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IPTV in the UK: BBC and Motorola sound off

We want to watch TV via the Internet, but we'd like our favourite shows in their entirety, rather than just in 10-minute chunks -- Auntie and Moto show us what they're working on

Most of us don't give a hoot how our TV is delivered, we just want to watch Big Brother with minimal fuss. But IPTV can offer us lots of extra features, such as on-demand movies and maybe one day high-definition TV. Yesterday Crave pitched up at a roundtable discussion about IPTV, which featured bigwigs from the BBC and Motorola, among others.

The BBC has dipped its corporate toe in the water, with the much-delayed iPlayer, which is an IPTV system, of sorts. We think of it more like a version of YouTube, but with full programmes and some nasty DRM thrown in for good measure. Hopefully in the future the content on the iPlayer will be available to people via their Xbox 360 or Apple TV.

Motorola is working on a number of ways to distribute content over via the Internet to its set-top boxes. This is includes streaming live video over the next generation of super-fast DSL -- VDSL -- and other technology that downloads content overnight, a good solution for people stuck on slower broadband connections.

According to Motorola, IPTV is suffering some delays because it is still working on the DRM to protect content delivered over the internet. As distasteful as this is to us, without it, TV companies won't allow their content anywhere near the Internet. Once again, innovation is being stifled by a wholly ineffective technology.

If you want an IPTV service in the UK right now, you have very few choices. One is Tiscali TV, formerly known as Homechoice, a broadband and on-demand TV service. Another is BT Vision, a combination of IPTV and Freeview in one box. The clever bit about BT Vision is that it doesn't waste bandwidth by sending regular TV channels over the Internet, thus blocking the tubes -- it picks normal TV up via Freeview, but has a built-in hard drive, which means you can still pause live TV and skip the adverts if you so desire.

We pointed out to the assorted muckety-mucks that TV is beamed through the air without any sort of copy protection, and somehow television companies are still making a profit and the world continues to rotate on its axis. Sadly, they asserted that DRM is necessary. There is so much paranoia around the Internet that the stuff has become ubiquitous. Let's just hope more people start to see it like EMI and Apple in the future. We're not going to hold our breath, though. -Ian Morris