iiNet trials pay-TV service

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iiNet trials pay-TV service

Staff and Whirlpool community get first taste.

iiNet has partnered with wholesale content aggregator FetchTV to introduce a new subscription TV service for Australian households.

The broadband-based service includes standard (SD) and high definition (HD) digital free-to-air TV, along with subscription channels, pay-per-view movies and a range of social networking applications and games.

Content is received by FetchTV from international media companies via satellite, and distributed to four access points in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide.

It is then delivered by FetchTV's partner ISPs such as iiNet through their local exchanges and DSLAMs. The service is expected to require bandwidth upwards of 3.5 Mbps for SD content, and upwards of 7.5 Mbps for HD.

iiNet segregates and prioritises network traffic so that FetchTV content streams -- which will be unmetered -- is not interrupted by other online activities.

Meanwhile, FetchTV traffic may impact concurrent download speeds, but "we're confident that the implications will not be noticeable," iiNet's CTO Greg Bader said.

Bader told iTnews that the service and partnership stemmed from longstanding discussions with FetchTV.

The ISP publicly supported the content aggregation model for some time, he said, and while it had the technology to deliver an IPTV service, it lacked content acquisition expertise until now.

Bader described the Australian content market as "somewhat distorted from the rest of the world", he said, alluding to the dominance of Telstra's Foxtel.

"We see this [FetchTV] product as a significant disruptor," he said. "The market for subscription TV is going to change."

FetchTV CEO Scott Lorson told iTnews that current Australian subscription TV offerings met the needs of few, and expected FetchTV to service a greater portion of the populace.

"The market is characterised by low penetration and high pricing," he said. "We're aiming at the 70 percent of Australian households that have elected not to take up subscription TV as it stands."

FetchTV is positioned as a wholesale aggregator whose subscription service is available solely through partner ISPs.

Noting that iiNet has been "heavily involved" in the initial development of the service, Lorson told iTnews that FetchTV planned to partner with ISPs with the scale and infrastructure to support a compelling, high quality service.

"We are currently targeting the top ten ISPs in Australia and in active discussions with the majority," he said. FetchTV hoped to reach 85 percent of metropolitan households through partner ISPs.

To receive the service, end users need to have access to DSLAMs with multicast capabilities, and purchase FetchTV's digital set top box. Bader noted that iiNet users on Telstra infrastructure would not be eligible for the service.

FetchTV is partnered with pay-TV security provider Verimatrix, IPTV middleware vendor Orca, and Hong Kong based company Yuxing InfoTech, which manufactures the set top box.

Currently, FetchTV boasts content delivery agreements with Discovery Networks, National Geographic, MTV Networks, Fox International Channels, E! Entertainment Television, BBC World News, CNBC, ABC, Roadshow Entertainment, Disney Media Distribution, MGM and Lionsgate.

The basic service is expected to retail between $25 and $30 per month and will include 20 channels, as well as access to a library of pay-per-view content.

iiNet has commenced trialling the technology with staff and "a number of noisy people from [broadband forum] Whirlpool", who Bader said were the ISP's "biggest and loudest critics".

The trial would be expanded to include members of the press and "industry aware" customers this month, and FetchTV would launch commercially on iiNet by mid-2010, Bader said.

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