Atzio’s Peer-to-Peer Television

Atzio, a content delivery software company, have developed a form of peer-to-peer distribution for television networks. They predict that P2P will revolutionise the legitimate delivery of TV and video content via the web, whilst broadcasters like the BBC are looking at using the peer to peer technologies to make content distribution cheaper.

Atzio have combined time-shifted media with a “data swarming” mechanism to lower distribution costs – as in the P2P model, a piece of media is divided into small blocks and downloaded from multiple hosts using bandwidth from each machine’s internet connection. Using this technology, a broadcaster does not have to buy huge amounts of bandwidth as its audience effectively becomes the distribution method. A welcome side effect of this model is that, the higher the demand is for a piece of content, the easier it is to get as it will be stored in more places.

The BBC have looked at P2P, amongst other options, for the distribution of their Creative Archive and other content. P2P systems like this are ideal for distributing large files to many users, such as entire films, TV programmes or games – and can be extremely cheap as customers do the distribution for the content publisher.

Atzio’s Peer to Peer Television uses a custom client to secure content against unauthorised copying and distribution, with an integrated playback interface. The network is closed and controlled by the content provider, so unauthorised or infringing materials cannot be distributed and quality of product is assured. Users can browse a content provider’s catalogue for titles and then download them immediately (like video on demand), to a schedule (like a PVR), or add them to their wishlist for viewing much later. A system of this type could replace a DVD-by-post business model quite easily.

The network is compatible with the major DRM systems out there, including Windows, DivX and Real Networks.

How Peer to Peer Television works

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?