Optus opens FetchTV to third-party ISP users

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Optus opens FetchTV to third-party ISP users

Telstra included in unicast offering.

Optus has launched FetchTV for mobile and fixed-line customers, marking the first time that the internet protocol television product has been available to internet users on any ISP network.

IPTV product manager Chris Williamson said that the product, branded by Optus as MeTV, will be available to postpaid Optus mobile customers who use any fixed-line internet service provider.

Downloads and uploads are metered if using another service provider, however.

The set-top box will also be offered to Optus fixed-line customers on its copper and hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) networks from the end of this week for $9.95 a month or bundled with a $109 Fusion plan.

Television and movie downloads over the Optus fixed network are unmetered.

Though Optus had previously indicated plans to join a growing number of ISPs offering FetchTV in competition to Telstra's T-Box service, this week is the first time the telco has launched the product.

FetchTV chief executive Scott Lorson called the involvement of Australia's second largest telco the beginning of the service's "hard launch".

"We've been talking for a long time about our desire to create a true counterweight to the incumbent Telstra, Foxtel propositions in the market and form a coalition, if you will, of partners that we can go and offer a legitimate alternative," he said.

"If you're building that sort of coalition, it has to start with Optus."

The service has previously been available to customers of iiNet, Internode and Adam Internet.

Lorson has indicated plans to sign up the top ten largest providers in Australia after Telstra, with rumours that TPG is next.

iOS remote controls

Optus intends to differentiate from other FetchTV deals by offering iPad and iPhone applications from next month that allow users to remotely control and record programs.

Unlike other ISPs who offer FetchTV, the Optus service will be on-demand only using a specifically constructed content delivery network and HLS streaming technology rather than multicast.

Ovum analyst Tim Renowden said Optus' decision not to use FetchTV's existing multicast capability was an odd one, as the latter often provides a cheaper way of streaming media to a larger subscriber base.

It could be explained, he said, by the telco's desire to gain more control over its content and easier streaming to mobile devices.

An Optus spokesman told iTnews that while the telco has deployed multicast technology over its cable network, all FetchTV services will be a unicast and on-demand.

Fetch on the NBN?

The spokesman would not comment on whether it is trialling a multicast product NBN Co plans to offer over the National Broadband Network from mid-next year.

Newly appointed director of fixed line and National Broadband Network for Optus, Anthony Shiner, told iTnews the telco will communicate with customers directly as to an eventual move to multicast on the NBN.

"Our intention though is that [FetchTV] is a product that specifically showcases exactly the kind of product that suits the NBN," he said.

He would not clarify whether Optus will offer FetchTV and Foxtel - which it currently provides to HFC customers - over the NBN.

As part of the company's $800 million agreement with NBN Co, Optus has agreed to progressively decommission its HFC network as customers are migrated to the fibre network.

"I think we'll continue to work with all our partners in an NBN world. The specifics of the products everyone's bringing to market is still rather cloudy at the moment," he said.

"At the moment our focus is certainly FetchTV."

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