update Ten months after it kicked off a trial of the service and almost a year after it was launched by rival iiNet, national broadband provider Internode has launched the FetchTV internet video service on its network, pricing the offering at very similar rates to those offered by iiNet.
The service, which FetchTV is also working to offer through rival providers like Optus and Adam Internet, will sell in two options — a ‘Full’ version which offers complete access to FetchTV’s streaming TV channels, and a ‘Lite’ version which offers access to the library of on-demand movies from major movie studios, as well as the normal free to air functions of the FetchTV set-top box.
Like iiNet, Internode will charge $29.95 per month on a 24-month contract for customers to rent the set-top box, which connects into customers’ TVs, and access the full service — or $14.95 per month for the Lite service. Alternately, the set-top box can be bought up-front for $399, with the Full service then being available contract-free for $19.95 per month or $5.95 per month for the Lite service.
The only difference between Internode’s FetchTV plans and iiNet’s appears to be Internode’s additional option to buy the set-top box up-front and use it on a $5.95 monthly basis with a Lite plan.
In a statement, Internode managing director Simon Hackett said FetchTV was “a new, leading edge, digital entertainment and information service.” “We expect demand to grow strongly as people recognise just how great it is,” he added. “Our six-month trial identified how customers use this sort of service, so we’ve optimised our national network and our service to ensure that FetchTV delivers a great customer experience.”
In a separate emailed statement responding to a question about the timing of the launch, Hackett said FetchTV’s service and technology had been undergoing huge levels of development and improvement over that twelve months.
“We have extremely high standards for the services we provide to our customers, and we are of the view that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression,” he said. “With the launch of the new graphical user interface for the service, today, as a part of our full commercial launch, we believe that the service is now at the standard and capabilities that our customers will demand of it. We think its really come of age this week – and that very much makes it the week that we are ready, willing, and able, to provide it to our customers.”
In order to gain access to the Full FetchTV service, Internode customers will need to be connected to one of Internode’s own DSLAM ports in their telephone exchange — not a resold service from a wholesale telco like Telstra or Optus. However, customers using any type of broadband infrastructure can get access to the Lite service and receive unmetered downloads. A similar restriction applies through iiNet.
In its statement, Internode noted that it had certified its FRITZ!Box 7390 and 7270 routers and its Billion 7800 series routers to deliver the best FetchTV experience, although it has also provided sample IPTV configuration guides for a range of other routers — including the Billion 740x and 730x models, as well as OpenNetworks hardware and the NetComm NB64 series.
“However, customers who elect to use non-certified routers may need to obtain a certified router if they are unable to make a non-certified router work with the service,” the company’s statement said.
Coinciding with the launch, FetchTV has also unveiled a new user interface, with the company’s chief executive Scott Lorson said featured a new “simple and clear navigation system” which floated above the channel which users were watching, as well as an on-screen carousel offering content suggestions directly from the service’s front page. It is not yet clear when the new user interface will become available to existing customers.
In general, the FetchTV service offers a range of content to customers — with its basic TV channels featuring brands such as Discovery and National Geographic, BBC World News, CNBC Australia, Al Jazeera English and more, as well as a large range of add-on packages. Movies from major studios are delivered on a pay per view basis, and the service when reviewed through iiNet also auto-downloaded a number of movies weekly for free consumption.
Image credit: FetchTV