BT's currently trialling a complete revamp of its Vision TV service, moulding it into the next evolution of television, IPTV. While the likes of you or I won't get our hands on it for a while, an anonymous tipster was kind enough to clue us in on what it's like. Will IPTV really revolutionise TV in the UK?
Apparently BT's just using the original BT Vision hardware with upgraded software. On that front, the interface is a lot better than the previous Vision experience, but it's not exactly slick. Both YouView and Sky have it licked, but what did you expect for ageing hardware? We don't know, yet, whether BT will roll out new set-top boxes to go with it, or whether it'll just push out software updates. There's a good chance that BT will provide its IPTV channels to YouView users rocking BT broadband too, which would be big boost for Sir Sugar's platform.
The good news here, for anyone looking to cut that aerial or satellite cable, is that the IPTV channels look good. There's a fair selection being pumped down broadband lines in the trial, including the likes of BBC One HD, BBC HD, ITV HD and Channel 4 HD -- none of which can really be distinguished from regular Freeview HD broadcasts, apart from the little 'bTV' logo. In fact, our anonymous TV-watcher actually reckons the IPTV channels look a tad better than their HD terrestrial broadcast counterparts, which is impressive when you consider the bandwidth requirements.
Other channels on display during the trial include things like Watch, Alibi, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild, FX, Sky Sports 1 and 2, ESPN, British Eurosport, Discovery, Syfy, Comedy Central, and many more. Basically, a whole raft of channels you'd normally associated with the likes of Sky or Virgin.
I think its safe to say that our anonymous IPTV trialist has been impressed by what they've seen. IPTV has long been heralded as the future of TV in the UK, and if this trial is anything to go by, it looks like we're nearly there.
It'll be interesting to see the evolution of IPTV in the UK, especially where YouView's concerned. More TV channels, pumped over broadband from everyone and their Mum's was one of YouView's original selling points. If we really can get solid HD broadcast TV down our broadband pipes, then I'm definitely up and ditching that sodding aerial. Hell, everything else I watch is streamed over IP from the likes of Netflix, LoveFilm and Now TV, so what's the difference, really?
Thanks to our anonymous BT Vision IPTV trialist. If you have any questions about the service, leave them below and we'll see what we can do for you.