INTERNET group Free has launched a new all-in-one Freebox with broadband web access, HD-TV and web TV, Wi-Fi, free calls to mobile phones and ligne fixe in France, a 3D-compatible Blue-Ray DVD player and 250Gb of storage.
Designed by Philippe Starck, the new generation box follows Free's pioneering offer of "bundled" internet, phone and TV services and leads the company's challenge against market leaders France Télécom/Orange, SFR and Bouygues.
Its rivals have already launched mobile phone services, but Free's network through parent company Iliad will not be available until 2012 and the free calls to France's 60 million portables is intended to help remedy this.
Set up for both ADSL and cable connections and offering maximum speeds of 28Mb/s via ADSL and 100Mb/s via cable, the Freebox 6 can also download files without a computer – which is a complication for internet watchdog Hadopi to control. However, ADSL internet speeds will still be limited by the speed of the local network.
The Freebox 6 comes in two parts, the server and the player, and has a TNT HD tuner plus access to 450 TV channels, with web TV on top and has a Freestore with games which can be played using its gyroscope-equipped controller. Golf, football and space games are supplied, as are loudspeakers.
It is priced at €29.99 a month for customers who have a France Télécom line, but those with "unbundled" phone lines (without a France Télécom line) must pay €5.99 extra. A typical France Télécom line will cost €16 a month.
Present Free customers will pay €119.99 for the box, with a €30 reduction for each year of being a Free client. It costs €96 for installation.