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BBC Details Open Broadband TV Standard Cost and Features

Posted: 27th Feb, 2009 By: MarkJ
The BBC Trust has launched the first of two public consultations into plans to develop Project Canvas (here), a joint on-demand TV over broadband (IPTV) service. The proposal aims to create a standards based open environment for broadband connected digital television (DTV) receivers (set-top-boxes, STB). It would allow Internet TV services, such as the BBC's iPlayer, to be viewed via TV sets.

Project Canvas, which is predicted to cost £16.6m, was initially announced last December (original news) as a joint venture between the BBC, ITV and BT. The service will be open for all public broadcasters, device developers and ISPs. The final BBC conclusion, following consultation, is expected to be made public in the summer.

The BBC has also revealed some of the predicted features and costs of the service, which we've attempted to summarise below:

  • No monthly fee would apply, although the STB would cost between £100 and £200.

  • STB's meeting the standard would be either aerial (Freeview) or a satellite (Freesat) based.

  • STB's would all need to be 'HD-Ready' (High Defintion TV).

  • STB'S would most likely include personal video recorder (PVR) storage, usually via internal hard disk drives.

  • STB's would require Internet connectivity (Wireless or Wired).

  • An electronic programme guide (EPG) would be included.
The BBC Trust is expected to publish its preliminary conclusions in June of this year, with a final decision expected to follow on or around 24th July. The service itself would then launch sometime in 2010, although no precise dates have been offered.

We like the idea of such a service, although it's unclear how this would impact broadband ISP usage and cost. Most existing commercial ISP based IPTV services mitigate this by charging a fee, not just for the extra content but also to cover bandwidth increases.

It's possible that some providers might launch special packages to support the service, with improved bandwidth allocation. This could threaten net neutrality but might also promote wider adoption of IPTV, especially if the STB's could be expanded to include optional commercial services.
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