SFR launches its Neufbox Evolution home gateway

French telecom operator SFR has launched its next generation home gateway to position itself as the most advance quad play player in the competitive marketplace. Called the Neufbox Evolution, it comes with an add-on with femtocells for local 3G relay and a new IPTV set-top box offering multiscreen TV delivery.

The Evolution is the sixth generation Neufbox and can be connected to ADSL and directly to fibre-to-the-home as well. It is a modular system, which can be adjusted to the customer’s need. The wireless routers offers speeds up to 300 Mbps. Using a femtocell add-on, customers can connect up to five mobile phones to their home relay base.

The new IPTV set-top box boosts a new 3D on-screen guide, which gives not only access to the regular IPTV bouquets on the network, but also to a large number of web services. The basic IPTV offers consists of over 150 channels with a number of additional bouquets, including those from Canal+ and CanalSat, as well as a la carte channels. Access to the MyTF1 catch-up service is included in basic, but M6 Replay needs an additional subscription. VOD is sold as a subscription service, a Pass Cinema costs €9.99, a Pass Kid €5.99 and M6 Series €5.99.

As part of the multiscreen strategy of the operator, the same interface is seen on tablets and mobile phones. The box has three USB 2.0 and 2 Ethernet ports. The new STB is also “3D ready”.

SFR positions the new STB as a true mediacentre for the home, allowing access to content sitting on PCs, on USB stocks, memory cards, external hard discs, network-attached storage (NAS), UPnP compatible devices and more.

Although the STB carries standard a 250 GB hard disc, only 40 GB is freely available to the user. The remainder of the capacity has to be rented for a fee of €15 per month for each block of 80 GB. According to SFR, this is due to the home copy levy the operator has to pay to the rights organisations.

The Neufbox Evolution is available at prices from €29.90 for basic triple play (without PVR) and €34.90 with PVR on ADSL, €39.90 on FttH. SFR is a joint venture between Vivendi (56%) and Vodafone (44%) and the second largest telecom operator in the country.

With the new Neufbox Evolution SFR positions itself at the top of the league of service providers. With regards to the TV offer, the operator has now made the STB into a fully fledged mediacentre, giving access to not only locally based content, but also to numerous web services using the newly designed UI. We understand the software was developed by Wyplay, who also was responsible for the hybrid STBs from Vodafone in Italy and Spain.

Home networking and mediacentre capabilities are part of the next generation of set tops. Liberty Global has stolen the limelight with its planned Horizon box, but with devices such as the Neufbox Evolution this French operator is showing it is ahead with the game. In addition, SFR is also deploying femtocell technology to improve its mobile phone offer as part of a true quad play bouquet.