Ihug has wasted no time in emphasising that its own digital TV plans won't be stymied by the 30% stake taken in the company by Sky Television.
A recent email to some of Ihug's StarNet customers, detailing an offer to exchange their existing StarNet PCI cards for new cards which support Ihug Digital TV also promises a range of TV services Ihug plans to introduce over the next year in addition to the 11 channels already announced for next month's launch. These include news and business channels, ethnic channels, a local community channel and an "adults only service".
Further out, the email from Ihug product manager Ted Grenfell promises a technology service, "at least one" sports channel, an educational channel and a "Classic TV" channel, bringing IDTV's total offerings to about 40 channels.
The $75 card swap offered in the message will not only benefit the customers. Ihug needs the existing StarNet cards in use by residential customers to maintain and expand its StarNet-based VIPNet services, and will be unwilling to hand over any more cash than necessary to the French supplier of the cards, whose service has not been satisfactory in the past.
The new, Korean-sourced SM200 card includes a smartcard receptacle, direct video outputs an ability ability to handle far larger data streams. It is available only for Windows 95 and 98. A set-top box based around the card but with a custom OS developed by Ihug is apparently still set for release later in the year.