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Who is the largest IPTV service in the UK?
Monday 18 February 2008 13:24:36 by Andrew Ferguson

When is an IPTV service not an IPTV service? A good question. informitv.com claims that the 150,000 customers with BT Vision do not count and ignores the various video sites such as YouTube or catch-up services like BBC iPlayer and Channel4 4oD.

The crown apparently belongs to Freewire TV who multicast the main 25 Freeview channels over an IP network to student halls and residences and currently have some 40,000 people on the service. The service is free, with top-up deals available to allow you to view channels such as Setanta sports. Currently it is limited to running on Windows XP or later, with a TV set-top box and Mac support in the pipeline.

So if your definition of IPTV is that it must use multicast to deliver the TV channels then FreeWire wins. BT Vision only broadcasts the Video-on-Demand material over the broadband connection preferring to receive the Freeview channels over-the-air so it is a hybrid model rather than an IP based one. If your definition of IPTV is any video service over a broadband connection (using the Internet Protocol, or "IP"), then the various catch-up TV services (iPlayer, etc.) and video websites such as YouTube come into the reckoning. One key advantage of the BT Vision and many online video sites is the ability to pause content, something that appears not to be in the pipeline for the Freewire service. It is to be noted however that multicast is likely to play an increasingly larger part on broadcast distribution via the Internet.

While the service is currently only available to students, there are suggestions that Inuk's wider rollout of IPTV services maybe on the cards.

Comments

Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Looking at the freewire site (NOT tried it) that service looks pretty good, no charge either unless you want extra channels, unlike BT Vision
Posted by AndrueC over 9 years ago
Multicast is a waste of time in general. It's not going to get anyone to invest in BB infrastructure since it's only offering what can be had for free using a TV and an aerial by most people.

VoD is where BB could shine. The ability to choose any programme or film broadcast or made within the last twenty minutes whenever you want.
Posted by AndrueC over 9 years ago
Lol! Never post a reply while talking to someone. I meant "..in the last twenty years.." :D
Posted by fusen over 9 years ago
I'm at Kent uni and we are offered freewire over our campus network. The main drawback to it is the horrendously poor client that is just bloated and slow. Apart from that, and the occasional poor quality due to too much traffic over the network making the stream go corrupt it's good for a free service.
Posted by kendal01 over 9 years ago
re: AndrueC, maybe you could explain why multicast is a waste of time??
if anything multicast is the way forward especially the bandwidth savings that isp's can get with it.
I have seen this service and it is a good idea, it just needs a few years to mature, things like a better client and qos will help with the experience.
Posted by AndrueC over 9 years ago
@kendal01:If you read my comment you'll see why. Multicast is only useful if you broadcast to a schedule. It allows you to distribute the same content to many people. The problem with that is that we've had the technology to do that for over sixty years. It's called television. No one with any sense gives a monkey about scheduled IPTV.

The exciting bit - the functionality that's different and new is true VoD. Any programme. Any film. Any time.

Multicast won't help that much because you can't combine streams very often.
Posted by AndrueC over 9 years ago
"distribute same content to many people at the same time".
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
There are ways and means of using it, such as semi-scheduled content. For example, you select a movie, and either watch it now for a certain price, or a for a lower price the movie will be cached overnight...
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"Multicast is a waste of time in general. It's not going to get anyone to invest in BB infrastructure since it's only offering what can be had for free using a TV and an aerial by most people."

Absolute rubbish, Iplayer and 4OD have been sucessful and they offer nothing which you couldnt of viewed on your TV or recorded. Other slightly less legal watch tv live apps also are pretty popular. I dont deny VOD is nice to have but just because you cant pick and choose when you want to watch something doesnt make it a waste of time. (CONT)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
An app like that on a multimedia pc hooked up to your big TV would be great... Work and watch TV i like the sound of that and all without having to buy a tuner card. Id say if done right it has potential to be very popular.
Posted by therioman over 9 years ago
"re: AndrueC, maybe you could explain why multicast is a waste of time??
if anything multicast is the way forward especially the bandwidth savings that isp's can get with it."

As I understand it, at least for ISPs using current BT Centrals, they don't get any benefit from it currently due to the way Centrals work, so it's currently a moot point at the most useful point of the multicast environment. [NOTE: I can't remember if this is strictly true]
Posted by KarlAustin over 9 years ago
Yes, it is true, multicast offers no savings if you use BT Centrals right now, although I believe BT are working on multicast with 21CN.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 9 years ago
Given iPlayer and 4oD let you watch any show you forgot to record for a 7 day window then it is something that is difficult to do at home.

Consider the storage space needed to store all BBC channels at home for 7 days and number of decoders needed.

Series link on PVR's comes close but it is easy to miss the first episode of a new series etc.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
"over an IP network to student halls and residences " - so its a LAN based service, why would this be of general interest ?
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"Given iPlayer and 4oD let you watch any show you forgot to record for a 7 day window then it is something that is difficult to do at home.

Consider the storage space needed to store all BBC channels at home for 7 days and number of decoders needed."

Fair point but lets be honest who wants access to every programme anyway?? Most people are only fans of a few tv series.
Posted by ChrisRedpath over 9 years ago
Consider the storage space needed to store all BBC channels at home for 7 days and number of decoders needed.

6 decoders for 6 mux @ 24mbit/s (after DSO).

10.38TBi (binary) would store 7 days of ALL the tv and radio in the UK.

You could easily have this in each exchange and use no backhaul.
Posted by ChrisRedpath over 9 years ago
This would fit on around 20 1TB drives (RAID1 for maintenance) at a *retail* cost of £3k (150 each).

Assume 10% discount and no vat, you're only looking at £2300.

You could probably build a box which can do this for about 10K per unit.
Posted by c_j_ over 9 years ago
Whenever I've asked about multicast and 21CN, no one has been able to explain why Multicast will be any more helpful under 21CN than it is today (which isn't very).

In fact, network fragmentation due to LLU makes multicast *less* relevant today than when BTw had 99% of the market.

Additionally, domestic routers which properly support multicast are rare as **** anyway.

ChrisR's rack of off-air receivers and storage in each "exchange" makes far more sense technically than any multicast-based hopelessness, but the delivery economics aren't attractive.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
Chris, you can store 10% of the TV and fill 95% of the viewing requirements and stream the other 5%.
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