Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Monday, 21 July 2008 12:28 UK

Net TV technology seeks testers

Ethernet cable, Eyewire
StreamPlayer shares data among viewers to serve large audiences

Testers are being sought for technology that may help TV migrate to the net.

The P2P Next project has created a trial, or beta, version of software that can stream video across a file-sharing network.

The EU has put 19m euros into the project hoping the software the team creates will become a Europe-wide standard for broadcasters.

The P2P Next team are looking for thousands to sign up to give the technology a good workout.

Stream and serve

Many broadcasters, such as the BBC with its iPlayer, are already using the net to let viewers catch up with programmes they missed. Most of these systems use a central server to stream programmes to those that want to watch them.

However, most believe that TV via the net delivered this way will be unsustainable when huge audiences venture online for shows.

In a bid to create a system that can support huge audiences, the SwarmPlayer draws on the widely used BitTorrent peer-to-peer technology.

In such a system those watching a video share the data they are downloading with others, peers, who want to watch the same show.

The SwarmPlayer lets people download TV shows to watch later, lets them watch video as it is being downloaded and can even cope with live broadcasts.

The P2P Next project now wants thousands of people to install the software to see how it handles large audiences and whether picture quality suffers as the numbers of users rises.

Windows and Linux versions of the software are available with a Mac version due soon.

Those wanting to take part must have a broadband net connection speed of at least 600kbps or higher. Those downloading and installing the software will be able to see how it handles a live stream and a pre-recorded broadcast.

The P2P Next project is scheduled to run for four years and the SwarmPlayer is likely to be the first of many prototypes it produces.

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