TelstraClear has finally launched its much-delayed T-Box this morning, following a similar move by its Australian parent.
The T-box is a digital TV receiver and recorder, designed to work with Telstra's cable network in Kapiti, Wellington and Christchurch.
Intrigingly, the company added that "It will be available to customers outside these areas as new networks are built as part of the government’s Ultra-fast Broadband initiative."
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The T-box supports high definition pictures and recording (TelstraClear's existing set-top box is standard definition).
Its 300GB hard drive can record 50 hours of programmes at high definition (HD) quality, or 300 ours at standard digital definition (SD). There are three tuners, meaning you can record two channels while watching a third.
On-demand on hold
The T-Box supports on-demand IPTV content. Currently, TelstraClear's website only lists a channel selection that's closely tied to Sky TV's.
Asked what broadcast content was unique from Sky TV, a spokesman said "Discovery Travel & Living; Canterbury TV; Deustche Wella; Bloomberg; Visitor TV (Canterbury) ; The Cheese radio. We also have a greater choice of pay per-view-options."
TelstraClear said on-demand content will be launched at a later date.
Head of consumer markets, Steve Jackson said the arrival of T-Box has huge importance for fibre-to-the-home developments in this country.
“With T-Box, TelstraClear is proposing to deliver a level of video-on-demand functionality well beyond what is available on cable networks in most other countries, including Australia,” Mr Jackson says.
Which will be great, once the on-demand video is enabled.
TelstraClear originally announced the T-Box in June 2009.
“We know our customers have been waiting for this product as the testing and refining of the T-Box took longer than expected," Mr Jackson said.
“However, now the launch is under way, we will be contacting each of these customers, and others, over the coming weeks to confirm their orders and we expect to be installing T-box in homes from September 27."
T-Box costs $499 with charges of between $87 and $112 a month as a part of a variety of "triple play" bundles that also include phone and TV services. Installation costs $199 for new customers; $199 for new customers.
Slow start in Australia
Telstra recently released annual result included T-Box figures for Australia.
With just 15,000 units sold in its first month (after months of pre-launch registrations and publicity), the PVR seemed to be off to a so-so start - despite the advantage of a raft of IPTV channels that differentiate it from Sky TV clone Foxtel.
Some on-demand IPTV content would help it fly here.
Telecom recently slashed the price of the struggling, TVNZ-backed TiVo by two-thirds to $360.
TiVo already features an on-demand broadband content service, called Caspa.
Sky TV is planning to reintroduce on-demand IPTV content later this year.
A spokesman for TelstraClear said the company had received 4000 registrations of interest in the T-Box, but had not actual sales figures at this point.
The spokesman said TelstraClear had 75,000 customers across its Wellington, Kapiti and Christchurch cable networks.
Of those, 26,000 are in Christchurch.