EU funds next-gen P2P broadcasting research

Peer-to-peer technology based on BitTorrent could power next-generation TV broadcasting in Europe.
A European Union-funded research project is exploring a new system that could replace over-the-air TV broadcasts, Ars Technica explains.
With €19 million in EU funding and a research remit stretching to 2012, Dutch academic Dr. Johan Pouwelse has spent a year studying BitTorrent as part of his research toward the new technology, which is being hatched-up to deliver live streaming video, rather than catalogue shows.
P2P-Next is based on BitTorrent, but adds support for video on demand and live streaming. The technology could ease the pressure on broadcasters, who must pay for huge quantities of bandwidth when they stream live material online.
“In centralised video streaming systems, such as YouTube, a single set of computers provides the video to all viewers. Such a solution requires a massive number of computers (like YouTube has) to serve all of the videos to a large set of users,” the project website explains.
Peer-to-peer technology takes a different approach. The video stream is served to a few users, after which users exchange and forward the video stream among each other. The users thus help serving the video, reducing or even removing the need for a central server park. Starting a YouTube-like system becomes orders of magnitude cheaper when P2P technology is used. The downside of peer-to-peer is that the quality is harder to control.
A test version of the software (SwarmPlayer) has been made available, and the developers are appealing for people to put the solution through its paces in order to help improve the code. Available content includes BBC live footage and a feed from an Amsterdam webcam.
Apart from the EU, other investors in the project include: BBC, the European Broadcasting Union, and Pioneer Digital Design Centre Limited.
Test versions of the software for Windows and Linux are available now, with a Mac version set to debut next week.
The P2P-Next project aims to build a next-generation P2P content delivery platform, to be designed, developed, and applied jointly by a consortium consisting of high-profile academic and industrial partners with proven track records in innovation and commercial success. P2P-Next is developing a platform that takes Open Source development, open standards, and future-proof iterative design as key design principles. By using P2P technology we aim to provide an efficient and low-cost delivery platform for professional and user-created content.
This is the first of many trials that the P2P-Next project will conduct in the coming 4 years.

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