Cybersky-TV is a free software application for sharing television streams. It allows users with a broadband internet connection to share the TV channels they are able to receive. TV channels can be shared irrespective of the means of reception, be it by cable, terrestrial or by satellite, be it analog or digital, as long as there's a way of getting the signal to your pc. You can watch incoming channels in almost real time. There will be a constant delay of about 5 to 10 seconds.

How does it work?

Internet television has been around for quite a few years. All sorts of parties are offering it. It could be a paid service in combination with your internet/cable subscription, for example. It could be a service by the TV station, either free of paid for. Almost without exception getting the signal to the viewer involves a traditional client/server architecture: the client computer asks for a signal and the server computer sends a data stream containing the signal to the client. The signal provider needs to send every user an individual stream. When broadcasting live over the internet providers are literally sending thousands of times identical streams from their servers to the viewers' computers. It's an obvious waste of bandwidth (and therefore money) for the provider's server in particular, and for the whole internet infrastructure as a whole.

With peer-to-peer (P2P) technology data can be distributed in a far more cost-effective manner. Cybersky-TV uses this P2P approach. For this the ByteTornado protocol was created. Similar to existing P2P protocols such a eDonkey, BitTorrent, Gnutella and Kazaa, ByteTornado is sharing data delivery workloads across connected client systems as well as the distributor's own server infrastructure. This way it drastically decreases the operational costs for a stream provider.

What do I need to watch Cybersky-TV streams?

All you need is a broadband connection, the Cybersky-TV software and the appropriate codec to decode the data stream. And a PC of course. Your broadband connection should have a download speed of at least 400kbit/sec, which is rather common these days. Slower connections work as well, but the quality may suffer. For watching, firewalls, NAT routers and unsufficient upload speed are no problem. Read the Watchers' FAQ for more details.

What do I need to share TV streams?

Apart from the above mentioned Cybersky-TV software and broadband connection you'll need to have a way to provide a video signal: an analog or digital tv-card, or if you decide to operate your own TV-station a webcam and/or video content on your hard drive or on DVD. Your broadband connection should have an upload speed of at least 400kbit/sec. Read the Broadcasting FAQ for more details.

In what sense is it better than regular TV?

It's free (no spyware, no adware, no dials, no malware). There's an unlimited number of channels. Channels are available worldwide. There is no server capacity limit for broadcasters. You can watch without a TV (e.g. in the office).

Are there any drawbacks?

Videotext and close caption are not supported. If you want to watch on your TV, you need to connect it to your PC (this can be done quite easily). If your internet connection suffers from traffic problems, Cybersky-TV will too.

Is this bad news for TV stations?

On the contrary. It's TV as it has always been, just distributed differently. Making TV has always been a costly affair, particularly the distribution of it to the viewers. This now changes thanks to Cybersky-TV. Whether this is bad news for any particular TV station, depends on their own perspective. Fact is, whether Cybersky-TV will be a success or not, that peer-to-peer technology is going to change the way live TV content arrives to the viewers. This means risks as well as opportunities for everyone.

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