Orange’s long-awaited digital TV proposition has been delayed until 2008, despite trials in London and Leeds coming to an end.
The operator had identified ‘internet protocol TV’ (IPTV) as a central pillar of its strategy for 2007 and pencilled in a Q3 launch.
The company said 300 Orange broadband customers have been testing the service in London and Leeds, ‘providing essential feedback’ before it is ready for launch.
A spokeswoman said: ‘Once we’ve reviewed and assessed this feedback, we’ll continue to roll out to other major towns and cities in the New Year.’
Critics have said the UK TV market is completely different from Orange’s home French market, where it has been a huge success. One analyst said: ‘We have Sky here and even a relatively strong cable provider in the form of Virgin. It’s much more competitive in the UK.’
Orange’s most likely rival, BT Vision, has signed up just 100,000 customers compared with eight million on Sky and three million with Virgin Media.
The analyst added: ‘Orange will have the same challenge as BT and Tiscali (which bought HomeChoice this year and has around 30,000 customers). The UK is a market dominated by Sky and Freeview. Orange don’t have the content, so they will have to give it away and even that will be difficult because of Freeview.’
Orange has also struggled with another big target for the year: establishing its ‘Unique’ phone service as a mass-market concept. The service switches calls from a home Wi-Fi network to a mobile network when it leaves the Wi-Fi range. Orange sources have blamed it on the lack of attractive suitable handsets.
Separately, Orange has moved its broadband proposition into independent retail. Carphone Warehouse and DSG have been selling Orange broadband since the autumn.
It is believed a deal is close to being finalised with Phones 4u set to start selling Orange broadband. A spokeswoman confirmed that an agreement with Hugh Symons was signed in recent weeks.
Orange goes all out on prepay
Prepay deals under £30 are dominated by Orange in independent retail, prompting fears that the operator is way below its subscription target for the financial year. Deals at Carphone, Argos, Phones 4u, Sainsbury’s and other retailers show a strong weighting towards Orange in the low and ‘ultra low’ price bracket – an area most operators have flagged as particularly dangerous given the prevalence of box breaking.
Carphone and Phones 4u are also pushing contract deals on Orange with heavy cashback promotions as well as free Nintendo Wii consoles.
Orange has denied that the company is below its 2007 target. ‘We are fully aware of box breaking, but we need to be competitive within this price bracket. And where we see box breaking, we will change our pricing accordingly.’