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back to article Microsoft 'Xbox TV' rumours: Over the Cable Guy's dead body

Xbox TV? We've heard it all before, and this time the rumour has replaced the word Apple with the name Microsoft, but it's essentially the same: saying that it will come to market as a virtual cable operator, delivering TV channels over the internet in return for a monthly fee. Let's just examine that for a moment. Apple, with …

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Anonymous Coward

umm

Well the number of XBoxes sold might be a fraction of the number of Apple devices but how many of those Apple devices are connected to TVs?

Plus XBox already has the whole on demand TV thing through Sky.

Personally I think it'll fail because this kind of thing always does. But they are clearly in a much better position to do it than Apple ever were.

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Bronze badge
Pint

Duh...

Content providers ("channels") simply spin-off a variant for IPTV purposes. Make the name and "call sign" sufficiently different from their other feeds that there's no easy-to-point-to firm connection. And then put all the same TV shows on the new feed.

Call back if you need any more help... ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

The future of ISP networks

"It's in the consumer's interest to get TV for what it's worth and not pay for the support of a physical network, like that of a cable operator network or telco network, built into the price."

At present, consumer telcos charge relatively low prices (compared to leased lines that are not oversubscribed) - assuming Internet content and delivery is seperated, will it lead to even lower prices/faster services for the majority of Internet users. I know of some cities that have invested in infrastructure to improve consumer Internet access, but these require significant investments and I don't see them as a sustainable model if the content providers continue to eat more of the revenue pie.

I can see why Apple/MS/others want in on the content game as it adds a new revenue stream - what I don't see is how the networks providers will maintain profit/investment while content providers also make a profit and the customer doesn't end up paying more.

Unless there's a lot more profit in providing £15/US$20 per month Internet connections than I realise.

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FAIL

Wait, what...?

"It's in the consumer's interest to get TV for what it's worth and not pay for the support of a physical network..."

Every other product or service, I mean EVERY one, that you buy has the logistical cost of its delivery factored into the price. One way or another you WILL pay for the infrastructure to deliver that content; the assumption behind this article seems to be that you can make infrastructure costs vanish by moving to the Internet because that's TEH FREEZORS! as opposed to that nasty expensive cable stuff. If IP becomes the carrier for all our TV watching, then there will be metric fucktonnes of infrastructure upgrades required, which will cost a fair bit and the customer'll end up paying for that. The bottom line is that what a product or service is worth has to include the cost of its delivery, and pretending otherwise doesn't do anyone any favours.

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Stop

I think you have the assumption wrong

The assumption of the article is that the price you pay is much higher than the infra structure price, that you're also paying a premium because cable TV and satellite TV are monopolies or oligopolies (depending on where you live).

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Silver badge

The other problem?

Internet can't actually deliver TV. Not at Broadcast reliability and quality.

Only fibre/cable operators can actually deliver IPTV or VOD that actually works, at reasonable quality, from servers on their own network.

And it's much much more expensive than Broadcast TV. VOD/IPTV is about 20x to x 100 more expensive (if server on ISP's network) than Broadcast to 10,000x more expensive overall if it was on the "Internet".

Also very few people have bandwidth to watch more than one channel and do anything else on BB, even fewer have the performance for HD.

Or the Caps.

IPTV/VOD is not really happening till the majority have cable/Fibre and even then it will be the ISP that delivers. MS, Google and Apple would only be "me too" appliance shifters. Samsung, Sony, Philips, Motorola, Cisco, Panasonic, LG, Toshiba, Sanyo, Sagem, Humax, Vestel etc are ALL well able to deliver TVs and boxes that work perfect on Broadcast and IP without any Apple/MS/Google help.

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Happy

Someone hasn't tried NetFlix -- on a reliable network anyway.

"Internet can't actually deliver TV. Not at Broadcast reliability and quality."

See title. I regularly watch movies and TV via Netflix on a Roku -- over a wireless connection on cable internet. The quality and reliability is consistently better than the cable co's own HD channels -- because the cable company is sending every channel down a fat pipe, it has to compress most of them. Netflix sending one signal down a slightly thinner pipe needs much less compression.

