IPTV multicast trial ends before NBN review deadline

IPTV multicast trial ends before NBN review deadline

Summary: NBN Co's nearly year-long trial of IPTV services over the National Broadband Network will end this month, with the company not saying whether the service will continue.


A trial of IPTV over NBN Co's multicast product to under 100 homes conntected to the fibre-to-the-premises network in Rhodes in Western Sydney will come to an end as of November 30, with NBN Co not indicating whether the service will survive the company's strategic review.

The multicast product developed by NBN Co is designed to be a cost-saving method of distributing single-source content, such as television broadcasts, across to multiple users on the National Broadband Network. It will ideally be used for IPTV products, such as Fetch TV and Foxtel.

There has been no commercial launch of multicast yet, but a trial commenced in December last year, with iiNet and several other telcos all taking part to test service. The pilot was set to end at the end of June this year, but ZDNet confirmed that the trial was extended to the end of November this year.

iiNet's NBN product manager Rachael McIntyre said that while the trial was still ongoing, iiNet had delivered FetchTV to its other NBN customers through HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) adaptive bitrate streaming.

"iiNet's trial of multicast with NBN Co is ongoing, and is progressing well. The trial period was extended to November 30, but we have recently opened up iiNet TV with Fetch with the Entertainment Plus pack to all our NBN fibre customers. All our NBN customers can now add the iiNet TV with Fetch service and receive 29 channels via HLS adaptive bit rate streaming," McIntyre said.

"We are committed to delivery via multicast but importantly we wanted to have our NBN customers experience iiNet TV with Fetch now and enjoy all the benefits of great content and HD movies."

The multicast service is delivered via the same UNI-D port on an NBN network terminating device as a regular broadband service is delivers on, but with NBN Co currently reviewing its operations and the NBN rollout, a change in how broadband services will be delivered to fibre to the node, could ultimately change the multicast product.

The strategic review into NBN Co will be handed to the government on December 2.

As part of a recent plan overhaul, Optus last week launched unlimited plans for fixed broadband across ADSL, HFC and the NBN. One of the add ons to the bundle includes FetchTV, but ZDNet understands this is not currently being delivered as part of the multicast trial.

Despite repeated attempts to get a comment from the company last week, NBN Co would not confirm the future of the pilot after November.

Topic: NBN


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • These are the trials of doom

    Google will eventually take over what we now know as 'television'.

    If you accept that, then it is bizarre that local groups are even attempting 'television'. There are other doomed 'IPTV' trials going on too, such as the Freeview one (put together by local television stations who don't yet know what will hit them).

    Just what content do they expect to 'multicast'? Seriously, have they given this any thought? Multicast is a silly concept devised by those living in the past who hope to replicate the golden-era broadcasts of the pre-internet period.

    How will any of them survive against Google? Google controls the smartphone, the remote, the streaming platform (Chromecast), the advertising, the massive server farms in the cornfields of rural America. None of these local 'broadcasters' can compete.

    Foxtel is a sitting duck with no hope of surviving into the internet era, made worse by its majority owner (Telstra telephone company) limiting Foxtel IPTV to users of its own internet service, which will just hasten its demise.

    Another bizarre element of this is the data service (the Uni-D port) separated from the phone service (Uni-V port). Absolute madness. Don't they realize that in the internet era there are no 'phone calls'.

    The consumer doesn't need a 'telephone port'. It's just one big stream of zeros and ones. A telephone port is sheer stupidity, devised by the remnants of the colonial Post Master General's department, to assist with their delusional fantasy that people will still want a PSTN telephone line without the internet.

    Maybe those executives imagine themselves in safari pith-hats, controlling what everyone can send out on the bush telegraph line. A telephone port on the NBN fiber-optic network is an utter joke that goes against the original premise of the NBN to provide fast internet to everybody.

    Now you've got a government that wants to kill fiber-to-the-home (such technology is not required in a monastery anyway), and old-era broadcasters and telcos running around aimlessly on doomed safaris.
    • No

      First, you have too much faith in Google. The broadcast business is big, way, way bigger than Google will ever be.
      Whatever Google does is pretty much irrelevant to these guys. Just how well is Google TV going?

      Second, multicast, Google, data ports etc have nothing in common. Multicast is a technique to deliver (the same) content to multiple subscribers in your network, without wasting bandwidth and encoder resources. Here is an example for you:

      - a typical HD stream consumes 8-12 Mbit (let's settle for 10 Mbit for easy calculations);
      - each unicast stream consumes resources for both the transmitter and receiver;
      - each multicast stream consumes the same resources at the receiver, but only as much as one receiver resources at the transmitter;
      - in order to use multicast, the network path between the transmitter and the receiver must support (properly) multicast.

      Google's problem is that they do not own the whole Internet and cannot mandate where multicast is supported and where not. Therefore, Google simply can not use multicast over the Internet. No matter how much they would like to. They could, in theory offer mixed multicast/unicast service, if they host a re-streamer in an ISP network and that network does support multicast. A lot of administrative work and headaches -- to align both parties technologies.

      Now, imagine you are the ISP and you want to stream content in your network. If you have say 1000 subscribers in one small area, you need to supply to that area an *additional* 10Mbit x1000=10Gbit IP connectivity *only* for the TV service and only if each of your subscribers watches just one channel. This, considering you won't get much more money from that service. Now, most ISPs have denser networks and way more than 1000 customers.

      Welcome to multicast. With a single 10Mbit stream to your POP, you can serve those 1000 customers, or perhaps 10,000 or 100,0000 customers with that one HD channel. For the second channel, you add 10 Mbit. Also, with multicast, if you have say 100 channels, but only 10 are watched at any given time, you will only transport the bandwidth for 10 channels, not for 100. Irrespective of bandwidth.

      You only need to implement multicast on your own network. Something people knew pretty well how to do at least 20 years ago! Not Google.
      • But...

        I know what multicasting is. My point is that you have to have some content to multicast.

        What might that content be? "Television," I hear you say. Nope. The viewing market is going to be so fragmented, with everyone watching video streams from the USA, that there won't be anything here worth multicasting.

        The only thing would be the live programing. But the traditional television networks will lose most of their live content. Sport will be hosted directly by sporting organisations, and sent via Google to get advertisements inserted.

        Everyone's got this idea that 'television' as we knew it will just get transferred to the internet and multicast. It won't.
        • Multicast is not for TV - agree with Vbitrate

          Multicast has one use - live events (mainly sport, i cant think of anything else).

          "TV" is not streamed, the future is on demand. just because my neighbour want to want doesnt mean i do... AND if i do... i dont want to watch it at the same time.

          Multicast concept and technology needs to be limited to live events/sport.

          All other TV/Broadcast applications should forget about it