Exciting future beckons for broadband TV

Man and woman watching TVImagine watching your favourite pop star's concert live over broadband and then choosing the option to pay to be at the backstage party afterwards.

It may sound like a futuristic dream even for the devoted 'technorati'. But the launch of a portfolio of products from BT Wholesale which has established broadband as a TV platform is set to bring it a step closer.

The landmark digital service is called Content Connect and it's already improving the experience of watching and listening to digital content on the web.

The product can deliver digital content to computers, TVs, and in the future mobile devices, on behalf of UK internet service providers giving broadcasters access to a large end user base – irrespective of service provider or technology.

Some media groups already use content delivery networks. But in many cases the services only reach the edge of an ISP network, with the final stage delivered 'over the top' with no guarantee on quality of service.

The use of BT's next generation Content Connect platform caches content deep in the broadband network. This allows it to deliver content much closer to the customer in a cost effective way, making it a perfect solution to manage the rapidly rising volume of content being consumed over broadband.

For broadcasters it means they can provide video content – and in future live TV – with an assured level of service all the way to the viewer, providing uninterrupted access even at peak times.

Simon Orme, BT Wholesale's strategy director of content services points out that content consumed over fixed and mobile networks is doubling every year. “The industry is witnessing an upsurge of growth in content delivery over broadband. Driving it is the insatiable demand of video services being watched at home, at work or on the move. The rise is being spurred on by the uptakeof fibre broadband and mobile broadband services.”

Adding weight to Simon's comments is industry research which suggests that online video consumption is set to fundamentally change the way we watch TV.

Technology neutral

According to Cisco by 2013 around 90 per cent of consumer internet traffic will be video related. Research by ABI also revealed that the number of online video viewers worldwide will double to 1.3 billion by 2016.

And today YouTube notches up more than a billion views a day, Apple's iTune store has sold more than 10 billion songs, and in April 2011 alone, the BBC i-player handled 118 million requests – of which 85 million were for TV programmes.

BT Wholesale recognises the challenges and opportunities that digital content delivery over broadband presents to the industry.

But the business has stepped up to the mark and is rapidly establishing broadband as a TV delivery platform, taking advantage of its unrivalled network expertise and 21CN software capabilities.

With Content Connect BT Wholesale has produced a 'technology neutral' product which can support content delivery over today's nationwide broadband networks, including copper and fibre access technologies. Plans are also in the pipeline to host emerging 4G technologies.

But Content Connect is not just about imaginative technology. It's also about delivering quality content to end users in an efficient and lasting way.

It provides internet service providers with a sustainable, end-to-end content distribution platform, and content service providers with the ability to extract more value from their services. In the long term Content Connect will open up new market opportunities by allowing an innovative and converged experience over broadband.

Practically the product brings together the power of broadband and TV and is the springboard to exciting and imaginative digital content experiences for customers.

The launch of Content Connect is also a major step in BT Wholesale's evolution. As a business its aim is to maximise the value of broadband to all the broadband stakeholder community by establishing it as a mainstream cost-effective television distribution platform.