The following guest post is by Sarah Routledge who writes for Australian broadband comparison site Compare Broadband, which offers independent advice on choosing the best internet plan.
On-demand TV over the internet is finally taking off in Australia in a big way, with FetchTV, Telstra’s T-Box and Foxtel on Xbox the main options.
While US on-demand services like Hulu are still a long way off in Australia due to rights issues, Australian consumers still have access to a range of great services over their ADSL broadband connection.
iiNet and now Internode have made deals with FetchTV, an on-demand IPTV service that offers extra TV channels and movies over an ADSL2+ or fast ADSL connection. Optus plans to launch a similar service soon on smartphones and tablets.
Through a set-top box, customers can rent the latest movies, such as The Social Network and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The box can also be used to pause, rewind and record TV shows, with a terabyte of recording space available.
iiNet‘s full FetchTV service costs $19.95 a month when the set-top box is bought outright for $399, and $29.95 a month on a 24-month contract if rented. Customers must also have a BoB or BoB Lite modem.
iiNet is offering a free BoB Lite modem for a limited time to new customers who are bundling their broadband and FetchTV package together. Internode offers the same deal as iiNet but Internode allows customers to use their own modem, provided it’s IPTV compatible.
Crucially, both iiNet and Internode offer these services unmetered. This means customers can select a relatively low data plan and still watch TV and movies to their heart’s content.
Foxtel on Xbox
Billed as a more convenient and contract-free alternative to cable, Foxtel’s offer of premium TV channels on the Xbox has generated a lot of interest.
In order to access the service, users need a Foxtel on Xbox 360 online profile, an internet connection of a minimum 1,500kbps, an Xbox 360 console, a subscription to Xbox LIVE for FOXTEL On Demand access or a subscription to Xbox LIVE Gold for channel packages.
Prices start from less than $20 per month and additional packages from $10. Alternatively, customers can rent individual movies without paying a monthly subscription.
Provided you already have an Xbox and an Xbox LIVE Gold subscription, this is an easy way of accessing extra channels and on-demand content and will work with any Internet Service Provider (ISP).
The downside here is all the content counts toward your download limit, so you will realistically need a Terabyte or unlimited ADSL2+ plan to get the most out of your subscription. Foxtel also cannot broadcast NRL and AFL games over the internet, under the current rights agreement.
Telstra currently offers seven Bigpond channels on its set-top T-Box, including AFL and NRL match replays, as well as the free-to-air channels. Foxtel has also struck a deal with Telstra, which means T-Box customers will soon be able to watch Foxtel channels over the internet.
All the free-to-air channels are available to pause, record and rewind, plus a library of movies are available to rent on demand. The T-Box costs $299 to buy outright and there is no monthly subscription fee, as with FetchTV. However, you will need a Bigpond broadband plan, from $49.95 a month. Downloads are unmetered, so the service won’t eat into your broadband quota.
Internet TV in Australia
At the moment, a broadband plan and a set-top box is the best way to enjoy TV and movies on demand. However, Smart TVs with internet connectivity are the latest gimmick from manufacturers, so IPTV will soon be available to more households as people upgrade their technology. It’s likely that more ISPs will offer their own versions of IPTV as the market grows.