Tuesday, August 28, 2007

P2P not suited for distributing broadcast video

Recently UK ISPs complained to the BBC that it put the entire logistic and financial burden on the ISPs with regard to the distribution of video. BBC has introduced its own software iPlayer with a plug-in for the users. The BBC software uses partly peer-2-peer technology. BBC saves on hosting and data costs, but the ISPs get higher costs. Also in the Netherlands problems are showing up between broadcasters and ISPs; with the live streams of the French cycle event Tour de France many ISPs was forced to its limits. Tonie van Ringelenstein, a Dutch freelance journalist, writing amongst others for Emerce, made a tour around the experts and discovered that a new cooperation between providers and broadcasters is upcoming.

Some time ago there was already talk of using the new P2P software Tribler for distributing broadcast material. A trial of the Dutch public broadcast companies and two universities to relay the content of the popular broadcast site Missed the program, has not started yet due to legal complications.

Now a new initiative comes from providers active in the internet exchange Ams-IX. Providers, public broadcast companies and the commercial TV company RTL Netherlands are talking to each other in order to reach an open protocol, so that the video distribution through internet will become cheaper and more reliable. The first tests are planned for this autumn. In this system the most popular content items of the broadcast companies will be put on the servers of the providers automatically; the providers will be able to distribute them through their own network. It saves data traffic for the ISPs and will put less strain on the servers of the broadcasters.

Presently there is already some experience with the system as the public broadcast companies use it amongst themselves. A subgroup of the AMS-IX video working party consisting of public broadcast companies, RTL, XS4all and Solcon works on the protocol. It will be an open protocol for all video content providers, providing them with an automatic caching of the most interesting video content. In this way the content is brought as close to the user as possible. Popular videos are counted by the ISP and as soon as a maximum is reached the content file will be automatically cached for further distribution.

The situation in the Netherlands is favourable for the cooperation between the providers and the broadcast companies given the success of AMS-IX, the on-demand video sites of the Public broadcast companies and RTL and the high amount of broadband connections in the Netherlands. Besides there is much video content on hand in the Netherlands and the demand is great.

The activities take place within a trial. The business side of business models, financial clearance among the parties and legal complications will be ignored during the trial. Basis for the trial is to transport content to the end-user in a proper way, efficiently and cheaply.

Blog Posting Number: 851

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