It's the worst-kept secret in the history of mankind, but freesat is finally getting access to the BBC's iPlayer service. We've known for a very long time that the plan was to make on-demand TV available on freesat since the platform launched in May 2008. For this reason, all freesat receivers have had an Ethernet socket fitted to them from launch, which means existing owners will have no extra equipment to buy.
iPlayer will come to the platform from the end of November with a closed beta. It will be 'code-based', which means you'll have to apply for and be granted a beta key before you can use the service. There's no indication of how long the beta will last yet, or the number of people who'll be admitted. We can only hope the restrictions aren't too stringent, as we've got a hankering to use this service as soon as possible.
Connecting a set-top box to the Internet is no mean feat though. Most people don't have CAT5 cable knocking around their entire home, and it's very unlikely that your home-entertainment system is connected to the Internet. That said, there are options such as power-line networking and wireless bridges that can help people with no wired option.
The BBC's blog on the subject also makes it quite clear that Freeview HD boxes will support the standards needed for iPlayer to work too. That's likely to mean that when Freeview HD hardware hits the market, it will have an Ethernet socket, which in time will bring iPlayer to Freeview too. Now that's something we really can't wait for -- indeed, this could be the start of something very special for Freeview, which needs extra bandwidth quite urgently.
There will be a new advertising campaign for freesat starting on 7 November, concentrating on how much HD there is available. The ads will air on ITV 1 and will feature British TV fans who'll no doubt be excited by free HD without hopping into bed with Rupert Murdoch.