Last night, just in the nick of time, Comcast came through and fixed the problem I was having with viewing live NHL games. I was able to watch the Rangers decimate the Devils with about the same quality as on a regular TV. All of my escalated trouble tickets were returned no trouble found (NTF). I didn’t change anything on my end. So what happened? My best guess is that they had some setting problems with their multicast reflectors that they figured out and changed. The end result is that I can now view live NHL games in a 640x480 pixel window streaming at 678 kbit/s. The quality is pretty good as long as I don’t start doing any network intensive activities on my network. I can start and stop the stream reliably.
After some rough starts, it seems that their IPTV experiment is working. Their IP network has not come crashing down, but they are only providing one streaming channel. IP multicast helps off-load the burden of millions of users hitting the server simultaneously. Let’s take it to the next step and offer a few different channels. That will be the real test.
I have yet to hear how many people are watching the hockey games, but I can imagine that the number is in the several tens of thousands. Hopefully they will add the other content that they promised soon so we can see how the web can enhance TV viewing. Maybe the next step is adding their OnDemand programming to HSI subscribers. With a 6 Mbit/s pipe into the home, we can expect to see more IPTV from Comcast.