The European Union has invested
19 14 million euros in a research project aimed at using P2P for Internet television. The project, called P2P Next, is a cooperation among almost two dozen European academic institutions, broadcasters and electronics makers. The BBC, the European Broadcasting Union and Pioneer are some of its better-known members.
The goal of the project is to build an open-source solution that would include video-on-demand functionality as well as community features for a range of devices. Who knows, maybe this is even going to power the next generation of the BBC’s iPlayer?
P2P Next will work on this solution over the next four years. “Plans are underway to test the system for major broadcasting events,” the project’s press release reads, and although it doesn’t mention any specifics about the use of P2P, there are indicators that BitTorrent will play a major role. The Delft University of Technology is part of the project as well; Delft’s Dr. Johan Pouwelse is its scientific director.
Pouwelse is also the head of the Tribler team at Delft University. Tribler is a social BitTorrent client that offers its users collaborative filters to download content matching their taste very much the same way Last.fm selects music for its personalized streams. Some of Tribler’s functionalities will likely find their way into the P2P next system.
According to a description of the project on the Tribler web site: “It will be an academically pure architecture: no central servers will be needed, combined with BitTorrent backwards compatibility.” The system is also going to feature P2P playlists that will be analogous to RSS feeds in the web world, a reputation system that makes sure users won’t get spammed and something the Tribler site is describing as “wiki-style moderation.”
The BBC is currently using the closed P2P content delivery system Kontiki for its iPlayer, but the broadcaster has been experimenting with more ambitious P2P setups in the past. One project included terabyte DVRs that were recording multiple channels at the same time and then swapping these shows over a device-to-device P2P system, allowing users to access years worth of TV programming from multiple channels.
Update: An earlier version of this story stated that the project got 19 million – the number was based on an erroneous press release.