If my cable company hadn't significantly oversubscribed its own network, they could give everyone a Roku-like device, dedicate an IP stream to every customer, and provide much better quality and reliablility. Heck, if they just went as far as intelligent multicast, they could even handle the oversubscription most days.

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Flame

I believe he's meaning in aggregate broadcast

With broadcast there is no bandwidth increase based on the number of customers. i.e. 1,000 customers have the same bandwidth requirement a 100,000 to watch a single show at the same time (US HDTV spec has a peak of ~19mb/sec which you never get but that's the spec), ignoring requirements for repeaters, etc you have a constant peak requirement of 19mb/sec. With Netflix, etc (anything that isn't using multicast to send the data) everybody gets their own point in time, you aren't tapping into a constant feed. Minimum bandwidth for a HD Netflix show is around 6mb (it can go higher, lower generally is SD).

So 1000 users watching the same HD show simultaneously

Broadcast = 19mb/sec peak

Netflix = 6,000mb/sec minimum

To put it another way: Comcast has 16.3 million cable customers, if 50% of them are watching something at the same time. It would require 48,900,000 mb/sec or ~46.6 terabit of bandwidth.

Assuming the same 50% of the Comcast customers are watching something, and lets say they are even spread across 200 different shows simultaneously at the peak load of 19.6mb per show that would require at max 798,700mb or ~0.76 terabit of bandwidth.

789700mb / 48900000mb == 1.633% == the percentage 19mb broadcast bandwidth stream requires compared to a 6mb non-broadcast stream for the same number of customers.

I'd say that the current method of "on demand" HD streaming isn't sustainable right now for everybody (maybe in a few years that will change but it won't be cheap), but if there is a switch to multicast or equivalent it could be.

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Internet is the protocols, not the speed or media

Fiber, cable and satellite are used to transmit internet signals, to connect devices to the internet, and to connect parts of the internet together.

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Boffin

Are you doing 1080p?

Netflix, I believe, doesn't do 1080p. Some cable channels actually do 1080i or 1080p; that's simply not possible with average broadband.

Also, under current schemes, the ISPs network will go down when 100+ users in the same area start streaming, even if they're watching the same frickin' show. This should be easy to solve with multicast, but that just isn't the case these days.

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Unhappy

Nice

Love all these great ideas, then you come to the reality of broadband in Western Europe and realise that the average consumer so much as uses a single bit over what the ISP "allows" and half a forest is issued warning you to pack it in!

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Gates Halo

"facilities placed into the PC operating system."

You mean like MS's "trusted computing platform" and its derivatives?

"Trust" here doesn't mean that the end user can trust the OS to be secure and stable, it means the content providers are persuaded they can trust MS, that their valuable content has a delivery platform which supports their desired end to end copy protection mechanisms. TCP = DRM+.

Apple's world is built on UNIX technology and you can't retrofit content-provider-compatible DRM without rewriting the kernel and other bits.

So maybe there might be something in this. Or maybe not.

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Silver badge

Umm...

...why would I pay MS for what I can do right now for free?

And why would I pay them when most of the services are region-locked in one way or another? I'd just chuck a few notes at a VPN service and be done with it.

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because you can't do it for free now

because you can't do it for free now

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Silver badge

'course I can

If I want to watch NBC, ABC, PBS etc shows is easy enough. Watching HBO live is simple too. These services are even starting to push HD out. Oh, and I can do all this on an old xBox (no HD, obviosuly).

So I ask again - why would I pay MS for what I can do right now? And if I want HD, I can just use a different front-end (I'd need new kit anyway) and STILL have no need to pay MS anything. The content is already there to be consumed.

The only way MS would get a penny from me, is if they wrapped up all the broadcasters in some kind of exclusivity deal (can you say "monopoly abuse"?) and even if that did happen, the USA is not the only broadcaster in the world and there are many other services available.

I will even choke down the ads, these can just be injected into the stream at the relevant breaks (they could even be region specific).

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Stop

Australia already

Foxtel (a cable operator) offers a selection of its packages which is available by XBox 360. It is cheaper than cable directly and can be used with ADSL connections.

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Pint

I Get All The. TV...

