YouView, the major IPTV platform being developed by a consortium that includes the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, and BT, has released a mandate of technical specifications that set-top box manufacturers must conform to.
The mandate itself is relatively simple and straightforward: linux receiver, with at least one HDMI port, two USB slots, as well as Wi-fi and ethernet support.
720p HD minimum output and support for MPEG 2 and MPEG 4 to cover standard and HD transmissions are also required, along with at least 30 GB disk space and 500MB RAM.
A number of traditional set-top box manufacturers are naturally lining up to supply what is intended to be the UK’s major IPTV service platform.
Technomate, Pace, and Manhatten, have already expressed an interest in supplying the market, and the specifications are already relatively common in the satellite receiver market they are already within.
YouView is already late - originally called Project Canvas, it has suffered complaints from Sky that public money via the BBC was being used to fund a rival broadcast service.
Additionally, technical problems in ensuring compatability amongst existing suppliers, who already have various existing services, not last the BBC iPlayer, ITV player, BT’s own IPTV programming, have helped add to delays.
An existing copyright challenge on the name by Google-owned YouTube may yet complicate matters further.
However, YouView is now pushing hard to ensure a release date early in 2012, when the service is expected to be rolled out nationwide.
The hope is that not only will it allow for easier broadcast access across the country, but also that it will help encourage further HD broadcasting, which at present in the UK is pretty dire outside of Sky’s proprietary channels and limited to less than a handful of services.
While there remains plenty of time before launch, the fact that standards are being released and manufacturers can begin preparations, means that one way or another, YouView is go.
Just when it gets here, and what it can provide, however, remains to be seen.