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Nov 03 2009

BBC iPlayer’s long-awaited beta testing is finally expected to start this November.

According to Rahul Chakkara, Controller of TV Platforms at BBC FM&T, the MHEG-5 compliant version of the interface will begin Beta deployment “by end of November” on the Freesat platform.

I expect to start a Beta deployment by the end of November using capable Freesat devices.

As we had suspected, it seems that BBC might have been holding back to introduce the service across both the Freesat and Freeview platform at the same time, though Freesat is still expected to be the first to offer in HD.

The DTG (Digital Television Group) supported by BBC R&D, has extended the MHEG-5 standard to use the interaction channel for handling Internet video. This standard has been adopted by Freesat and incorporated into the DBook 6.1 used in Freeview HD devices. Finally now the resulting MHEG-IC service will allow both platforms to access additional AV content via the Internet. This will include BBC iPlayer of course, as well as other VoD (Video On Demand) and Catch-up TV services, plus much more in the future including real-time programme interaction.

61 Responses to “BBC iPlayer Beta Testing To Begin This Month”

  1. Cerberus Says:



  2. Laurent Says:

    Sounds great. Does anyone know how to enter the Beta phase? I am an heavy iPlayer user and would like to be involved with my HD Humax box..



  3. Paul S Watts Says:

    About time, I would suggest.

    More good news for sure, but won’t there be aneed for software upgrades? And, what time scale are we looking at for the “testing” period and when can we start to enjoy the service for real.?

    I will watch with anticipation………………….


  4. eklektofonic Says:

    The interesting thing will be if the Freesat iplayer works with non UK IP adresses, unlike on the web. Us ex-pats would like to use on demand access from our Humax Foxsat boxes as well…


  5. Bob H Says:

    My NDA has prevented me from saying anything, but it is nice that someone has made a statement on this subject.



  6. Lee B Says:

    Doubt it will work outside uk, shame the BBC won’t share the Iplayer Tech as this could be used to get around C4HD broadcasting restrictions.


  7. Ross Says:

    can anyone get the beta version


  8. Brettski Says:

    @Lee B – they want to, they’re not allowed


  9. Al Catraz Says:

    admin – compliant, not complaint! 😉


  10. admin Says:

    Ahem, don’t know what your talking about :)

    Thanks Al


  11. karlos1966 Says:

    What does he mean when he says ‘capable Freesat devices’!!!!


  12. dmce Says:

    Cool, i noticed this on the BBC Internet blog yesterday. I use Win7 Media Centre onyl for freesat content. I wonder if it will work with that?


  13. jonathan Says:

    ‘Capable’ … I suspect this covers Freesat when users of the new low end SD boxes start to complain. Obviously a LAN connection is needed but I suspect a few of the less expensive models may struggle a little. Humax, Technisat, Sagems I suspect will be fine.

    But who knows for sure.



  14. Derek B Says:

    Will it stop/start and run slow if your internet connection is slower broadband (eg. 1 to 2 MB), or does the software get around that?


  15. b Says:

    Derek B: it will stop and start depending on the speed of your connection.


  16. m o malley Says:

    at last some good news from freesat,but all we need is some hd channels
    to put a smile on our faces but somehow i doubt it will happen..


  17. AlexH Says:

    @ dmce
    As far as I know, it’s for boxes only. But try TunerFree MCE.


  18. John_M Says:

    “I expect”… “capable devices”…

    Are we sure Rahul Chakkara said “beta”? Language is a funny thing. Someones gran once said they could get a meagre meal for a fiver from ther local supermarket. Intrigued, they went with her to see what it was. “Gran”, they said, “it’s not a meagre meal, it’s a mega meal.”


  19. Dmce Says:

    @AlexH I have tried tunerfreemce and it’s pretty cool but I was hoping for proper support


  20. andrew wright Says:

    great news can not wait to start testing the system at the end of the i got my eail to confirm i wil be testing and great news for freesat


  21. Sam P Says:

    Great news as an advancement but i do struggle a little with this concept.

    I thought Freesat was aimed at us poor folk who cant get a Freeview signal to get around the Digital switchover issues.

    What percentage of those people who need Freesat to watch telly (ie no alternative other than Sky) get decent enough bandwidth to stream Iplayer properly ? especially iplayer HD ?

    I dont even live in the middle of nowhere (near Harrogate) and fall into both categories so it all seems a little bit of a waste of time. Can’t people just plug their laptop into their tv and watch iplayer anyway, without hardwiring your router to the back of your Freesat box (how many people have their router near their box – I do, but don’t think many others do ) ?


