iiNet offers first 'true' IPTV

ISP to supply unmetered free-to-air and subscription TV to customers for around $30 a month

Internet Service Provider (ISP) iiNet will supply unmetered free-to-air and subscription TV to customers for around $30 a month as part of a new IPTV service.

The ISP will provide subscribers with content from Malaysian-based FetchTV, including pay-per-view high definition movies, Discovery, National Geographic, MTV, Fox International, E! Entertainment Television, and international news channels.

iiNet chief executive officer Michael Malone said its subscribers demanded the service.

“We feel very confident in launching this service against what’s currently on offer in the subscription TV market,” Malone said in a statement.

“We know we have the service credentials, the technical and network capability and now, in this partnership with FetchTV, we have a killer set top box packed with killer content.”

Rival Internode and a series of other ISPs are expected to sign deals with FetchTV.

iiNet customers will receive content from Disney; Roadshow; Lionsgate; MGM and newcasters the BBC, and CNBC. Some content will be available through video on demand.

Telsyte research director Warren Chaisatien said previous ‘IPTV’ offerings were re-badged broadband services that lacked the functionality of “true” IPTV.

“Online television content viewed on laptops doesn’t bridge the gap — people want to watch on their TVs — this service has bridged that gap,” Chaisatien said.

“The term ‘IPTV’ has been used by the ISP industry to loosely describe TV content delivered to laptops, but it lacks the functionality of true IPTV.”

The new functionality of ‘true’ IPTV means consumers can watch streamed broadcasts on their television sets through a set top box, and will eventually have access to interactive services.

However, Australia is still years off obtaining the feature-rich IPTV services in Japan and Korea due to our comparatively slow broadband speeds. Chaisatien said those services allow viewers, among other things, to purchase goods seen in television shows. “You could see a shirt that [an actor] is wearing and purchase it online,” Chaisatien said.

Developments in IPTV technology included a partnership between Google, Intel, and Sony last month to launch Google TV, the first television screen with an embedded Android operating system. The project aims to make navigation of web applications such as You Tube and Twitter as easy as flipping channels.

Telstra launched a trial of its T-Box in Melbourne in December last year that can stream movies and Internet TV from the Telstra Bigpond site along with set top box functions to pause, record and rewind digital free to air.

The iiNet deal with FetchTV follows calls by the ISP for content providers to make movies and music more available online to reduce pirate downloads.

iiNet chief regulatory officer, Steve Dalby, previously said the ISP could sit down with content producers "tomorrow" and work out a profitable content distribution model that would stamp out a lot of piracy.

"Their problem lies in the fact that the movie industry has invested hundreds of millions in creating demand for their catalogue of product by promoting and advertising their movies, and then allowed a black market to flourish by not satisfying the demand with legally available content," Dalby said in an email interview.

iiNet has been involved in a public legal fight with the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) for copyright infringements by its subscribers.

The FetchTV set top box includes 750Gb of storage, the ability to watch TV and simultaneously record two other programs, and HDMI, Dolby Digital and surround sound support.

FetchTV is not affiliated with the UK IPTV company of the same name.

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