Telecom News

New UPC TV Box Console Reviewed

October 3, 2018 - Ralf Beyeler

Swiss cable operator UPC has introduced a new TV console which replaces its Horizon Box. In this review, Ralf Beyeler, telecom expert at independent online comparison service moneyland.ch, analyzes the new console and explains how it compares with its competition.

Switzerland’s largest cable network operator UPC – formerly Cablecom – has presented its new television console. The new console is branded as the UPC TV Box. Starting on October 4, 2018, the new console will begin to replace the Horizon Box currently used by UPC customers.

Thousands of hours in the cloud

The new TV Box offers many functions which were not included in the Horizon Box. The new console streams TV programs directly from the cloud. Unlike the Horizon Box, the new console does not record any programs on local storage. It runs substantially faster than its predecessor, and is easier to use. UPC customers can now record up to 2000 hours of TV shows in HD quality, compared to the former 90 hours. UPC also provides a 7-day time shift function.

The new TV console is included in the Happy Home 50, Happy Home 200 and Happy Home 500 offers. The monthly fee for these TV plans is 99 Swiss francs, 119 francs and 139 francs respectively – including television, broadband Internet access and a flat-fee landline connection which includes unlimited calls to all Swiss networks. The landline connection can be excluded, which knocks 10 francs off the monthly fee. UPC charges a one-time fee of 99 francs for the initial activation of the plan.

Multiple consoles per household

Subscribers to the Happy Home 200 and Happy Home 500 offers now receive up to 5 consoles per household. Happy Home 50 subscribers can receive up to 2 consoles. The cost of 1 console is included in the standard fee. UPC charges an extra monthly fee of 5 francs per additional console. Existing customers who order one or more of the new consoles pay a one-time fee of 99 francs for the total order. New customers who order consoles when they subscribe to a UPC plan do not pay the initial one-time fee.

TV consoles for existing customers

Existing customers have the option of migrating to the TV console. UPC charges a one-time, 99-franc fee for the activation of the new consoles. UPC has stated that the activation fee will be waived in many cases. However, UPC has not provided detailed information about the specific requirements which customers must meet in order to benefit from the waiver. Consumer tip: Consider negotiating with UPC for a waiver of the activation fee.

Verdict by telecom expert Ralf Beyeler

The new TV Box from UPC is a major upgrade from the former Horizon Box. The outdated Horizon Box did not compare favorably with the consoles offered by Swisscom, Sunrise and many other service providers.

UPC is the last Swiss television service provider to move to cloud-based services. The move allows UPC customers to access their recorded broadcasts from anywhere. Recorded broadcasts will not be lost if the console is damaged because they are recorded to cloud storage rather than local storage.

The new console can hold its own against consoles offered by UPC’s competitors. However, the new console simply brings UPC up to a level of service similar to that offered by the competition. It does not represent a breakthrough in the Swiss television space.

The costs of UPC’s bundled TV, broadband and landline packages will remain unchanged. UPC’s pricing is similar to that of Sunrise, and slightly cheaper than Swisscom’s. Depending on the desired services, differences in pricing between service providers can be more pronounced.

There are more affordable ways to access TV, broadband and landline services than using offers from UPC, Swisscom and Sunrise. For example, you could save up to 40 francs per month compared to UPC, Swisscom and Sunrise packages by combining the Home offer from Teleboy or the iWay service (City of Zurich only) with a TV plan from Zattoo.

It is also sad that UPC is charging an activation fee to existing customers who want to upgrade to the new console. The logic behind UPC’s decision to disadvantage its loyal customers compared to new customers is difficult to understand.

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Expert Ralf Beyeler
Ralf Beyeler is the telecom expert at moneyland.ch and also covers other areas of personal finance.