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Set-top box streams live UK TV

Live television from the United Kingdom is now in Bermuda — straight from your internet connection.

This new technology evolved because of the looming spectre of the loss of UK television in the British retirement hubs of Europe. It resulted in a small box, which plugged into a monitor and internet connection, provides about 70 channels of United Kingdom television. It's called Ex-Pat TV.

Now, the service has come to Bermuda. David Skinner, who is with Ex-Pat TV, explained: “In Spain they have a saying. It is ‘The crisis!' It refers to unemployment and the economy, that sort of thing. But right now it is much more important where they were going to get their British television from. With the new satellite, Spain was out of the footprint, so they lost their UK television.”

Mr Skinner, who visits Spain regularly, explained: “It was a countdown — the papers in the UK were counting down the days before the retirees in Spain and the South of France were going to lose their ‘Coronation Street'.

“A couple of businesses started up, using internet Protocol Television, or IPTV, and a lof of them were catch-up devices, like TIVO. This is the only one that steams live television directly from the United Kingdom using the Ex Pat TV box — it took the creators five years of research and development to perfect it. It has by far the best quality and it is live — it's actually a replication of the Freeview box you get in the United Kingdom.

“When I thought about it, I thought it would be a good thing for Bermuda.”

After obtaining a box from the UK company, Mr Skinner tried it for himself for about three months. Having made the decision that it was something that people would like to have here, he applied to the Regulatory Authority, which oversees this sector, for a licence and then incorporated his company, Ex-Pat TV Bermuda.

“I thought it was going to be difficult to get the OK,” he said. “But they were first class — they pushed me in the right direction and were very helpful. Once I got the OK from them, I started to bring in the boxes.

“They are smaller than the cable or satellite dish boxes that many people have now.”

The box itself is contemporary looking with sleek, aerodynamic lines.

“It works off your internet connection,” he said. “You plug it into your router. It can be used wirelessly as well. You plug the other end into your HDMI, or High Definition Media Interface cable.

“Then, you are quite literally watching live television from the United Kingdom. You can watch Downton Abbey as it's airing in the UK,” he said.

In addition to the BBC rainbow of channels, and ITV, there are the most popular sports channels in the UK as well as Irish and Scottish television. There are movie channels, game show channels, as well as a classic television show channel with perennial favourites like Are You Being Served? and BlackAdder airing. “It's great to go back and watch the old Carry On movies,” he said.

“There's a really cool thing, a channel called Catch up, which records and holds some of the most popular channels for at least three weeks, so it is possible to go back and watch them after they have aired.

“It's very, very easy,” he said. “A menu pops up — it's just like the television menu you're used to. And several of the channels are in high definition as well.

“There are also radio stations — BBC 1 to 6 and BBC's Talking Sport and some music channels.

“The box is also a media centre; you can put in your USB or SD card and watch movies or anything else you have recorded.”

The box itself is $265, and the basic package is $50, while a full package is $60. The hosting fee includes licensing fees.

“We hope to have more channels added soon,” he said. “Activitation is within 24 hours.”

Look for Ex-Pat TV Bermuda's website at ex-pattvBermuda.com. “You will also find our pricing there,” he said. We're on Facebook — we have hundreds of likes, so that is going really well. And we're donating one to the BUEI silent auction this month.”

Ex-Pat Television comes with a seal of approval — it went with a British Government trade delegation led by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to the Middle East, which was designed to promote English products, and some British Embassys also have it.

Disclaimer: David Skinner is an employee of The Royal Gazette

Home from home for Brits: David Skinner, from Ex-Pat TV Bermuda holding one of his new IPTV top-boxes. (Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published March 07, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated March 06, 2014 at 9:18 pm)

Set-top box streams live UK TV

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