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Updated 8:30 AM April 16, 2007
 

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ITCom tests Internet TV service

If U-M employees and students want to watch live TV, they grab the remote control to turn on the television set. Now, it's possible to get live, uninterrupted programs from a computer.

Information Technology Communications Services (ITCom) is testing a new service, Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), which allows University broadband users to receive live, quick-start Internet television. ITCom is using software developed by Sugih Jamin, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and co-founder of Zattoo Inc. Zattoo was founded in May 2005. The name is Japanese for "crowd."

"Advances in broadband, video compression and multicast streaming technology are rapidly lowering the technical hurdles for Internet and television to merge on a PC," says Jamin.

ITCom is testing the service in Phase 3 until June 29; it is available now to all faculty, staff and students. Earlier phases included a group of IT staff members and University Housing residence halls.

As a part of the investigation, ITCom is working with campus representatives to see if users find educational benefits from IPTV and to construct an appropriate funding model. This information will help determine whether or not IPTV is made permanent.

Live television on computers appears to be the next phase in this age of up-to-date information available from the Internet. "We allow the current generation of students to re-harness live TV as an information source and re-establish the central role live TV plays in our information space," Jamin says.

Distribution of real time television content on a campus IP network is not new. ITCom and other campus units already deliver stored and real time video content to subscribers on a daily basis. Some units already use channels such as Bloomberg, Court TV, C-SPAN, and foreign language stations to augment teaching and learning. The IPTV channel line up has not been set.

Interest in this service began years ago, said Susan Harris, manager of ITCS/IT Communications. Some U-M academic and non-academic units wanted to provide broader access to commercial and locally developed television content to students beyond the confines of their building or in locations that do not have access to the campus cable television infrastructure, she said.

Users must have broadband Internet connections and certain machine configurations for Macintosh and Windows systems. They can visit the ITCom Web site— www.itcom.itd.umich.edu/—and click the "UM IPTV Investigation" link under "UMmedia." They need to authenticate the login with their uniqname and umich password. A user can only login and watch IPTV on one computer at a time and the computer must be connected within the Umich domain.

During the experiment on all U-M campuses, IPTV can not be accessed from ITCS Campus Computing Sites.

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