Norsk TV, VoIP & Internet


When we moved into our flat we where lucky, the owner had supplied a satellite TV box, and the previous occupants had left their card in there for Canal Digital. As an Englishmen I was able to get my favourite BBC programs through BBC Prime (an international channel from the BBC), BBC World news, BBC Food (really good) and english programming on Discovery and a couple of other channels.

Of course being satellite I also had approx. 100 channels that I didn’t need, plus Norwegian TV2, NRK1, NRK2 and Scandinavian MTV. A fine compliment, and nothing to complain about at all. Talking with others I have also heard that the rival telenor offer a good service. Plus in Bergen cable and terrestrial services are also available, but then our TV card ran out and it must have been a week before I noticed, and I don’t miss it so much probably due to my ADSL connection supplied by NextGenTel.

NextGenTel needed about 2 weeks to fix us up with an ADSL connection, supplied over an already existing ISDN connection into the apartment, into a nice small Cisco router, and as we opted for an IP phone a custom made IP phone adaptor. This was an all in one package, and we got approx 4Mb downstream, and 756K up – ample for our requirements. I changed the wiring configuration, meaning the IP phone adaptor was no longer a bridge but fed from our switch, and the upllink going via a cross over into the Cisco Router.

The IP phone means that we can take advantage of low call costs, on with others that have an IP phone on NextGenTel free calls. Unfortunetly after some digging around on PowerPoint Presentations from various Senior Members of NextGenTel I discovered that the IP phone was a closed system to NextGenTel. What a shame, although I don’t really care about this for in Norway, I see no reason that they needed to lock the IP phone down into a closed system. Further digging and googling showed that they have bought some fairly standard IP telephoney equipment, which supports standard VoIP protocols, so this much be a commercial decision to keep the carriers in the loop.

I wonder how long it is before they realise the mistake they are making here, opening up will mean even better communications for Norwegian residents, and could again take the lead from other countries (many of whos supplied of VoIP are using closed systems), and mean even more profits as more packets will be pushed over their IP networks.

The performance of the IP phone is usually very good, and now we have some nice Siemens DECT handhelds is less reliant on the siting of the base station, but they missed a trick, unless I haven’t seen it, with bandwidth management. It might be with my new switch based setup that doesn’t help, but I would have liked to see some packet shaping meaning that I always have ample bandwidth for the phone. Yes I took it out of a bridge mode, but the performance when I am hammer my Giganews account is poor, until I make use of the throttling on NewsReactor. When I put my Linux based Firewall back into the equation this is one of the first things I am going to setup.

But at the end of the day, in our house at least, Internet is taking over television as the main medium. We still watch a lot of films, but I much prefer the ease, quality and sound on a DVD setup even though my Plasma tends to show up DVDs not so well encoded, and the odd TV show can be had by other means on the internet I think we are going to see more time spent on the Internet. HDTV might change this to some extent as it has the opportunity to pass current DVD standards in its best configurations but I have yet to see any news of when this is going to be released onto Canal Digital system.

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