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Foxtel denies rushing out iQ3 because of Netflix despite 2,000 shipped boxes need upgrades

iq3 widePay-TV operator Foxtel has admitted around 2,000 of its new iQ3 set top boxes which have already been shipped to customers need software updates to operate properly after a flurry of complaints from people who have paid up to $150 for them.

Foxtel’s online support forum has seen customers reporting a multitude of problems including the iQ3 randomly resetting itself, recordings disappearing, content being shown on the wrong channel, remotes not working, device lags, audio and signal failures as well as complete breakdowns, just a week after the next generation device was launched.

Mike Ivanchenko, director of product at Foxtel, admitted there had been “teething problems” due to problems with its processes, but denied the new boxes had been rushed out to counter the threat of streaming service Netflix to the pay-TV operator’s subscriber base.

“We had teething problems for the first few days where they weren’t properly being activated so that some features weren’t turned on or a good number were left on old software,” said Ivanchenko. “That resulted in those customers getting a less than satisfactory experience and they were rightfully vocal.”

However, he played down speculation the iQ3, which was due to launch last year but was subjected to multiple delays, had been rushed to market too early.

“To hit it straight on the head categorically we would reject the notion that we have rushed this out,” he said.

“It is true that in the first half of last week we did have teething issues activating the new platform nationally, which resulted in some of the initial customers not getting all the features activated or having old software delivered on the devices.

“The boxes actually get the software from the manufacturer and many of them were manufactured last year. Therefore it is a standard part of the process that when they are installed they need to be properly activated and upgraded to the latest software to operate correctly… If you had the software from 12 months ago – that’s why we didn’t release it.”

The new box is effectively a streaming video recorder, allowing consumers to record more shows at once, and has one terabyte of recording space – enough to store 345 hours of standard definition programming. However its main draw is the ability for viewers to scroll back up to 24 hours in the electronic program guide and catch up on shows they have missed, streamed across the internet.

The company’s director of product acknowledged this would mean upgrading all 200,000 devices in the warehouse, but said customers would not be responsible for upgrades on devices they have received.

“We have a process of upgrading them, but the short answer is yes they all need to upgraded,” he said. “This is standard for any of our box deployments.

“It happens with our existing boxes as well. It won’t be up to consumers to put the software on, its up to us and it was actually our processes that broke down.

“We’ve identified where the issue occurred and the other thing we’ve done, so if by chance problems do slip through we can actually catch it much much faster and deal with it immediately.”

Ivanchenko denied reports in the Sydney Morning Herald online that some customers had been sending their devices back and added: “If there are any customers who are still having issues that we are not sorting out then we are happy to send a tech out at no charge to sort it out.”

Nic Christensen 

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