Television is trying very hard to be the driver for people to upgrade to ever faster broadband services, the latest entrant into this area is Connect TV who have launched some 45 channels. The channels can now use IPTV to deliver their channel outside of the DTT timeslot, or carry extra on demand content, the internet content appearing in the channels normal Freeview channel number on the EPG.
Delivering an IPTV service at around a bit rate of around 1.5 Mbps is nothing new, the difference is that this service utilises MHEG-5 which is part of the Freeview HD standard and should therefore work on most Freeview HD boxes released after April 2011.
For consumers a big advantage is that no new hardware or confused menu system has to be learnt, they stay within their familiar EPG, the only change being that the Freeview HD box needs linking to their broadband connection. For broadcasters they can avoid the expense of having to buy a full 24 hours of over-the-air bandwidth, which due to the limited spectrum Freeview has can be expensive.
The way that the IPTV integrates means that people who are on a metered usage service need to ensure that they don't leave a box on streaming when not watching content, as the current quality level consumers around 550 MB per hour.
As well as working on the newer Freeview HD boxes, there are a number of legacy devices that the service should work on:
The bitrate at launch of 1.5 Mbps will ensure a very wide audience should be able to experience the service (around 90% of UK broadband should be able to stream that speed), and the fact that you are not having to swap around remotes, or add yet another box below the TV will appeal to those who want to keep things simple in the lounge.
Of course as with all streamed video delivered over internet, there will be the issue of peak time congestion, all too often it is this congestion that makes people think they need faster broadband, when the reality is often that they just need a service provider that has more capacity to cope with peak times.