BT rejects Pace boxes for YouView launch, goes with Humax

BT's YouView service will be launched with Humax boxes.

BT (NYSE: BT)  has hit yet another speed bump in its long-delayed YouView launch. The Pace Plc (LSE: PIC) set-top boxes it expected to deploy are not ready for prime time and the telco has to fill in with units from Humax.

Pace is still expected to provide boxes at a later time, but The Financial Times (as reported in IP&TV News) said the Pace boxes were just not ready and the telco had to move on for the time being.

And things get worse for BT and the consumers who might end up with the replacement boxes: The word is that the Humax units are "larger and slower" than what Pace was expected to deliver. On the other hand, they're available--which the Pace units are not--and BT has to progress because its competition is already out there.

Seven set-top box vendors originally signed up to build YouView boxes but four, including Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Technicolor, dropped off, leaving only Pace, Humax and Huawei. Another ISP, TalkTalk, is rolling out Huawei's versions of the boxes, and retailer John Lewis is selling Humax units for $470.

The set-top box SNAFU is just another brick in a wall of delays for BT's YouView service that finally launched in July after repeated delays. Even as BT waits for its Pace set-tops, TalkTalk is moving ahead with a free YouView box and access to its VoD story and LOVEFiLM Instant service in competition.

This, according to the IP&TV News story, is good news for TalkTalk--to an extent.

"All of this puts TalkTalk back into the U.K. pay-TV league, but, to borrow more football parlance, it is still nowhere near challenging for the Champions League," Giles Cottle, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, told IP&TV News. "BT and Virgin (Nasdaq: VMED) also have Sky wholesale deals, and no third party, including TalkTalk, has access to the much coveted Sky Atlantic, fast becoming the jewel in Sky's Pay-TV crown."

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