Long-awaited internet-connected TV service YouView will launch at the end of the month.
The "next generation of Freeview", a joint venture between the major terrestrial channels, plus TalkTalk, BT and Arqiva, was initially earmarked to roll out in 2010, but has been blighted by technical faults in its infancy.
Speaking at a press launch this morning in London, Lord Sugar, chairman of YouView, described the launch of the service as "an important moment in British television." He added: "I hope this [launch] dispels a lot of the doubts about the product.
"This is British technology… one of the few things that hasn’t come from California. It's been developed here", he said, adding bullishly "You won't want another box - this is the only one you will need".
YouView, initially developed under the codename Project Canvas, will offer access to the range of channels currently available to Freeview users, as well as a seven-day subscription-free catch-up service bringing together many of the major online on-demand services, including BBC iPlayer and 4oD. The entirely remote control driven product will offer a "better TV experience" as users are able to access a seven-day backwards EPG, as well as wealth of archive content directly through their TV.
"Ease of use will make it a successful mainstream product", said Richard Halton, CEO, YouView. He added, "[YouView] combines all the benefits of internet technology with all the benefits of broadcast technology".
The service will have unlimited data caps and in the future "could be populated with content from other people". Lord Sugar explained: "the current proposition is just the carcass… people will jockey for proposition in EPG - we will control that".
The first boxes, priced at £299, will go on sale at the end of July. But the hardware cost is expected to drop after launch, with Lord Sugar promising "as time goes on prices will come down... it could be as cheap as £99". It is understood that ISP providers, including BT, will also offer subsidised YouView box deals in the future.