...I want from over-the-air (about 20 channels) and a NETFLIX subscription.

Cost: Netflix Subscription = $16 monthly

TV antenna = $142,000 (it came with a house attached) one time charge.

Beer (which makes it possible to enjoy crap american TV) = $180 monthly.

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one less Set Top Box

if I could get rid of the crap Comcast box and consolidate into my Xbox I'd be a happy chap.

The sooner Comcast realises that unless they want to be just a dumb pipe they need to start treating customers less like assets.

I'm lucky in that I have competition (FiOS) in the street so every time there's a price hike we do the "well, I'll just switch then...." dance but I'm bored of it.

I'd prefer to have a dumb pipe relationship with my ISP, consolidate TV along with Netflix etc on my Xbox and be done with it.

Dandwidth issues - even for live events - can be resolved by clever network strategies (for instance p2p distribution... look at LiveStation for instance)

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Jobs Horns

What about iPlayer?

I mean if MS were serious at pushing the Xbox in this direction then why would they still be unable to negotiate a deal with the BBC to integrate the iPlayer?

From what I remember MS only wanted to include it as part of the subscription service. Why MS couldn't see that the advantage of offering the BBC service (and why not 4od or ITV) is increased sales of consoles I do not know.

The new "YouView" boxes being discussed would also start moving this way so MS better get a move on.

As someone who bought the Xbox 360 as it was the 'best value' media center extender this is welcome but I don't think MS have the right approach to make it happen. Oh, and I think I'd go insane if I had to listen to my '360 everytime I watched the TV - the fans are stupid noisy.

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Gates Horns

M$ can't have iPlayer

Microsoft only wants iPlayer for its paying gold membership subscribers, however by law the BBC can't agree to that, so until M$ agrees to give it the silver subscribers too you're going to be seeing iPlayer on the XBOX

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FAIL

What they are going to need to do

Is start finding artists., writers and the like. Start producing stuff that people want to see, Help them out with post production perhaps and the boxes will sell themselves.

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Microsoft is already experimenting with frontend and backend

Surely Microsoft Mediaroom as used on the BT Vision box could be the user interface, just ported to the XBox. Combine this with MSN Player in the UK as their playground for getting the backend intrastructure debugged (with a side benefit of proving to content providers that they can be trusted with their precious IP).

With just these two separate streams of developments it is clear that XBox TV channel could just be content deals away.

Now this is all predicated on Microsoft thinking ahead and not replicating development....which we all know that they would never ever do.

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Why

Apple's world is built on UNIX technology and you can't retrofit content-provider-compatible DRM without rewriting the kernel and other bits.

Explain to me why ? The reason why Apple does not do blu ray is because it does not want to pay fees .

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Headmaster

MS or Apple could lever in starting in Canada

In Canada the cable guy doesn't get much of a choice on what channels he carries. That is 95% determined by a government agency called the CRTC.

So MS or Apple could start off with their TV-over-internet here.

Then, once it was proven, once it became popular, use that momentum to move into the USA.

Trust me (excepting a human right to health care) anything else worthwhile Canada gets, the USA gets within a year.

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Anonymous Coward

Broadcast over a point-to-point media?

What is wrong with this picture.

We have LOTS of TV's here in the USA (and even more over the world). While there may be enough IP addresses for the lot, if you want to combine it with the computer population, it should easily exceed IPv4's address space. So, on to IPv6, and now there are lots of addressable things all over the world, waiting to be hacked up. The will ALL have boot-up delay and then the latency will vary all over the map. On to broadcasting nice live events (Football games [either type]) and you load up the delivery means with sooooo much duplicate data it is silly.

TV by its implementation is a BROADCAST media and doing THAT over a point to point media (the internet) is a TOTAL WASTE. It also ties up the infrastructure for those who desire a point to point media (so I can view pages from El Reg! at any time I desire, which are NOT resource HOGS!).

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Three-letters for you...

NAT.

Look it up. IP addresses are not an issue.

Regarding point-to-point how do you think 'on-demand' cable TV works? Just because it's being delivered to your cable STB doesn't mean it's not working in exactly the same way as PC streaming media. In the UK it's exactly the same cabling split your broadband...

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