Iliad, the telecommunications firm behind Free, has simply unveiled a brand new Freebox at a press convention in its places of work. French billionaire Xavier Niel can also be a newbie investor with Kima Ventures, proprietor of Station F and creator of a faculty known as 42.
When Free unveiled its first Freebox in 2002, it was the primary French Web service supplier to supply a triple play service with DSL Web, limitless calls to French telephones and tv for $ 34 per 30 days (â‚¬ 29.99).
However issues have modified dramatically since. OTT providers, akin to Netflix or Molotov, in addition to Apple's or Android-powered media gamers, compete straight with these packing containers.
Free is now at a turning level. He has been dropping his subscribers for a yr and his shares have misplaced about 40% in only one yr.
In different phrases, Xavier Niel wants this Freebox to be a hit to draw new subscribers, improve the typical income per person and show you can compete with conventional telecommunication firms by betting on know-how.
The result’s the Delta Freebox, a compilation of many alternative applied sciences in a single supply. It actually appears to be like like a delta and consists of Devialet audio system, Sigfox connectivity, Amazon Alexa, ZigBee connectivity for linked objects and extra.
"All of this may value hundreds of euros, however we make it accessible," mentioned Niel.
By selecting a premium positioning, Free should show that he cares about his community. Now you can rise up to 10 Gbps utilizing a fiber optic connection and the brand new Freebox – you’re then restricted to Gigabit Ethernet ports.
"We consider that fiber optics is the know-how you want and the know-how we want," Niel mentioned.
However should you reside within the countryside, the Freebox now completely combines DSL with a 4G LTE connection, which provides us a glimpse of the way forward for 5G on the nook of the road.
From a easy modem to a house concentrator
The modem a part of the package deal comes with a 1TB onerous drive. You’ll be able to arrange as much as four onerous drives and use RAID to create a really small NAS together with your Freebox. It comes with two Powerline Community Adapters you can plug into your modem with the assistance of a single USB-C cable – the adapter serves as an influence block.
The set-top field half is a 4K HDR multimedia field with a house working system. Extra importantly, it's additionally a Devialet loudspeaker. Devialet works on high-end audio system with a easy objective: zero background noise, zero saturation and nil distortion. These audio system value a small fortune.
Niel is an investor within the French start-up. That's why it is sensible to combine Devialet's algorithms and chipsets into the Freebox. There are 6 audio system and it ought to change the sound bar of your TV fairly simply.
You’ll be able to stream music through WiFi (AirPlay), Bluetooth and Spotify Join. If you would like one thing else, there are additionally Deezer, Qobuz, YouTube, Dailymotion and Twitch apps – however you have to to activate the TV to entry them.
The Delta Freebox additionally acts as a voice assistant. There’s a hardware change to activate the microphones. You’ll be able to then use a house assistant known as "Okay Freebox" to manage the system. And you should utilize Amazon Alexa for extra complicated queries.
I used to be not impressed by the mixing of two voice assistants. This may confuse many people who find themselves going to say "Alexa, activate Arte" as a substitute of "Okay Freebox, Activate Arte". The TV interface has additionally been redesigned and appears so much like Molotov.
Subscribers profit from the most affordable Netflix subscription stage totally free and might improve for an extra cost of three or 6 â‚¬ per 30 days. The fundamental channels of the channel are included. Subscriptions to newspapers and magazines are included through LeKiosk.
Freebox of Issues
With the brand new system, Free guess on linked objects. The Delta Freebox is linked to the Sigfox community and might management ZigBee objects, akin to Philips Hue lamps and Somfy blinds.
New subscribers have a number of sensors to begin with. You get a linked digital camera, a door sensor, a movement detector and a tiny distant management. You should purchase extra equipment sooner or later. Your Freebox can then provide you with a warning if an error happens within the Freebox software.
Much more attention-grabbing, the Freebox comes with two distant controls – a basic distant management and a distant management with contact display screen. The interface of the good distant management modifications relying on what you do, which jogs my memory so much Prizm. And it seems that the group behind Prizm has joined the corporate, in keeping with a supply. However they haven’t had the time to work a lot.
Free suffered so much from the competitors. After promoting cheaper to everybody, opponents have caught up and are actually providing related providers at about the identical value.
To distinguish his supply, Free va prime.
Orange has all the time attracted premium subscribers due to heavy community funding and premium pricing. Free desires to hitch Orange on this section and go away behind Bouygues Telecom and SFR.
Free additionally launches at present a brand new, cheaper Freebox, the Freebox One. However it’s clear that the corporate desires to speak about its flagship supply. The subscription to the following stage prices 50 â‚¬ per 30 days and the corporate desires you to pay for the system.
As a substitute of lending you a Delta Freebox, it should value you $ 10 a month for 48 months. You’ll be able to maintain it eternally. Niel hinted at larger ambitions. Lastly, the corporate desires to promote the Freebox Delta to customers in different international locations, even when they cannot subscribe to Free.
Total, the brand new Freebox appears to be like like a melting pot of know-how (a bowl of Chocapic, say French readers). Solely Free is aware of the ecosystem of startups so nicely to carry all these applied sciences collectively.
Let's see now if Free has what it takes to turn out to be a full-fledged shopper electronics firm. It's an formidable guess.