IPTV: Watching TV over the internet

The internet is full of interesting video content – YouTube clips, catch-up TV, movies on demand. The problem has always been that you had to watch on your desktop or laptop.

This is set to change, with IPTV gaining popularity among Australian consumers.

What can I watch?


You may already be familiar with catch-up TV. ABC's iView, PLUS7, Ten and SBS will all allow you to view full episodes of recent shows, as well as watch teasers for new programs.

Whole channels can be broadcast over your internet connection. You could subscribe to new channels over the internet without having to set up a satellite or cable connection.

Movies or TV episodes can be downloaded on demand. Instead of paying for a cable connection or going to a DVD store, you can legally download your favourite movies and TV to watch whenever you want.

What do I need to watch it?

As IPTV is transmitted through the internet, you will need a broadband connection and a modem. A fast connection, stable connection is important and you will also need a plan with enough data.

ABC recommends a connection speed of at least 1.1Mbps to watch its iView service, while TPG can only offer its IPTV service on connections running at 3.5Mbps or greater. For most people, IPTV is best viewed on an ADSL2+ plan, or the fastest ADSL1 connection your line can manage.

Download quota is another important consideration. The amount of data you will use up watching IPTV will depend on the quality (how good it looks on your TV) of the file you have downloaded. A half-hour episode of a TV show from ABC's iView will take up around 125 MB, for example. However, an HD quality movie could be several GBs.

Some new TVs come with hardware already installed to let you watch IPTV, while older ones will require a set-top box, or an IPTV enabled modem. The type of hardware you will need depends on the IPTV service you want.

How much does it cost?

Costs vary depending on what you want to get out of IPTV. If you sign up to an ADSL2+ broadband plan with TPG, you can access several channels including French, Greek, Indian and Chinese programming, for free through a VoIP enabled modem. Currently, the TPG IPTV service can not be transmitted via a wireless connection - if you have a modem/router with wireless capabilities you must connect directly via the Ethernet port rather than a wireless connection. This limitation is being addressed in later versions of this service.

You can buy a VoIP enabled modem from TPG when you sign up to a plan. Not every exchange is enabled for the IPTV service and you would have to double check whether your address is eligible before you subscribe to a plan.

If you want to access more channels, movies on demand plus gaming and social networking through your TV, you could sign up to iiNet.

iiNet offers fetchtv2, a subscription IPTV service. You will need a set-top box to access fetchtv2, which costs $299 upfront or can be rented. The service costs $19.95 per month, or $29.95 if you decide to rent the box.

For this price, you get 30 movies a month delivered to your set-top box and 18 channels including MTV, National Geographic and FoxSportsNews, plus all the free-to-air channels. On top of this, you can also pay $3.95 to watch a new release movie on demand. You can also use your remote control to access Facebook or play games.

The set-top box can also pause, rewind and record a terabyte of TV shows.

Internode is also offering fetchtv on a trial basis for $29.95 a month but hopes to open up the service to everyone soon. While still in the early stages, the $99 set-up fee is waived, so early adopters are rewarded. The monthly cost includes rental of the set-top box.

While IPTV services from these providers are unmetered, be aware that you may have to use your data allowance if you go outside the free channels – for example, by using ABC's iVew or Youtube.

How can I get it?

You will need to sign up to an eligible broadband plan from one of these providers to access IPTV. Call us on 1300 106 571 or sign up online.