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Testing Pay-per-View in Europe

Objective

In the broadcasting/entertainment area, this application pilot characterises IBC service components and assesses the viability of pay-per-view television in Europe. In order to facilitate the putting together of PPV services for a wide variety of service providers, the project examined man-machine interfaces, traffic and market growth models, and the specification of a generalised cable TV billing demonstrator (based on work carried out in Antwerp).
In the broadcasting entertainment area, this application pilot characterises integrated broadband communications (IBC) service components and assesses the viability of pay per view (PPV) television in Europe. In order to facilitate the putting together of PPV services for a wide variety of service providers, the project examined man machine interfaces, traffic and market growth models, and the specification of a generalised cable television (TV) billing demonstrator.

To help correlate what was learned from the pilots, transition scenarios from cable and telephone networks towards IBC were modelled. Expansion of cable based pay services, the use passive optical network (PON) techniques for IBC introduction, and a likely PPV traffic model based on proactive marketing policies by cable operators were analysed. Market growth contrasted two approaches to PPV: evolution through service upgrades versus up front (operator borne) investment.

PPV service operation demonstrated successful use of low cost cable head end hardware suited to narrowcast services, (including for example, unrecordable video).
Technical Approach

Pay-per-view experiments (PPV) involved Dutch, French and German test sites, corresponding to different markets and different technologies. The Limburg cable pilot ran in 1990; the Biarritz/Rennes tests had to be abandoned due to delays caused by regulatory difficulties (however, outside RACE 1070, French tests utilising pay-per-view experience are contemplated); the Berlin pilot ran in the second half of 1991.

The Berlin PPV pilot was the first actual test of the D2MAC/EUROCRYPT standard: residential service was offered to 160 paying subscribers, and this market trial offered an opportunity for fine-tuning of the D2MAC standard.

Test market data was collected from both the Berlin and Limburg experiments, with pre-test data from the French sites included. To help correlate what was learned from the pilots, transition scenarios from cable and telephone networks towards IBC were modelled. Expansion of cable-based pay services, the use of PON techniques for IBC introduction, and a likely PPV traffic model based on pro-active marketing policies by cable operators were analysed. Market-growth contrasted two approaches to PPV: evolution through service upgrades versus up-front (operator borne) investment.

Key Issues
. Characterisation of PPV service.
. Standardisation of hardware support for PPV.
. Strategy for the transition to IBC with the inclusion of proven cable functionalities into IBC design.

Achievements
PPV service operation demonstrated successful use of low-cost cable head-end hardware suited to narrowcast services, (including for example, unrecordable video). Validation of the PPV network was made possible through international cooperation between the Dutch partners responsible for the cinema content, France Telecom and DBP Telekom on the PNO side, and Belgian partners responsible for the design of the multi-purpose billing system.

Expected Impact
An impact on residential IBC services in the entertainment/education/information area is expected. In the initial IBC pump-priming stage, there is a case for the network operator providing PPV related services in a standardised manner so as to be assembled easily by a wide number of service providers. This open network approach would represent a major departure from established practices in the main European markets.

The project points to further development of advanced PPV services supported by tree-and-branch cable and satellite architectures in the evolution to IBC. The IBC may face additional design constraints from the introductions of various forms of TV entertainment, particularly the requirement to transport a comparatively large number of channels over the local loop.

Coordinator

ANITRA MEDIENPROJEKTE GMBH
Address
Stuntzstrasse 33
81677 Muenchen
Germany

Participants (3)

INTERCAI
Netherlands
Regiokabel Limburg
Netherlands
SOFRECOM
France
Address
24 Avenue Du Petit Parc
94307 Vincennes