  22. Dan M Says:

    Sam P: It might seem like a waste of time to you, but thats just because you cant get it. I live in a poor freeview signal area, but receive download speeds of 18mb from Be Unlimited broadband. It will be perfect for me.


  23. Robert Says:

    Hi how do you become a beta tester for the BBC IPlayer as i have Humax HDPVR (FOXSATHDR) and broadband and would like to take part?


  24. Richard Crichton Says:

    @Sam P

    If people buy a Technisat with the WLAN add on their box can be downstairs and their router upstairs.
    Just a thought.


  25. Brettski Says:


    Me too, but I doubt this is an open beta..


  26. Pidgeon Says:

    It’s open to those who applied long ago. They’ve been selected because they applied and will be posted what they need to start. You will need an internet connection with a decent speed. iPlayer will be sent by a software update when it’s officially released.


  27. Neil_b Says:

    If I have a slow b/band connection, can I download the iPlayer content to the HDD on my FOXSAT-HDR box, then watch it later, thus avoiding trying to watch a stuttering “stream”?


  28. Mark Says:

    @Richard Crichton. Alternatively purchase a couple of ethernet over mains devices, these have really come down in price recently. I purchased a couple of high speed ones for £20 off someone who got them free with his homehub.There are several on ebay (either the 85Mbit or the 200Mbit ones will work equally well)


  29. Lee B Says:

    It’s very good news and if done well I’m sure will sell some extra HDR boxes for Humax. I’d like to think the HDR would also cope with Project Canvas and then you will be able to catch up on all the shows a bit like a virgin media TV box can.


  30. Steve Says:

    @Mark. I think what Richard was trying to say was that the Technisat will also offer you the choice of Wireless Streaming as well as a hard wired ethernet port or AV plug systems. I have been lucky enough to test the wireless streaming of other media such as movie files, MP3 and JPegs on the Technisat and it works really well. All STB’s/PVR’s with ethernet ports will be able to receive the i-player


  31. Steve Says:

    @Neil_b. Humax have sadi that the standards defiined ny the Beeb currently preckude storing the iplayer stream, if you have low bandwidth it should just come through in low res rather than stutter… should !

    To the point in 21 above – if Freesat is a service for people in the middle of nowhere then iplayer is a chocolate teapot for the principle audience, since they will not have the bandwidth to enjoy it. Of course if Freesat was meant to steal subscribers from Sky then iplayer makes a lot of sense … !


  32. Derek Says:


    Sending your computer network via the mains causes serious interference to other users of the radio spectrum because your mains acts as an unbalanced antenna and your computer signals spread well outside your home. Ofcom engineers investigate many complaints about this every month. If the devices cause problems they MUST cease to be used because they are not a protected service.

    Sweden has just banned many of these devices from sale and the subject is being discussed by the relevant EU committees. It is possible that other EU countries may follow this lead.

    The data sheets for these devices contain a warning in the VERY small print that they may cause interference (i.e. don’t ask the manufacturer for a refund if you have to stop using them….).

    Against this background it is not surprising that the price is coming down. The technology is unsuitable for purpose.


  33. Nat Says:

    Powerline / Homeplugs are fantastic (you can even get gigabit ones now)
    A pair of these will get your internet connection to your Freesat box wherever your router is. I’ve got some 200 mbps one and they stream HD content from my iMac to my Apple TV with no problems, so an internet connection is a piece of cake.


  34. Derek Says:


    They may be “fantastic” for you, but not for other users of the radio spectrum. They operate at (approximately) 2-28MHz, which is the HF band – traditionally used for long distance communication.

    They raise the local noise floor by a significant degree and prevent other service users from communicating. If your devices cause interference to anyone else Ofcom will take them down because the other service users have priority. Simple. You may waste your money if you buy them.

    Every time a BT unit (packed with their BT Vision product) causes interference BT are required to hard wire the installation and remove the devices (usually Comtrend, but not always).


  35. Nat Says:

    We all share the radio spectrum to some degree and there will always be conflicts. Microwave ovens can take down a Wi-Fi network when they operate, Wi-Fi can block wireless devices in a neighbours home, older vehicles and mopeds used to knock out my Freeview when they went past my house.

    BT chose Powerline adaptors for BT Vision and I can see why – they are superb. BT do have a bit of experience when it comes to communications.
    You mention that they have to hardwire if there is an interference problem – that seems fair enough to me – it proves that generally wireless is not up to the job when it comes to video streaming.

