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Hungary dials up TV content

T-Online execs hope to sign up 50,000 subs in first few months

BUDAPEST — State-controlled telco Magyar Telekom has announced it will offer Internet-based commercial TV services.

Hungarian Internet company TVnet already offers IPTV in Budapest to broadband subscribers, but TVnet’s reach is limited to the capital.

Magyar Telekom’s foray into Internet TV broadcasting, spearheaded by its Web division T-Online, has the potential of reaching a near national level if there is customer interest.

T-Online execs hope to sign up 50,000 subscribers in the first months of operation.

How serious a threat IPTV will prove to be for terrestrial and cable TV remains to be seen. Cutting-edge initiatives in mobile TV broadcasting have met with a lukewarm response from local customers.

Despite the easy availability of 3-G mobile phones in the saturated Hungarian market, a study sponsored by Magyar Telekom and terrestrial broadcaster TV2 concluded that “most people in Hungary still consider mobile TV a luxury commodity” and are waiting for mobile TV and broadcasting technology to fall in price before they invest.

Still, Magyar Telekom’s mobile phone arm, T-Mobile, says 50,000 of its subscribers have phones capable of playing downloaded TV programming, and this number will rise to 300,000 by the end of 2007.

Internet TV providers are leaping into the market because of the low capital cost of investment. TVnet set up its IPTV service in Budapest at the beginning of the year for less than $500,000.

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