NBN Co shelves multicast expansion for fixed network

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NBN Co shelves multicast expansion for fixed network

Lack of interest.

NBN Co has shelved plans to introduce multicast capabilities across its entire fixed-line network, citing an apparent lack of interest.

The network builder’s decision was disclosed in the latest version of its integrated product roadmap, which was released just prior to Christmas last year.

It had been planning what it called ‘Multicast 2.0’, where it would bring multicast capabilities to FTTN/B and HFC users by the end of 2018.

“The implementation of the multicast product on NBN Co’s other fixed line access technologies – FTTN, FTTB and HFC – has been halted,” an NBN Co spokesperson told iTnews.

“We did not see sufficient demand from our customers to justify commercialisation.”

NBN Co launched multicast on the fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network back in 2012, initially as a way to efficiently deliver IPTV over the network.

It was designed “so that service providers can inject broadcast IPTV channels into one or more of NBN Co's 121 points of interconnect (PoI), each of which serves around 150,000 premises".

“From each PoI, these video streams can then be replicated to potentially thousands of viewers, saving on backhaul costs and creating significant network efficiencies compared with a standard data service,” NBN Co said at the time.

ISP iiNet trialled the delivery of Fetch TV services to NBN users with the multicast feature at the time.

While the IPTV market that was envisaged has not eventuated, multicast will remain an option on the FTTP network as well as for alternative use cases.

Back in 2012, NBN Co said multicast was designed to "create efficiencies anytime a service provider wishes to distribute a single piece of data to many end-users - for example, online education materials".

NBN Co last year opened a technical trial for multicast services on its Sky Muster satellite network, where they are used to deliver materials for distance education.

The network builder announced today that the trials will run over the next few months "in 15 locations across the Northern Territory including the School of The Air in Alice Springs, Katherine and Ludmilla".

"NBN Co will work with the schools to test different learning scenarios and ensure the technology can be optimised ahead of the national product launch, which is scheduled for mid-2018," it said.

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