Europeans tune in to net TV

But 100mbps pipes are needed for full potential

Close to half of all Europeans watch TV over the internet, and 57 per cent want to access the net, according to research released today by Motorola.

Broadband users in France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the UK were asked whether they watch recorded TV broadcasts or view previews and clips over the web.

The survey also asked whether broadband subscribers expected to use other services, such as video calling, from their TVs. As many as 45 per cent of Europeans expect to do so by 2012.

The survey did not, however, distinguish between computer users accessing TV content over broadband from their PCs, and those who used a commercial internet TV service and set-top box to view video on demand.

"The data shows that there is a significant appetite from consumers for video, whether it is on a PC or through a set-top box," said Karl Elliott, European marketing director for Motorola's Connected Home Solutions division.

"Consumers want to take control of what they watch and when, and are embracing [the technology] now."

Motorola sees IP-enabled set top boxes, often in combination with a Freeview-style digital terrestrial TV tuner, as a key driver for video on demand and PC-TV integration.

Such boxes would allow viewers to flip between TV channels, on demand content, the internet and IP-based services such as video calling or VoIP.

Elliot also expects consumers to use their set-top boxes to connect to portable media players or mobile phones for viewing on the go. Currently, 80 per cent of Motorola's IPTV set top box sales are in Europe.

However, such developments are going to demand significant increases in bandwidth, both for internet access and for device to device networking in the home. Motorola is already working on incorporating the 802.11n Wi-Fi standard into its hardware, according to Elliott.

But triple play (voice, video and internet) services with support for high-definition TV needs an internet pipe of at least 50Mbps to the home, with telecoms operators likely to roll out 100Mbps networks over the next few years.

The growth in high-bandwidth content will have other consequences, however. Internet service providers are likely to have to upgrade their back haul networks, caching servers and other technologies to support higher speeds. And businesses will need to adapt to an environment where content, from business information to training, is increasingly delivered online at high quality.

"A lot of people said that the internet would simply be a distraction at work," said Elliott.

"It does need to be managed, but businesses should be prepared to make the investment in order to gain a competitive advantage. If staff have 100Mbps links into their homes, they won't understand why they don't have it in the workplace."

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