back to article Tiscali loses IPTV punters

Tiscali's IPTV service has been losing customers, it has emerged. The Italy-based ISP reported quarterly results yesterday that said the TV over broadband service, formerly known as HomeChoice, has 36,000 subscribers. When Tiscali bought the outfit for about £100m in August last year it had 45,000 customers. Having previously …


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  1. Johan Helmer
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    Degregation of service

    I was looking into this service just last week, I was almost tempted to switch services providers and sign up until I read what it's own users had to say. According to various AV and IPTV forums, ever since it extended its service outside of London, its been grinding to a holt, particularly when trying to watch more popular shows. Shame really since this shows potential of being a very nice solution.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is BTVision IPTV anyway?

    I'm not sure I understand BT's implementation of IPTV anyway.

    Live TV reception seems to be standard Freeview. The IPTV component only seems to be if you want to watch a show again. Have I got this right?

    Is Tiscali's IPTV implementation more similar to what we see on the continent? ie. ADSL2 connection, with 2 Mbps reserved for television.

    I'm looking forward to the day we see a solution such as's one: ADSL2, phone calls, and IPTV for 30€ a month. Oh and not to mention that their box has VLC server so you don't need any expensive wireless streaming option between your PC and TV.

    I'm afraid the day is nowhere near though :/

  3. Chris Adams

    Need a shot for the STB

    I'm with Tiscali TV (was an previous Homechoice customer) and there are problems with the TV service that are making me consider quitting.

    1) The Set top box is nice to look at but has absolutely no ventilation whatsoever and, bearing in mind there's a GPU in there to decode the MPEG4, they literally cook themselves. I am on my third because I run a wireless home network so it is always on. It's frustrating when, after just a few weeks, TV pauses, pixellates and the box goes into something the engineers have called "search mode" for a while before coming back on.

    2) The picture quality of the IPTV. I have an HD TV/Monitor and this, unlike a normal CRT TV, does nothing to hide the very poor quality of the signal. I'm no expert but the compression really hurts it and I don't think that 2Mb Broadband is sufficient to carry high quality TV data.

    3) I have not yet found a way to convince my STB to feed me proper widescreen signal. It appears to be optimising for width but at standard ratio so I lose a chunk of the picture at the top and some to the left hand side. Boo!

    So, yeah, apart from the fact that I've heard scary, scary stories about Virgin Media and I prefer my wallet to remain un-plundered by MurdochTV, I'm considering jumping ship too.

  4. Ian


    I was one of the Pipex/F2s subscribers.... and I'm shortly to move to adsl24 (like so many people I know)

    Sod using TiPex, Pipex has a bad enough reputation than to suffer more with Tiscalli.

  5. Matt Horrocks


    Doubt their network can cope with what they're wanting from it, doesn't help that they end up with no new money to upgrade it by giving out (according to the linked tiscali page) free set top boxes, wireless modems, installation...

    Although from what I have experienced from what could roughly be desribed as "IPTV" (since it's TV stuff over IP) - Channel 4 on demand - it's all good (apart from that horrible application they wrap it in), not stuttery at all (however that's over work's decent connection, not tried it at home yet).

  6. AJ
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    Considered It Once!

    I considered getting Tiscali TV when I moved from a Virgin Media area to non cabled, but after looking at the website and finding the info on Tiscali TV was limited, website rubbish and hard to navigate, and that they had operations in India I decided to give it a miss...

    I know VM has an operation offshore, which really lets them down and I could see the impact this had on customer service recieved I certsinly didnt want to go to another provider that also thinks its right to offer services in the UK, charge customers in stirling, yet recruit staff offshore and not look after the UK economy!

    This was not my only reason but certainly was a factor, not only that but I dont think Tiscali is very good,

  7. Matt Nida

    Not a bad service, couple of key problems

    I've been with Tiscali TV since the Homechoice days, and in my experience it's a really good service (although I can't vouch for people who've signed up since the Tiscali takeover). Reliable broadband + good value TV package + impressive on-demand content = happiness.

    It does have, however, an image problem in that nobody I've spoken to really understands what the service is and requires an explanation, which is fairly crucial. If I was in charge of marketing, I'd put "Cable TV down your phone line! No dish! No holes in the road!" at the top of every poster; as it stands, it's rather oblique as far as the not-we are concerned which means the public are slow to pick up on the genuine advantages that this service has over both cable and satellite.

    Also, there's a number of key features that have been "coming soon" or unofficially promised for a while now but which seem to be suffering from indefinite hold-ups e.g. HD service, PVR, etc. The pricing and content is already pretty compelling, but these other functions are pretty crucial in selling this service to the public IMO.

