Aliant assures broadcasters its not iCraveTV

Saint John, N.B. - Aliant Telecom yesterday announced a breakthrough with the roll-out of technology which enables the secure delivery of high-quality television to personal computers.

High speed Internet customers in New Brunswick will be offered the service before Christmas for an additional $10 a month with customers in Aliant's other Eastern provinces seeing the service in the first quarter of next year. The company has about 125,000 high speed Internet customers.

The reason this version of TV to the PC is so different is the company, thanks to Nortel Network's Shasta switch technology, can promise signal security and deliver a full screen picture if desired without the blocky stops and starts that web video is known for. Subscribers will also be able to surf the Internet while watching television.

"(Nortel's switch) provides for authentication of users and locks in a bandwidth so there is a guaranteed quality of signal," Chris Keevill, president, Aliant Telecom Broadband Services, told "From outside of this Intranet, you can't get in and access this signal."

The fact that broadcasters have signed on indicate they are happy with the level of signal quality and signal protection. The initial offering will feature a variety of channels. Bell Globemedia networks TSN, ATV, and CTV Newsnet will be included in the line-up as well as CBC; CBS; MuchMusic; CBC Newsworld; ABC; NBC; and SRC, with plans to expand this offering in the future.

"The broadcasters are not afraid of this," added Keevill. "They like it because of (the security and signal quality) . . . you can not get a signal if you're not an Aliant high speed Internet customer."

Using the benefits of new MPEG-4 video technology, Aliant will deliver high-quality television to the computer using 500 Kbps of network bandwidth, which is well within the capacity of the company's network. As well, the service requires no additional tuner cards or expensive software and plays on an average Pentium II computer running Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher as a web browser, with 64 Mbytes of RAM.

"This technology is not intended to replace the television. It is an enhancement of the consumer's broadband experience giving them more from their existing Aliant high-speed Internet connection," added Keevill. "The service being developed is a very intuitive web-based application allowing customers to access television, change channels and adjust volume."

The service was born in Aliant's known and respected Living Lab, which dates back to its Bruncor Inc. days, that is consistently developing new technologies for deployment over telco networks.

"This is classic Living Lab material," said Keevill. "This is a deployment, not a test."

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