Platform Communications Views


Chris Griffin

I spent some time at home sick earlier this year and took the opportunity to enjoy my Swisscom Bluewin TV service from the comfort of the sofa. I live in Geneva and spend most of my time there or in London on business,  and I don’t get that much time for television usually. That is a shame because   this Swisscom IPTV offer deserves more of my attention.

I really admire what Swisscom have achieved, delivering a multi-channel TV service, including fantastic quality HDTV, to our Geneva home over DSL. Even our humble house in the mountains has fibre-to-the-home. The HDTV is sent around our home wirelessly, from the primary set-top box (which is also a PVR) to our secondary set-top box in the bedroom. That is a great achievement in itself – there is rarely any pixelation or interference.

There is braveness about what Swisscom has done. They built a network that was capable of delivering television, including HDTV, then made it happen. I think Bluewin is indicative of Swiss life actually – understated, solid and competent.

When I was told my installation kit was at the local post office, I was skeptical about getting the service up and running. In the UK I experienced both satellite and cable with all the headaches that brings on installation. I presented my ID, received my two boxes, went home, read the instructions, and was watching television within an hour. Swisscom provide great technical support in French, German, Italian and English, and their support staff are supportive and well trained. A professional installation is available if you want – but you have to pay for it. I would say that any reasonably competent person can self-install, which includes telephone and super-fast broadband (12Mb to the home at times).

The irony is that the both the Swiss as a nation, and my family as guests of this country, are both low television consumers. Besides work, there are a lot of outdoor pursuits you can enjoy in Switzerland including sailing on the lakes and skiing in the mountains, so I guess that might explain the lower than average TV consumption for Europe. The television we do watch is live, despite having the PVR and a selection of on-demand content to choose from.

There is a great selection of international content on Bluewin. In fact, because Switzerland has relaxed copyright laws, you can get the best channels from most of Europe here and they are all on the Bluewin service. We receive the best of Freeview, including the BBC and ITV channels; we don’t have to miss Jonathan Ross on Friday nights. We even receive a couple of Russian channels (my wife is Russian). The many UN diplomats and foreign business people in Switzerland can feel at home with this service, whichever European country they come from (40 per cent of Geneva and Zurich residents are non-Swiss).

It required a lot of investment for Swisscom to deliver its IPTV service and I don’t know whether the economics work for them, but the service is great. The company deserves credit for what it has achieved here.