Bell Canada's Fibe TV wireless receiver expected to differentiate IPTV service

Bell Canada (NYSE: BCE) has become the first Canadian IPTV provider to offer a wireless set-top box in an effort to eliminate complex wiring and provide a flexible viewing experience as part of the home entertainment offering. The box is also expected to further differentiate BCE's IPTV capabilities from incumbent cable operators.

Bell Canada Fibe TV IPTV

(Source: Bell Canada)

The Fibe TV wireless receiver connects to a subscriber's home networking modem and becomes part of the whole home PVR experience, the carrier said in a news release. The subscriber can connect one or more wireless receivers to as many as five additional TVs around the home--and within Wi-Fi range outside the home. The units, which are featured on the carrier's website, are available to new and existing Fibe TV customers for $7 a month lease or $199 purchase.

"Going wireless means you can watch HDTV anywhere you want in your home without the hassle of running more cable across floors or through the walls of your house. All you need is a power outlet," said Shawn Omstead, vice president of products for Bell Residential Services in the press release.

The service is being positioned as a competitive edge for the telco's IPTV service which "is growing fast thanks to its superior broadband network and features," said Wade Oosterman, president of Bell Mobility and Residential Services.

Fibe TV, which is now available in Montreal, Quebec City and Toronto, will roll out to "multiple new locations" in 2013, the carrier said. It gained 47,463 new customers in the first quarter and how has "at least" 295,761 subscribers.

"Wireless TV is just another example of what Fibe can do that cable can't," added Omstead.

BCE joins its U.S. neighbor AT&T (NYSE: T) U-verse in offering a wireless receiver. In AT&T's case, the receiver was introduced to help speed up installation times. It became popular with subscribers, the carrier said, because it provided flexibility for where home entertainment systems could be situated within--and sometimes outside--a house. The AT&T box can connect up to two TVs.

As with AT&T, BCE expects to build customer demand for the service as it rolls out.

"It isn't something people were screaming for, but not that we have it in market, I think it will really strike a chord with people," Omstead told Market News. "When I tell people about this, they all say something like, 'Oh, I have cables lined across my baseboard that I'd love to get rid of."

For more:
- see the press release
- Market News has this story

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IPTV expansion key to Bell Canada's future
IPTV seen cutting into cable, satellite in Canada
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