Update: If you are not sure about going to the other side, check out Rogers new offering, the Nextbox 3.0. You can find out more about this product by reading my latest blog here.
If you live in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal or Quebec City and subscribe to other Bell Services you are probably getting inundated with publicity for Fibe TV. For those of you not familiar with it, Fibe TV is an IP (Internet Protocol) based television service that is delivered through your telephone line. Bell started testing the service back in 2006 in limited areas, but it was not until 2010 that it started offering the service to its customers in Montreal and Toronto and more recently to Ottawa and Quebec City. As is the case with most television distribution systems these days, it features a whole home PVR whereby all receivers in a household are connected together in a local network. The network usually consists of a PVR and a series of receivers, the PVR can record programs which can then be accessed by any of the receivers on the network. Other features of the service include:
- Fibe TV On Demand, a video on demand service with thousands of movies and TV shows
- a 14 day electronic program guide which is searchable by title, genre, cast member or keyword
- Picture in picture browsing and channel surfing
- On screen access to apps such as Facebook, Twitter and the Weather Network
- 3D ready
Fibe TV is only available in limited areas of the cities mentioned above; you can find out if it is available in your area from the Bell web site. It should be mentioned that you will have to subscribe to Bell Internet to be eligible to get Fibe TV.
The channels provided are much the same as offered by their satellite service and similiar to cable providers such as Rogers or Videotron. You can view the channel lineups for the different packages at the following site.
As a further incentive to its customers to sign on to this next generation TV service, Bell announced in January that unlimited internet is available as an add-on for $10 per month for its customers who bundle Bell TV, Bell Internet and either Bell Home Phone or Bell Mobility.
I am presently a Rogers subscriber and have not been that happy with its so called “Next Box” technology therefore I am seriously considering switching to the Bell TV service. In addition I presently use Bell as my internet service provider and recently upgraded to Fibe Internet which came with the modem for Fibe TV . Before I do take the plunge I wanted to examine the price deals that are being offered by Bell. I recently received a flyer in the mail that I will examine in more detail in this blog just in case others out there are in a similiar situation.
This includes installation of a modem, a Whole Home PVR and up to 2 HD receivers. They are assuming that coaxial cables are close to your televisions and therefore the installers will not go into your attic to string cables or fish them through walls to reach your television. According to the Bell website, the installation will take 4-6 hours to complete. The price of the install will vary depending on the length of the contract that you sign. If you do not sign a contract, the price is $249.95, while if you sign a 1 or 2 year contract the price is $149.95 or $49.95 respectively. Rogers charges $50 for the Whole Home installation if you are an existing Digital TV subscriber; as far as I know they do not require you to sign a contract.
The heart of the service is the Fibe Internet Connection Hub which is a Sagecom F@st 2864 modem/router. This device allows you to access the Bell Fibe Internet and TV services. This is the gateway device that I have, you can read a review of it in a previous post. The PVR and receivers are manufactured by Motorola, these are models VIP1232 and VP1200. The PVR itself has an internal hard disk that is capable of playing back and managing recordings from any other receiver in your home including pausing and rewinding live TV. It can access and record as many as four programs at the same time, for example you can choose to watch four different live programs on four different TVs at the same time, up to 2 of these can be HD programs. Depending on the model that you get, the PVR can store from 100 to 150 hours of your favourite movies and TV shows. As well, the PVR can support up to 5 additional receivers. There is no rental fee for the HD PVR to new Bell TV subscribers with continued subscription to three Bell services although the device remains the property of Bell. If you are not a subscriber to three services you can purchase or rent the PVR, rental is $15 per month while an outright purchase is $499. The rental fee for each HD receiver is $7 per month while the purchase price is $199. If you do rent the device and keep it for at least 60 months you can keep it for no charge for as long as you are a Bell TV customer.
As a comparison Rogers “Next Box” Whole Home technology utilizes a PVR manufactured by Cisco and offers similiar capabilities. The HD PVR can be purchased for $499 or rented for $25.02 per month or $15.15 per month with an option to purchase it for $1 after 36 months. The simple HD receiver is $319 and can be rented for $13.08 per month or for $7.58 per month with the same purchase option after 36 months.
Apps on you TV
Another unique feature of the Fibe TV service is that you can get access to a number of apps directly on your television. Apps available now include: Galaxie, The Weather Network, Facebook, Twitter, Fibe TV Support, TumbleBooks TV and TSN Extra. You should note that any usage of these apps goes toward your monthly internet usage.
Hopefully this article will give you a bit more information about Fibe TV and whether it would be good for you. I am still on the fence and have not yet decided to move from Rogers cable.
Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about this next generation TV service and whether you plan on switching.