S4C and Inuk Networks, a supplier of triple-play services to consumers, service providers and network operators, today announced an agreement to include S4C digidol within Inuk Networks’ IPTV Freewire TV service.
The addition of S4C digidol to the Freewire TV channel line-up will bring S4C to more viewers across the country. The channel addition is also the latest step towards Inuk Networks’ planned nationwide residential rollout later this year.
Under the new carriage arrangement, S4C digidol will initially be available to students living in university residences around the UK. Inuk Networks employs multicast over closed IP networks to deliver its Freewire TV channels, allowing students access to digital television directly from their own campus accommodation using PC equipment connected via the high speed JANET network.
The move will also extend the reach of S4C’s programming to viewers across the UK. S4C digidol is currently available to viewers outside Wales on digital satellite and on broadband. As part of its digital strategy, S4C also began live streaming of the channel over broadband this month.
Inuk Networks’ channel expansion programme forms part of the company’s vision to bring a digital alternative to those who have historically been disenfranchised from multi-channel television. This vision is shared by leading technology pioneers including Welsh-born Sir Terry Matthews, a key investor in the IPTV provider.
“Many Welsh speakers rely on S4C for content that is directly relevant to them and which addresses their interests in a way other services cannot,” said Sir Terry Matthews.
He continued, “The agreement with S4C is something of a milestone in that not only will it make the channel more accessible to Welsh speakers and those interested in Welsh language content across the UK, but it will also mean that Welsh culture will be made accessible to a wider audience than it has in the past. Increased access to Welsh language programming for those who have a vested interest in the Welsh community can only be a positive development.”
Iona Jones, Chief Executive of S4C, said, "This venture is the latest step in S4C's strategy to build on its presence on every major digital platform. Our aim is not limited to sustaining the Welsh language and culture exclusively in Wales. It should be available everywhere to those with an interest in high quality original content.”
She added, “We think S4C's commitment to sport and music coverage - including the Welsh rock scene – plus programmes ranging from cult drama to animated satire will be of particular appeal to the student community.”
University of Wales Institute Cardiff (UWIC) is the first of a number of Welsh universities that have been trialling the Freewire TV service. UWIC is planning to provide Freewire TV to its students and staff in the new academic year (2007/08). The Freewire TV service will be extended to other universities and colleges throughout the UK later this year.
Inuk Network’s Freewire platform is capable of managing not only the delivery of hundreds of channels of video content but also a carrier class VoIP solution - the ability to make telephone calls over the internet - and broadband internet access. Freewire TV is helping to drive the penetration of digital TV in the run-up to digital switchover, to be completed in Wales by 2009/10 and in the whole of the UK by 2012.