Inuk Networks, a startup IP TV service, is now sending digital TV to 40,000+ students in the UK. Its Freewire TV service is free to students with access to the JANET high speed network, which connects all UK universities. Over the next couple of months, Inuk Networks intends to add additional premium channels and aims to launch a residential IP TV offering through a partnership with Cable & Wireless, enabling the delivery of the Freewire TV service to the majority of UK homes.
Now, why do I post this you ask? Well, having met the founders I have been impressed by both the technology and the implementation. Because underlying FreeWire is what can only be described as a ‘virtual set-top box’. In other words, Inuk has developed a client application for both Mac and PC which turns the a laptop or desktop into a set-top box able to receive broadcast-quality TV. It’s not a P2P application but multicast which means it could scale to millions of users relatively easily. Not only that, but Freewire works a bit like a web application, which means you can even build widgets for it. So you could, say, watch TV and have an IM or Twitter conversation with other friends watching the same show. This is makes Inuk a company to watch.
Since launching in September 2007 Freewire TV has created a potential footprint of 100,000 student bedrooms at over forty universities around the UK. Inuk Network’s Freewire delivery platform is also capable of delivering VoIP and broadband internet access.
The basic Freewire TV service is free to users and broadcasts 25 entertainment channels including all the BBC channels, C4, E4, Film 4 and More 4 and digital radio stations. Freewire Extra provides 19 additional premium channels including FX, Living and MTV as well as Setanta Sports and costs £9.99 per month. It also offers a service in Canada and Ireland.