Feeds

Open IPTV joins HbbTV in connected telly love-in

A spec-test shared is a spec-test halved

The essential guide to IT transformation

The Open IPTV Forum and the HbbTV Consortium will be sharing the connected television device-testing burden, with a view towards reducing the cost and increasing the speed of getting both standards integrated as widely as possible.

The two groups have worked together before: the Open IPTV Forum (OIPF) specifies support for HbbTV (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV) in its standard, but this extended collaboration will see testing of HbbTV dropped into the next version of the OIPF Test Suite, due early next year, and scripts for the more-expansive Open TV features added to HbbTV's own testing tools later in 2013, bringing the standards much closer together.

Both groups are interested in getting us doing more with our televisions, but while the HbbTV Forum provides APIs for internet-delivered apps and content, the Open IPTV Forum is concerned with the broader picture. The combined testing tools will include the OIPF-derived Declarative Application Framework, as well as media formats – which can prove so difficult to standardise.

The two groups' joint efforts are aimed at turning television into an on-demand platform capable of hosting applications – even if most of them are geared towards providing video content. Today's internet video providers – like NetFlix or LoveFilm and the BBC – have to provide client software for a range of devices, which makes the mobile app business look settled and the desktop one positively simplistic. LoveFilm, for example, runs on Sony Blu-Ray players, but NetFlix will run on a Nintendo Wii, neither of which is suited to quick app development, not to mention the MHEG video-streaming spec.

MHEG is specified by the Freeview HD standard, and the BBC has a version of its iPlayer which works well enough, though its unlikely to last long as more-flexible (and web-based) alternatives emerged. In the UK the only one pushing MHEG, technically and commercially, is Connect TV, which is providing various IP streams from within the Freeview EPG and just got bought by Arquia.

Connect TV isn't using MHEG to deliver true video on demand, not yet, but the BBC has worked with the Arts Council to create just such a channel: The Space. The new MHEG channel may be populated with Shakespeare in Urdu and similar, but it proves that true video on demand can be delivered to existing Freeview HD boxes. And Arqiva plans to use its ownership of Connect TV to create more such channels – primarily as a way of learning what the TV of the future will be like without having to wait for YouView to get its collective act together.

Arqiva has an effective monopoly on TV broadcasting in the UK; it makes no content and owns no channels, but it is the company which broadcasts everyone else's stuff and thus has the most to lose if broadcast transmission is replaced with narrowly cast IP. Bringing the Open IPTV Forum and the HbbTV Consortium closer together will only hasten that day, though hopefully we'll get the mobile-platform war done and dusted before we embark on a battle for TV app dominance. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Broadband slow and expensive? Blame Telstra says CloudFlare
Won't peer, will gouge for Internet transit
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?