The main objective of DIAMOND is to explore the technical feasibility of providing Video-on-Demand (VoD) services to the domestic market, utilising as far as possible existing CATV and telecommunications network infrastructures, thus demonstrating the economic viability of establishing commercial services of this type within the short to medium term.
The technical feasibility of providing video on demand (VoD) services to the domestic market has been explored, utilising as far as possible existing community antenna television (CATV) and telecommunications network infrastructures. A detailed model of how a VoD service may operate was developed and a service architecture to support this model. A prototype VoD server was produced capable of supporting (at this stage) 250 simultaneous users with full video cassette recorder (VCR) type functionality (eg pause, rewind, fast forward, etc) at a price per user for a full production system which would allow for the competitive pricing of the service while at the same time ensuring a reasonable pay back period for investors. The communications hardware for adapting the Philips computer disc interactive (CD-i) player has been developed, and an initial user interface for VoD designed.
Work covers five main areas of technical development:
- A prototype VoD server capable of supporting (at this stage) 250 simultaneous users with full VCR type functionality (e.g. pause, rewind, fast-forward, etc.) at a price per user for a full production system which would allow for the competitive pricing of the service while at the same time ensuring a reasonable pay-back period for investors.
- A prototype low cost domestic terminal based on the Philips CD-i system.
- An Application Management Server, which allows the user easy access services of different types from different service providers, while providing the latter with the means of advertising and promoting the programmes they have on offer.
- The installation and configuration of ADSL technology on a public switched network as the basis of the full VoD field trial.
- The adaptation of a CATV network to provide a second field trial of near-VoD but using the same fundamental systems components (VoD server, CD-i based terminals, Application Management Server).
The public switched network trial also provides ATM connections to a remote VoD warehouse in order to demonstrate a distributed (store and forward) service architecture.
For the project to fully prepare the way for the development of commercial VoD services, it has been crucial to understand (i) how VoD is to fit into an already crowded market (with broadcast, satellite and cable TV, video rental and the emergence of CD-I for stand-alone applications) and (ii) the effect regulatory constraints may have upon service development. These two considerations play a key role in determining how the services will operate, who the service providers will be and the precise nature of the service offered which, in turn, will have an effect upon the overall architecture and design of the system, particularly the Application Management System.
DIAMOND will play a significant role in the development of broadband services for the domestic market and hence for the spread of broadband services in general. It will not only progress the development of the technology for VoD, producing one of the first complete prototype systems for end to end delivery and service management but, with its distinct market orientation, will help to define and promote the commercial and regulatory conditions required for successful market development.
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RH1 5HA Redhill