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TalkTalk to offer free Project Canvas set-top boxes with some broadband packages

With Project Canvas approved, TalkTalk has suggested that it may bundle free set-top boxes with certain broadband packages

Project Canvas, the multi-broadcaster project aimed at offering streaming TV content over the Internet, recently gained approval from the BBC Trust. With that hurdle cleared, the project will now need support from ISPs if it's going to be a success, and TalkTalk is suggesting that it may offer set-top boxes for free on certain broadband packages. That sounds pretty supportive to us.

It makes plenty of sense to have ISPs on-board, because Project Canvas, which is expected to launch with the brand name YouView, will consume a massive amount of data. Having ISPs like TalkTalk involved from the start should mean that they can charge an appropriate monthly fee to cover their costs, and ensure that the quality of service doesn't suffer. With boxes expected to retail at around £200, we'd assume that TalkTalk will want you to sign up for at least a 12-month contract in order to get a 'free' box.

Offering these boxes on specific contracts makes a great deal of sense after the iPlayer debacle, during which ISPs did nothing but moan about the amount of traffic being transferred over their networks. We had limited sympathy with such complaints, though. Most ISPs were hoist by their own petards, cutting the cost of contracts and quality of service, and then being surprised when they had insufficient cash to expand their networks.

Is the UK ready for an Internet TV system like Project Canvas? We don't know, but the situation has certainly improved recently, with clearer caps and proper unlimited packages appearing from certain LLU service providers, like Sky and Be. We're thrilled that we could be watching on-demand TV at a high quality on our TVs in the next year or so. If the BBC achieves what it's set out to, then Project Canvas, or YouView, could become the Freeview of the Internet quite quickly.