Is IPTV ever going to take off?

Columns & Opinion, Internet, TVs

Will Head writes…

BT finally managed to get its much delayed BT Vision IPTV service out the door at the end of last year and then it all went a bit quiet, with barely a peep heard about it since then.

That’s all set to change, apparently, with a multi-gazillion pound campaign that’ll no doubt have us all queuing up to get our mitts on a BT Vision box.

Given the apparent benefits that IPTV brings, it’s a bit of a wonder that we haven’t all dumped our Freeview and Sky boxes and jumped aboard the revolution.

First there’s the problem of content – Sky is the dominant player when it comes to pay TV channels, and coincidentally if you want the best it has to offer then you’ll only find it coming out of a satellite dish.

Virgin Media customers may feel let down that they lost Sky One – people on IPTV service Homechoice (now Tiscali TV) are unlikely to be that sympathetic as it was never even an option to be taken away in the first place.

Broadcasters do finally seem to be getting their head around on-demand content, though, with Channel 4 giving you the ability to catch up on programs up to a week after they’ve aired. It’s a bit like having a Tivo that you don’t even have to set to record. And then there’s movie rentals too – just browse through the thousands available and it’s delivered instantly for you to enjoy there and then.

One thing that might stop IPTV in its tracks, though, is HD. Broadband speeds have only just become sufficiently fast enough to carry standard def programming reliably and also allow you to still use the connection at the same time. Start trying to throw HD down the same pipes and it’s likely to clog up fairly soon. Let’s hope the broadband network can keep up, otherwise IPTV could get left behind, before it’s really got going in the first place.

Will Head
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