    Freesat users who need to get the iPlayer working will do the same as BT, hardwire or Powerline plugs.


  36. Tony Hales Says:

    What do they actually mean by a ‘beta deployment’. It either works or it dosen’t. No big deal .
    Will I get it by the end of Nov or not? I have a capable device connected to my router. Windows 7 beta was available to everone as are many other beta softwares.
    Why restrict it to a small number of people,these so called testers, apart from the obvious reasons like people winging etc. If its made clear that its a beta use it at your own disgretion what’s the problem?


  37. Richard Crichton Says:

    Quote from another forum.
    ‘Does not have to be hardwired from your PC upstairs, you can use a Homeplug a/v system which Freesat are due to launch in december or wirelessly with the TechniSat receiver’. unquote.

    Is there any truth in Freesat launching a homeplug a/v system in December?


  38. admin Says:

    @Tony Hales

    BBC/Freesat wish to control the number of users with the product at BETA state and are requesting feedback from those that take part in order to help develop and test the service. Whilst open BETA is available for some products as you’ve mentioned, it isn’t for BBC/Freesat.


  39. admin Says:

    @Richard Crichton

    Freesat already have a wireless product out specific to the TechniSat receiver. There is no news on any other device, but the spec is certainly there.


  40. Rob H Says:

    Well here we go the trial starts imminently for me!


  41. Tony Hales Says:

    @Rob H

    I hope your found not guilty :-)


  42. Humax To Launch HDR Software In November | Join Freesat Says:
  43. andrew wright Says:

    any one how is doing the deta test started using iplayer i am still waiting for them to send me my test kit


  44. Brian Damage Says:

    @andrew wright

    Eh?! Is this beta test being carried out using BBC provided test kit?

    Somehow, I assumed that the BBC would be working with major manufacturers to ensure that the manufacturer’s software update works – and that the Beeb would have selected consumers for eligibility in the test, based on the hardware they already own…


  45. Tony Hales Says:

    They are sending out the software on USB sticks to people who registered for the trial earlier in the year. I heard its only Humax owners that are involved but I need confirmation on that one.


  46. Tony Mc Says:

    Will the iPlayer work on a Panasonic Freesat enabled TV or do you need a Freesat box?


  47. Tony Peake Says:

    Any of the Beta testers want to tell us what its like? How do you access it ?


  48. Ade Says:

    I’m a beta tester – the USB stick with the required software should arrive today. ( It bloody-well better as I’ve stayed in all day!!)

    I’ll post back when I have something to tell you.


  49. Ade Says:

    it didn’t get delivered!!!



  50. Ade Says:

    At last – the software arrived today, and the iPlayer is now up and running.

    Limited content and the moment but it is working. The picture is not HD, but still watchable, although the sound is not right yet.


  51. Brian Damage Says:

    @ Ade.

    No HD and poor sound? Oh dear. I’d say it’s still some way off being ready :-(

    How much are you allowed to discuss?


  52. Ade Says:

    Well – they did say there would be problems at first, so I am not surprised. I am expecting the quality and the content to improve over the next weeks.


  53. jon cole Says:

    i got my wii update with free iplayer channel today…bang on the stroke of midnight.
    It’s v good…has a cinematic quality to the picture, and is comparible to me streaming it through my telly from my pc. wirelessly streamed via wii from my router

    Who needs a humax/freesat version…although i’d be interested to see the difference in quality on my humax pvr and me wii.


  54. Paul S Watts Says:

    Hi all

    I also dowbloaded the Wii iPlayer channel yesterday and frankly, I am really pleased with it.

    OK, they have simplified it all to accomodate the very low memory of the platform, but – it works and very well too.
    Picture quality very god, no dropouts or even pauses [which we seem to get occasionally on the Virgin Media version] and the sound is spot on.

    I will be very interested to see the development and hopefully much better Freesat version [hopefully before Xmas, but not holding my beath!] but have the Wii to at least catch up on the radio section which is not available on the Virgin Media system.



  55. james Says:

    Only on Humax HD boxes only though!!?? Not on any others?


  56. Ade Says:

    Hi James

    It appears the iPlayer will only be available to HD boxes. Any brand of HD box should be able to access the iPlayer, but not SD equipment, as I understand it.


  57. Howie Says:

    Is there a confirmed date when BBC will launch the IPlayer service via FreeSat
    this aricle via BBC states by Christmas
    Which year!!!! :-)


  58. Ade Says:

    Well – having used the iPlayer now for a month, things have settled down. The quality of the service has improved as the quantity of available programmes.

