In depth: iiNet's FetchTV service

iiNet teams up with FetchTV to bring a comprehensive IPTV offering to Aussie audiences

Set-top box

The set-top box has most of the capabilities of a box you can buy in a store, except that it won't allow you to archive recorded shows to your PC. There is an easy to use program guide, a nifty timer function that allows you to easily add time before and after the recording, and easy to use parental controls. You can even tell it to delete old episodes of a recurring recording (such as the nightly news, for example). It also supports applications; currently there are Facebook and Twitter apps that can give you updates on your TV. Additional applications are being worked on in-house and by FetchTV, and iiNet is encouraging outside developers to get in on the act too, but there won't be an app store.

With its three tuners and 1TB hard drive, the set-top box is great value on its own (the twin-tuner, 500GB Topfield TRF-7160 costs $599, for example). Bonus: the remote control that ships with the box is universal, so you can also use it to control your TV.

User requirements

In order to be eligible for the FetchTV service with iiNet, you will need to be connected to an iiNet's DSLAM and have a connection speed up to 4.5Mbps. Although the FetchTV service will only take up 2.5Mbps, iiNet stipulates 4.5Mbps so that you can still comfortably use the Internet while the set-top box is downloading content. iiNet says it may also consider applications from users who can get up to 3Mbps if they are adamant they want the IPTV service and that 500Kbps will be fine for their Web browsing.

The other major current requirement is iiNet's BoB modem. While some may see this as an opportunity for iiNet to gouge its customers, the company says that the chipset in BoB has been developed with IPTV in mind and that it matches the chipset in iiNet's DSLAMs. The BoB is finetuned to handle the noise cancelling and error detection protocols that will be running over it. Furthermore, by standardising on a single modem, the company's customer support can be more focused and efficient.

iiNet says the second-generation Belkin firmware for the BoB is in testing and it will probably be released in a few weeks. According to the ISP, it won't be looking at other modems for the FetchTV service for months, but it will be bringing its customers' most popular modems through the labs and having a play with them to see how they handle the service. So at this stage, all users will have to migrate to BoB, but this may change in the future.

No sharing between dwellings

Because the FetchTV service uses multicast technology that relies on physical identifiers such as a MAC address to work, if you have access to more than one iiNet connection (for example, one at your place and one at a relative's) you can't just plug in BoB and the set-top box and log in to the network to watch IPTV. The physical location of your DSLAM needs to be matched to the MAC address on your gear for the multicast distribution to work. However, a scenario where a user has one account and can switch it via the Web toolbox between two locations that have set-top boxes is something that is being looked at.

Churning

iiNet is the first ISP to make a deal with FetchTV, but FetchTV is working with other ISPs to offer IPTV over their networks too. As such, if down the line you want to change ISPs but want to retain the FetchTV service, you might be able to churn. In the spirit of fair play, iiNet said it's working on setting up a churn program so that you can use your set-top box with another ISP that offers the FetchTV service.

Bandwidth

None of the IPTV data will count towards your monthly iiNet quota, which is just as well because during the course of a month about 300GB worth of data will be pushed to the set-top box. All the FetchTV data will be in the iiNet Freezone, except for data that is used by the Facebook application, which is peer to peer. Services that have traditionally been in the Freezone, such as ABC's iView and the iTunes music store, will continue to reside in the Freezone, too.

Facebook data is not in the Freezone.

Conclusion

At first glance, the FetchTV service appears to be a winner. We're impressed by the simplicity of its menu layout, and the hardware specifications of the set-top box. But most importantly, there is good content available, such as National Geographic documentaries, plenty of cartoons for the kids, and stacks of movies, so it should appeal to a wide audience.

Become a fan of GoodGearGuide on Facebook

Follow GoodGearGuide on Twitter: @GoodGearGuide

Stay up to date with the latest reviews. Sign up to GoodGearGuide’s Gear Daily newsletters

Tags IPTViiNethome entertainmentFetchTVbroadband

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Elias Plastiras

Elias Plastiras

Good Gear Guide

4 Comments

Electro

1

As an iiNet customer I was looking forward to IPTV for several years (so I could get rid of the expensive Foxtel box), however, I will not buy a BOB to run it when I already have a good Modem (bought in 2009) & a quality Router (bought in 2009) that should be supported by iiNet as both are major brands, so iiNet looses a customer who will be sticking with Foxtel for the foreseeable future, I sincerely hope they fix the BoB issue at some point as FetchTV will not be what they want it to be until this stupidity on iiNets part is rectified!

Disappointed

2

There are a few aspects of this service which appeal, but overall it's a massive disappointment.

The required to buy or rent Bob, the monthly subscription (why not have it all 'on demand'?), the bottleneck on the home network with all that downloading going on to fill the 1TB drive.

And the movies I get to choose from the monthly selection may not be movies I actually want to watch. Which gets us back to the old dumb Foxtel model - charge you for stuff (channels, movies) you don't actually want.

Until someone comes out with a better business model, I'll stick with my AppleTV - I buy the 'box' and can rent movies (many in HD) with zero monthly fees or additional hardware to buy. Plus, iTunes content (and therefore AppleTV content) is in iiNet's Freezone.

What is really needed is an Australian version of Netflix streaming, or something like Hulu.com (currently blocked in Aust, due to 'licensing restrictions').

In summary, it's rather crummy that I have to buy /rent wo additional piece of hardware, and pay $20 a month for a selection of channels/content that I may not even want. And THEN be charged extra for 'pay-per-view'. And there's no sport channels (well, not yet).

C'mon iiNet - you can do better than this!!! :-)

Exar

3

Well I'm an iiNet subscriber who has the BoB and have been very pleased with iinet's service so far. I love concept, however I'm going to hold back on this until there's a convincing reason to spend $30 per month for a PVR with a handful of documentary/music pay channels and movies I've already seen.

sr2012

4

@Dissapointed. Hey... Big pleasant surprise for me to see AppleTV streaming is on iiNet Freezone... Score! Hope they keep it that way, saves me a huge amount of quota. I only watch ABCNews24 on regular old antenna and AppleTV for everything else. Other than which the HDTV is used for Xbox360.

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?