Telecom promises IPTV in 2009, but rivals say they can deliver it now

Taylormade Media recently broadcast IPTV internationally, from Valencia, while covering the 2007 America's Cup races

Regulatory and technical issues are holding up the delivery of local Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) services, says Telecom. However, other providers claim they can deliver the service now.

During an energetic session at last month’s Wellington “Out of the Box — New Broadcasting Futures” conference, Telecom’s general manager of video services, Philip King, held out the prospect of wholesale bandwidth for IPTV services — “broadband to your television” — being delivered by late 2009.

A full IPTV service will require a dedicated 2Mbit/s link to the home, said King. Diagnostics have to be set up to cover drop-outs in the link and this isn’t easy, he told the conference.

Telecom aims to provide a service with a high degree of reliability, but today’s broadband is a “best endeavour service”, he added.

An IPTV service would also have to be available wholesale, to comply with new telecomms regulations. This would mean any of Telecom’s rivals could use the service to deliver their own IPTV offering to customers, which presents its own difficulties, said King.

However, Ian Taylor, of Taylormade Media and Animation Research, told King that his company recently broadcast IPTV internationally, from Valencia, while covering the 2007 America’s Cup races. It also found telecomms partners to help cover the Monsoon Cup, a prestigious yacht race held in Malaysia, and is now planning IPTV coverage of this year’s Wanaka aerobatics show to send out to the world, he said.

“And you tell us 2009 is the earliest we can have IPTV in New Zealand.”

Taylor, who was one of the demonstrators in the “True Life Stories” session that followed afterwards, rubbed his point home during this session by showing high-resolution TV from Spanish-Australian joint venture dargo.tv to the audience.

Questioned by Computerworld regarding the bandwidth and compression that made all this possible, Taylor said: “Now you’re talking technical stuff. I don’t do that. All I know is it works. And it’ll work on your home computer, too.”

Dargo’s website claims high-definition, full-screen TV is possible over a 1.2Mbit/s link, with the help of client software on the user’s machine — not the 2Mbit/s that King claims is necessary. Representatives of the Gibson Group added to Telecom’s embarrassment by describing how they created The Simon Eliot Show, a children’s programme hosted by Simon, an animated figure, from his bedroom and featuring live television feeds from camera-equipped PCs supplied to four quiz contestants. Their faces show on cartoon television sets parked on Simon’s furniture.

The Gibson Group had to set up a dedicated network, provided by Kordia, negotiating everything from adverse weather conditions to a car unexpectedly parked in a contestant’s driveway, where equipment had to be set up, to get reliable transmission without breaks. Even so, said chief executive Dave Gibson, “fastest finger first” questions aren’t possible because network latency could disadvantage some contestants.

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