ISP-TV Video Network

ISP-TV Main Contact (isptv@access.digex.net)
Wed, 18 Oct 1995 17:52:48 -0400


ISP-TV

The Internet Service Provider Video Network

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[HTMLified Version at http://www.digex.net/isptv]

What is ISP-TV?

ISP-TV is a network of linked video reflectors bringing interesting video
programming to a large audience of internet users. It's reflectors will be
hosted primarily by Internet Service Providers as a benefit to internet
users, to stimulate ISDN and other higher-bandwidth services, and to open up
the potential for profitable video over the internet.

How can an ISP Join ISP-TV?

To become a member of ISP-TV, all an ISP has to do is put up a public
CU-SeeMe reflector connected to the ISP-TV network. We also request (but do
not currently require) that members contribute at least one hour of video
content per month. It is that simple!

Send email to isptv@digex.net for more information.

Why Target ISPs?

Internet Service Providers will be the backbone of ISP-TV because:

* they have high-bandwidth connections
* they have a user base which may be interested in viewing ISP-TV
* they have a vested interest in attracting new uses of the net, new
users of the net, and new network content providers

If you are not an ISP, but you do have the required connectivity and can run
a CU-SeeMe reflector, you are also welcome to join the ISP-TV network!

Why a Video Network?

A single video reflector can only send video to a limited number of viewers,
perhaps 10-30 depending on bandwidth and processor speed. A network of
linked reflectors could potentially have thousands of viewers.

There are already some live events (such as concerts and NASA Select TV)
which are cybercast on video reflectors. Instead of pray-and-spray
advertising to different mailing lists and newsgroups, ISP-TV will be a
great way for the internet video viewing public to find live event
programming.

Where Will Programming Come From?

As mentioned above, we request that every ISP-TV network member provide at
least one hour of video programming a month, either live or video taped.
ISP-TV will also reach out to public television stations, amateur video
productions, high school and college video contests, and other video
sources. We expect that publicity agencies that use the internet will seek
ISP-TV as a way to get maximum viewership of various live events. It is
hoped that ISP-TV will serve as a catalyst to get more video content
providers on the net, adding value to ISP service.

At first, ISP-TV will depend mostly on freely-provided or even purchased
video. When companies become willing to pay for cybercasting video over
ISP-TV, the network may move to a more commercial programming model.

Why Now?

ISDN and 56K frame relay services are now becoming affordable for more and
more internet users. ISP-TV will showcase how video can be used over the
internet, and it may help create demand for more ISDN-speed services.

At the same time software video coders may shortly be supporting color and
reducing bandwidth requirements. It is possible that even 28.8K users will
become capable of viewing video with a reasonable quality-of-service. For
ISP-TV to be mature when these technological developments occur, we need to
start building the ISP-TV network now.

What Technology will ISP-TV Use?

The base technology of ISP-TV will be the CU-SeeMe desktop videoconferencing
system that was developed at Cornell University, and is now being developed
jointly by White Pine Software and Cornell. Free versions of the software
are currently available for Macintosh and Windows systems, and future
commercially enhanced versions will be available for sale from White Pine.

CU-SeeMe video is currently made up of 320x240 or 160x120 4-bit grayscale
pixels. High-bandwidth users can expect 5-10 frames per second. It is
expected that there will be significant technological improvement to
CU-SeeMe in the future.

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What About the Future?

No one knows exactly what the future for mass-audience internet video is.
ISP-TV is an experiment to see what we can do, to get people excited about
internet video, to explore the technology, and to feel out commercialization
possibilities. It is also cheap for ISPs to participate. We hope many if not
most ISPs will recognize the value of ISP-TV and join the network.

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Is This the Only Internet Video Available?

Of course not! ISP-TV is mass-audience, real-time video. It will not take
the place of personal videoconferencing, nor will it replace streaming
video-on-demand. However, there is something about the shared experience of
real-time video with a large audience that excites people, and ISP-TV will
deliver that excitement.

What About Multicast IP?

The multicast backbone currently lacks support for viewing by many personal
computers. It also has very limited bandwidth, and is more appropriate for
professional conferences and academic uses. We don't want to "pollute" the
multicast backbone with inappropriate programming.

ISP-TV will stay aware of multicast IP technology, and it may eventually be
a useful way of delivering video programming from a cybercast studio to
video reflectors. The success of ISP-TV may help multicast technologies
become commercially viable.