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Foxtel confirms plans to ditch cable and move customers over to satellite

Foxtel has confirmed plans to turn off its cable services and move subscribers to satellite connections, claiming the shift will provide a more reliable service for customers wanting high definition programs.

The move, first reported by Trevor Long on tech website ETFM, will see customers receiving Foxtel’s service through the NBN-owned hybrid fibre optic (HFC) cable network migrated over to the satellite service.

Foxtel claims the shift to satellite will provide and better and more reliable service to subscription TV viewers.

“Satellite is less prone to outages than the HFC cable and delivers great quality HD signals. iQ2 and iQ3 boxes can be connected to the internet to deliver a range of services such as streaming video, Start Over and Look Back,” a Foxtel spokesperson told Mumbrella.

“Foxtel is moving to satellite only delivery for its broadcast subscribers while also significantly increasing its presence as a video streaming service. In the future, the NBN will fully manage the HFC network to deliver broadband services.

“Satellite is the best option for high quality video images watched on the large screens in homes and other venues. IP delivered streaming services are clearly the delivery mode of choice for individuals watching on a range of devices in and out of home. Foxtel is able to offer the best of both.”

Foxtel’s value was written down by up to a billion dollars by part owner News Corp last week, with lower than expected sales figures dragging the subscription TV operator’s revenues down.

The HFC network, originally owned by Telstra, as was a key part of the 1990s cable TV rollout that saw Foxtel and Optus compete with each other across Australia’s suburbs.

At their peak, the two HFC networks covered around 30% of Australia’s population, before they were bought by the NBN as part of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s promise to provide a ‘faster, cheaper’ national broadband network.

In the deal with the NBN, Telstra retained rights to part of the bandwidth available on their previously owned HFC network so it could provide Foxtel services.

Foxtel’s shift to satellite delivery will not have a major impact on Telstra’s bottom line, a spokesperson told Mumbrella: “Telstra received $35 million of revenue from Foxtel for their use of the HFC network in the first half of FY18. Reductions in this revenue will not be material to our overall financial results.”

An nbn spokesperson said the subscription TV providers decision would have no bearing on the services they provide:  “Foxtel has historically negotiated its access to HFC spectrum with Telstra and has continued to have access to the HFC spectrum even when nbn has taken ownership of that portion of the network.

“Any decision from Foxtel to no longer deliver its services over the HFC network is a commercial decision for Foxtel and is not related to nbn.”

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