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UPDATE Netflix Internet Film Subscription Service Finally Goes LIVE in the UK

Posted: 09th Jan, 2012 By: MarkJ
netflix ukNetflix, a broadband internet based unlimited film and TV subscription service, has moved to take on the likes of LOVEFiLM by officially launching its service in the UK from just £5.99 per month. A special 1 month free trial offer (cancel at any time) is also being promoted for new subscribers.

Netflix's content selection, which includes TV shows (e.g. 'The Only Way is Essex' and 'Prison Break') that can mostly already be found through other Video-on-Demand (VoD) platforms, is initially a bit uninspiring. Film content is dominated by older classics like The English Patient but does range to more recent action flicks, such as Blitz.

Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix, said:

"We are starting 2012 in the best possible way: by giving consumers in the UK and Ireland an amazing entertainment experience. Now, you can enjoy as many great films and TV programmes as you want, when you want, where you want, for one low monthly price with no contracts or commitments."

The "all-you-can-eat" service is available on a raft of different devices from computers (Mac, Windows), to games consoles (Sony PS3, Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360), mobile phones (Android , iPhone) and related tablets. As usual the video quality will depend upon your broadband speed.

According to Netflix, its films come with three different video quality settings (based on Microsoft Silverlight technology). The lowest quality requires a "minimum speed" of 500Kbps (0.5Mbps) and will consume up to 0.3GB/hour of data. By contrast the High Definition (HD) stream eats up to 2.3GB/hour and will need a stable speed of about 5Mbps.

A number of new IPTV and VoD style internet streaming services are expected to reach the UK in 2012, not least of which will be the YouView ( BT and TalkTalk TV ) platform. As usual customers should check to make sure that their existing package can cope with the heavy demands of video streaming. Many of their films and TV shows are also available with Dolby® Digital Plus 5.1 sound.

At launch, Netflix is offering films and TV programmes from All3Media, the BBC, CBS, Channel 4’s 4oD, Disney UK & Ireland, ITV, Lionsgate UK, MGM, Miramax, Momentum Pictures, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox and Viacom International Media Networks.

UPDATE 12:48pm

Infinera, a firm that aims to provide the world's most economically compelling optical networks, has warned that Netflix represents "a huge challenge" for telecoms providers and is estimated to account for "nearly a third" of all peak downstream internet traffic.

Chris Champion, VP EMEA for Infinera, told ISPreview.co.uk:

"Telecoms providers in the UK have made great strides in terms of meeting the demand for bandwidth hungry services and the likes of BBC iPlayer have put a heavy strain on the network. But if Netflix replicates just a proportion of its US success in the UK, it will mean carriers have to raise the bar again.

The demand for superfast internet access speeds have forced the network to evolve rapidly and 100 GB/s is the new speed of choice. With the growth of video, mobile and cloud based services 500 GB/s fibre optic ‘superchannels’ will be needed to accommodate the capacity needed in the future.

Operators should see this as an opportunity to future proof their network with the innovative technologies available. Photonic integration for example, makes it possible to lower the ‘cost per bit’ of this traffic enabling carriers to capitalise on the resulting margin that demand for premium connections will generate."

At this stage Netflix still has a long way to go. It's an interesting and potentially quite attractive service, one that we plan to use ourselves (at least for the trial period), although much of its content can be found elsewhere for free (note: so long as you have a TV License) and similar services already exist.
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