Bell Canada has announced the official commercial launch of its IPTV service under the ‘Bell Fibe TV’ brand in Toronto and Montreal, based on the Microsoft Mediaroom multimedia software platform. Fibe TV is initially available to 500,000 homes in selected areas of the two cities, with Bell targeting a footprint of one million households by mid-2011. Bell’s IPTV footprint lags behind its ‘Fibe’ fibre-to-the-node (FTTN)/VDSL2 internet coverage, which passes approximately three million households, mostly in the Toronto and Montreal areas (with the telco aiming to expand Fibe internet access to 3.6 million homes by end-2010). Kevin Crull, president of Bell Residential Services, said on Monday that Fibe TV will be available to almost five million households by the end of 2015. The company is heralding IPTV as a ‘complement’ to the Bell TV satellite service, which has around two million customers, referring to the fact that the direct-to-home (DTH) service has its strongest presence in suburbia, whilst Bell is aiming Fibe TV at stealing market share from cable-based rivals Rogers and Videotron in large urban centres in Ontario and Quebec respectively.
Features of Fibe TV include: 100 HD channels, over 70 international channels, more than 1,000 on-demand movies/series (allowing unlimited viewing for 24 hours) and ‘Whole Home PVR’ recording across all set-top boxes in the home. Remote PVR features are promised ‘soon’, including smartphone access.