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Online VoD Service YouView Finally Gets the Go Ahead

YouView, the eagerly anticipated internet-based TV service, is at last ready to begin first-stage public trials after the project's board, chaired by Lord Sugar, approved the decision.

Three hundred and fifty homes will receive a web-connect set top box giving them access to a range of free online content from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 among others, in addition to an initial selection of subscription based apps like Amazon's Lovefilm.

For the first time, members of the public will be able to catch a glimpse of the new BBC-led service, which has so far been tested in secrecy. If the first round of trials is successful, it is hoped the box can be 'labratted' on a larger group of consumers in four weeks.

The preliminary test roll out comes after a couple of years of delay. The product was originally supposed to launch in 2010 and the most recent missed target was the 14th of May, when Sir Alan (AKA Suralun) personally stopped it from moving forward to wider testing.

Commentators say the string of delays will make entry into the market more difficult, as the postponements have cooled public interest and given other electronics makers a chance to catch up - Google and Apple are both now heavily rumoured to be entering the smart TV market.

The summer's sporting festivities are seen as the next make-or-break date for YouView, according to industry insiders, with TalkTalk's CEO Dido Harding - the telecoms giant also collaborated on the project - saying it will launch by September.

"If they can't get it out before the Olympics, which is looking less and less likely, I wouldn't bother," said Ian Maude of Enders Analysis

When the boxes are finally made commercially available, they are expected to retail in the region of £200.