Orange Rethinks Much-Delayed UK IPTV, Too Much Like BT Vision

imageIt’s been delayed and delayed and delayed; now Orange’s still-invisible UK IPTV service may not launch as planned at all. Several reasons, UK CEO Tom Alexander told Reuters: Orange “was not happy with the service” and “had decided it was too similar to BT (NYSE: BT) Vision”. No roll-out is imminent, Alexander said. Orange will now rethink the planned offering and consider different business models, which could include mobile TV.

Orange has made a big success of its three-screen strategy at home in France with a slick offering that delivers TV over mobile, PC and living-room set top boxes. It first announced the UK roll-out in June 2006, then promised it would launch in 2007. Last year, Orange told me it would launch in 2008, but it’s still absent – having been tested by 300 users in Leeds.

It seems Alexander’s replacement of Bernard Ghillebaert as CEO has put the brakes on the wandering project. While Orange UK seems unable to bring the service to market, the telco has already launched in Poland, Spain and Jordan. In that time, BT Vision – though itself not a roaring success – has stolen a march in what is still a small ADSL IPTV segment.

Meanwhile, Orange is also shifting the emphasis from signing new broadband customers to focus on improving quality for existing users; it will look to build out its own network rather than use BT’s lines on a wholesale basis.