Hotels could get video on demand in 2002

Video on demand may be available in hotels and apartment blocks in downtown Auckland and Wellington as soon as next year.

Video on demand may be available in hotels and apartment blocks in downtown Auckland and Wellington as soon as next year.

United Networks is discussing the possibility of allowing ISP Ihug and interactive TV company Ice Interactive to use its fibre-optic network to supply video on demand, a technology whereby videos are stored digitally in a server and transmitted, coded and compressed, to be played on set-top boxes, eliminating the need for video cassettes and shops.

“We plan to be testing prototypes in the third quarter of this year,” says Ihug chief executive Nick Wood.

Ice Interactive is interested, but chief executive Reg Russ says it’s early days yet.

Ihug is interested in using MPEG-4 technology, Wood says, while Ice Interactive is more likely to use MPEG-2, an earlier version of the compressed digital video protocol. “At this stage, we’ d probably end up with the MPEG-2 standard, though we’re keeping an eye on MPEG-4,” Russ says.

United Networks communications general manager Sean McDonald says the company’s network, created when it fed fibre-optic cable through gas pipes it acquired from natural gas carrier Orion New Zealand last year, covers 95% of downtown Auckland and Wellington.

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