UPC Cablecom to offer in-the-clear basic digital service

Cable operator UPC Cablecom is to abolish encryption of its 55 most popular TV channels, including HD channels, at the beginning of next year.

The move means that the channels will be available to Swiss households without the need for additional reception equipment such as a set-top box of DigiCard CI Plus CAM. The operator will moreover abolish the cost of its basic digital offering, currently CHF4 (€3.30) a month.

UPC Cablecom said it would provide all cable subscribers with a 2Mbps internet connection at no extra cost. In agreement with the Swiss price regulator, the price of the basic cable connection will be increased progressively over two years, beginning with a CHF0.90 increase in 2013 followed by a CHF0.60 increase in 2014.

The operator’s move means that it will be able to convert all 1.8 million connected households to digital in one step. About 80 per cent of Switzerland’s 3.2 million households now watch digital TV.

At present, the basic digital offer from UPC Cablecom costs CHF31.40 per month – CHF27.40 for the cable connection plus a subscription fee of CHF4 for the basic digital package including 55 channels. From 1 January 2013, the cable connection will cost CHF28.40, rising to CHF29.05 on January 1 2014 while the number of digital channels – including HD – in the package will remain the same.

Owners of TV sets without integrated DVB-C receivers will be able to access the channels using a free converter.
With this move UPC Cablecom is following the example of Danish cableco YouSee, which unencrypted its basic offering some time ago. About 10% of YouSee’s base takes its more extensive set-top box service, and the operator is launching an over-the-top TV everywhere service, YouBio, as an additional premium offering.