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BBC tests HTTP adaptive streaming for iPlayer

The BBC is using its coverage of the Wimbledon tennis tournament to test Adobe HTTP adaptive bit-rate streaming for its iPlayer catch-up service for the first time.

According to Andy Armstrong, technical architect for programmes and on-demand at the BBC, the use of the technology, which breaks video into short chunks of between four and 10 seconds and varies the bit-rate of the video stream being delivered according to the available bandwidth, could enable the broadcaster to deliver iPlayer to a wider range of devices.

The BBC currently uses he Adobe RTMP protocol to deliver iPlayer to most computers, and uses HTTP and HTTPS to deliver it to other connected devices. It has used adaptive bit-rate streaming for some sports coverage with a limited range of available bit rates. However the Wimbledon test will see it use Adobe HTTP Dynamic Streaming at six different bit-rates, with a maximum resolution of 720p HD. Users will see a small icon in the upper left corner of their screen that identifies the current bit-rate they are receiving. 

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