    The iPlayer has two options to download – standard and high quality. Even the standard download is quite acceptable. I’ve just watch ‘Paradox’ in HQ and to be honest, apart from a very few seconds of pixels cropping up, it was just like watching it live.

    Early on there were a few clips with sound problems, but this appears to have been addressed.

    You can, of course, pause and FF & RW the clip, and it only takes a few seconds to pick up from the new section and resume the play.

    I watched ‘Life’ as I knew it was shot in HD and the quality of the iPlayer was, as expected, not able to do it justice – but, it’s early days yet and you never know!

    It is certainly better watching iPlayer on my LCD panel in the lounge rather than on my laptop.

    I can see the iPlayer on Freesat certainly being something I would be using on a regular basis.

    Recording to the hard drive might now just be reserved for programmes not available on iPlayer, programmes deserving to be seen in HD and stuff to keep.

    All in all, I think it is another useful option.


  59. Nige Coleman Says:

    Powerline adapters cause chronic radio interference and came to market in the UK via a loophole in the law. Many ‘battles’ have appeared across the web between radio users, enthusiasts, EMC Engineers and users of PLT products, & the fact remains that PLT / PLN / PLC in its current format does not comply with the essential requirements of the EMC Directive: 2004/108/EC and therefore the UK Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations (2006) – which states that devices MUST NOT prevent radio equipment from operating as intended.

    Current Powerline adapters do not and cannot comply with EN 55022 for Conducted Emissions; all Powerline products which have been subjected to lab tests thus far, have failed the limits set by international agreement by a huge margin. The adapters belong to two main categories governed by the ‘alliances’ of various manufacturers and principally comprise the HomePlug Powerline Alliance (HPA), the Universal Powerline Association (UPA) and more recently with the advent of gigabit PLT, the HD-PLC Alliance.

    On the HPA website, careful browsing allows one to locate a pdf intended for internal use which is a presentation entitled, “HomePlug Executive Seminar, Setting Standards In Motion”. Page four of this document is titled:

    “EMC Issue with EN 55022″ here the HPA state the products do not comply:-

    “Safety, immunity and harmonics are correct but almost all PLC devices pass over the CISPR 22 class A, B limits SO FAILED THE TEST and we could not generate (directly) the DoC (Declaration of Conformity) needed for Europe.”

    The text which follows this explains how to circumvent this embarrassing problem!

    If you currently use one of these products in the UK, you may receive a visit from OFCOM should a complaint be registered about radio interference in your locality. These devices can cause terrible problems and have been observed over 1km from the installation. Calculations based on the extensive work undertaken by NATO indicate that there is now significant and increasing risk of disruption to Civil Air safety radio systems. Let us hope YOU aren’t on one of those planes…

    At a meeting in March 2010 at the House of Commons, attended by Adrian Sanders (MP), Clive Corrie (Ofcom), Colin Richards (RSGB) and Alan Warner (EMCIA) Ofcom admitted there is a problem and are looking at the Wireless Telegraphy Act to include interference from networks.

    Many PLT manufacturers used non-legitimate documentation as the basis for their Declaration of Conformity, citing CISPR/I/89/CD for a technical construction file reference. This document was acrimoniously withdrawn from the IEC’s website in 2003 having been discredited. Also, this document was a Committee Draft (signified by the suffix CD) and was thus never a Standard which could be (nor should have been) referenced.

    As an engineer, I strongly discourage the continued use of these products and in particular, for those who are relying upon the technology to achieve a home or small business network, there is a realistic chance you may be required to ditch the devices and make other arrangements, at your own cost and with no possibility of recompense.

    BT have discovered to their significant cost, the perils of using these adapters as part of their BT Vision product (IPTV), where, in cases complaints have been made, BT had to replace the equipment with a hard-wired network or expensive Ruckus Wi-Fi.

    Read the truth about Powerline products with test results from highly accredited laboratories at


  60. Phil Reader Says:

    Will the iPlayer work on a Panasonic Freesat enabled TV ?


  61. Gerald Says:

    I was updating my Grundig GUFSAT01HD box when during the process i had a temporary loss of power. After i managed to restore the power and electricity was back up, i tried to turn my console on, but with no luck. It would no longer turn back on. If anyone has an idea or opinion on how to go about fixing this problem, I would be grateful to hear it. Thank you in advance. Gerald …


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