Bell Canada has finally launched their super cool IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) service. As a technology guy, when a new product or service arrives, I feel it is my duty to sign up for it. This way, when friends, family members and colleagues ask me about it, I can continue to provide a valuable service. Plus… it helps to justify my obsession for cool things.
I wasted a lot of time searching the Internet (and Bell Canada’s website) for more technical information related to the service and I found a significant amount of outdated information and technical inaccuracies. Specifically, a number of people online are telling others that Bell’s IPTV service is television over the Internet. This is highly inaccurate since Bell has gone to great lengths to design the network in such a way that video and Internet do not interfere with each other.
The “last mile”, that is, the connection between Bell Canada and your house is not fibre-optic cable. Rather, it is a very fast version of DSL called VDSL2. Since television signals, especially high definition signals require lots of bandwidth, VDSL2 is key here. It’s also one of the reasons the Bell Entertainment Service is only available in selected serving areas. In many areas, the network does not yet exist, or the would be subscriber homes are too far away from the facilities.
Bell Entertainment Service high level network diagram
The red lines indicate the path of the television signal, while those in blue indicate regular Internet browsing. The grey cable from the Alcatel-Lucent Cellpipe modem/router is a regular POTS line (plain old telephone service) that connects to one of Bell’s many DSLAMs. From the remote networks, Bell has fibre-optic cable connecting them to their main facilities.
At the main facilities, Bell “splits” the VLANs (virtual lans) out depending whether it’s a television service or Internet service. These connections have a dedicated amount of bandwidth to ensure your television service is not impacted by downloads over the Internet.
Each television is connected to a Motorola VIP console. The main console is called a VIP1216 and it houses the hard drive used to pause, record, rewind and schedule recordings. If you have multiple television sets in your home, they will connect to VIP1200 consoles. Although the VIP1200s do not have a hard drive, they can still connect to the main console’s hard drive to watch recorded shows and schedule future television recordings.
My service hasn’t been installed yet, but I’ll be sure to provide a more thorough update once I’m up and running.
- Jun 6: A year in review. Pros and Cons of Bell’s Fibe TV Entertainment Service.
- Oct 20: Our bandwidth test results are impressive.
- Bell Fibe TV Entertainment Service website.
- Bell IPTV User Guide.
JUN. 6 UPDATE: A year in review of the Bell Entertainment Service follow-up post. What I like, what I don’t like.
OCT. 19 UPDATE: My service is up and running and the service has impressed me so far. 22Meg Internet, plus HD TV and whole home PVR is pretty sweet. I’ll write a follow-up review soon. In the meantime, I wanted to provide a link to Bell’s IPTV user guide since a lot of people have been asking me for more detailed information, but Bell’s website seems to fall short.
OCT. 20 UPDATE: I wrote a follow-up post that describes the results of my Internet bandwidth tests while watching TV.
Jan. 18 UPDATE: Jon Simon, Management Support (IPTV) at Bell Canada has informed me that Bell will be (finally) adding CNN to its channel lineup next month.