Liberty Global hits 100k Horizon subs, bugs still surface

Liberty Global continues to be dogged by reliability problems afflicting its Horizon hybrid TV platform the week after announcing its bid worth $23 billion for UK cable operator Virgin Media.

This has led to the Dutch consumer association (Consumentenbond) launching a dedicated panel to bundle all complaints about the new set-top box in the Netherlands, where Liberty Global trades under the brand UPC. Consumentenbond stated that Horizon customers were still experiencing problems with the box, even though UPC has continually updated the software in a bid to eradicate them.

The problems include slow response from the set-top box, inability to access VOD and catch-up TV services, as well as regular loss of broadband internet connection. Boxes also often require “hard resets” over the network when they freeze and fail to respond normally. The new UPC Consumentenbond Horizon panel gives consumers a platform to air their concerns and find solutions.

This is an embarrassment for Liberty Global given that Horizon is at the core of its multiscreen strategy with plans to roll it out across Europe, having recently introduced it in Switzerland after starting with the Netherlands in September 2012. The problems first came to light in November 2012, when Consumentenbond reported that complaints started to come in right after the launch.

During the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam in October, Liberty Global CTO Balan Nair conceded some mistakes had been made, and promised updates that would resolve the problems. It seemed unlikely then that bugs would still be surfacing three months later.

At least the problems do not seem to be deterring customers from upgrading to the Horizon service, withsubscriptions in the Netherlands passing the 100,000 mark and CEO Mike Fries claiming significant early take-up in Switzerland.