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The BBC's crown jewel, its Kingswood Warren research lab, is broadcasting the Olympics by multicast and inviting ISPs to take part. Multicasting, or one to many broadcasting, alleviates the problem of bandwidth-clogging overload which makes popular streams so expensive to host.

It isn't new - the BBC first experimented with the mbone multicast backbone exactly ten years ago this week - but the new trial could herald some more valuable practical experience. It uses "SSM" or source specific multicast, which takes advantage of features in the routers.

(Again, this violates one of the techno-utopians' great ideological no-nos, which is putting any intelligence in the network. But if the fabulous InterWeb is to survive, we're going to see more of this rather than less).

Streams will go out at an impressive 370 kbits/s.

Previously, multicast experiments from 1999 to 2001, notes lead boffin Brandon Butterworth, have proved the technical feasibility- but no business need. With the greater availability of broadband, that's all changed. As in keeping with recent R&D projects, this one is platform-neutral and open access. You'll need Real Player 10, and sorry, but you won't be able to use the streams if you're outside the United Kingdom. Hop along to here to sample it. ®

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