  8. Will Leamon

    Chris Adams

    I know it's not much consolation but my Moxie box (Charter's IPTV DVR combo) does the exact same thing with the widescreen resolutions. We have a HD projector here in the house and all of the supposedly widescreen shows come in just a little cropped. Which is super annoying as I'm the type who watches the credits like a hawk.

    I'm beginning to wonder if producers are shooting in 4x3 and then getting jiggy with the widescreen version which (if true - probably not) is completely ass backwards from the way it should be shot. Perfect 16x9 with a crappy 4x3 pan and scan to follow is the only way to go.

  9. Biomech

    Shit customer service that's why

    Probably because Tiscali are fucking shit. An Italian company based in the UK with Indian call centres... pssh. I'm in the process of the 10-15 day "moving house" process - its been over month and all they have done is reactivated a pipex account on a different disconnected line!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who *is* doing genuine IPtv?

    One could ask El Reg's tame IPtv man, if he can be found... only 2 blogworthy happenings in the IPtv world this year, Alex?

    Meanwhile, wasn't Homechoice originally delivered over *ATM* not IP? The ADSL spec is designed to allow ATM traffic over a DSL line. IP sits on top (hence PPPoA). ATM, being a circuit-oriented technology, allows guaranteed bandwidth, which by coincidence is what you need for decent quality "on demand" TV. If the bandwidth can't be guaranteed the ATM circuit won't connect, whereas an IP session will connect and fail miserably later (e.g. once you've paid :().

    IP, being packet-oriented, allows operators to sell more bandwidth (sometimes lots more bandwidth) than they can ever actually deliver, and operators have used this magick to "keep costs down". In the broadband market, the industry calls this overselling "contention", and much of the time, historically, this has worked well enough. For the operator. But for the punter, when demand approaches capacity (as it will when subscriber numbers increase, or when new applications take off, applications which won't work when not fed enough data, applications whose traffic can't be "traffic managed" because there simply isn't enough bandwidth), Bad Things *will* happen.

    Last time I looked at BTwholesale's service description for their IPQoS, which is of course a "value added" (ie costs extra) option, it only guaranteed up to 2Mbit and if you had a 2Mb QoS session it seriously limits the amount of non-QoS traffic you can have (512kbit?). Is 2Mbit enough for BT Vision "on demand" content? BT don't say, not anywhere I could find, but says you need 4Mbit. Cheers BT.

    The broadband DSL networks currently being rolled out in the UK by BTwholesale and LLU operators all conveniently focus on IP not ATM, because (for them) it is cheaper. For the punter? They'll have 12/18 month contracts, and all the hiptrendy IPtv ISPs are going down the same route anyway, so who gives a **** about the punter...

    The sad thing here is that without BT's early work into DSL and stuff there wouldn't be a residential broadband market today. Which of today's broadband market names is really doing that kind of fundamental next-generation research? Thank you Mrs Thatcher and the armies of beancounters.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Tiscali only care about profits

    Im not suprised people are leaving their services. I am currently working for Tiscali ad am going to be made redundant. Tiscali have over 2 million customers and 1700 staff. They are planning to reduce the amount of staff down to 700 from 1700 to save costs. A lot of work will e outsourced aswell. So 2 things, less people looking after customers, and poor customer service will result as calls will be handled by overseas agents who cant do more than follow their scripts.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Tiscali TV Rocks

    I work for Tiscali too (on tech side) and I know that the TV over broadband/iptv service we offer is second to none. I'm also a customer and the service has VERY impressive on demand content, LOTs of great channels and it all runs over one copper pair! Its the cheapest tv package out there and has BT's Vison's pants down (I know because I've mucked about with it and the front end gui is rubbish and what are they offering - freeview and VOD - WOW!)! Sky/Virgin are the only real competion but Tiscali is cheapest - most stable service out there.

    Anonymous Coward - you just want to moan aimlessly without realy understanding what your saying. Tiscali offer a cheap - great service and their IPTV is the most mature and is the best TV package out there - simple as..see Matt Nida comments. Having read through all of this forum I have come to the conclusion that people LOVE to moan - without "knowing" what the TV service is about. In summary, stable cheap but great package..thats from an employee and from a customers perspective too!!

    Thumbs up!!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tiscali TV isnt good, check the article title

    So why is it that they are losing customers? doesnt that indicate that it isnt good.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    We have not lost customers, in fact we've gained a lot. Lots of people are now using the service nationwide..

    Don't believe everything that you read..

  15. Alistair
    Thumb Down

    Worst Provider in the Market

    By far Tiscali TV are the worst provider out in the market..... I may be the "odd" unhappy customer...but it still doesn't excuse the mistakes and sloppy service rendered to me. Now fighting with about the penalty clause of 700£ if I close my account! NO SERVICE FOR A WEEK.....and I have to pay them a penalty charge! What is the world coming too?

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