Skype's New Video Venture Now Called Joost

Peer-to-peer technology pioneers Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis have renamed their new online TV service that is still under development; they also plan to open the gates to let more people test the software.

The video stream service, formerly code-named The Venice Project, is now officially called Joost, according to the company's chief executive officer, Fredrik de Wahl, in an e-mail today.

The service, which is currently being tested by a select group of users, will allow people to watch TV on their computers, in addition to offering Web functions such as chatting and the ability to search and pull up programs on demand. You must apply to be a Joost beta tester.

Joost also plans to give more people an opportunity to test its software when the company launches the 0.8 version shortly, de Wahl said.

A broad public release is planned for the first half of this year.

Bandwidth Hog

A caution flag on the Joost application, however, is that it's expected to be a bandwidth blockbuster, which could pose a problem for Internet users with a strict monthly limit on broadband usage. The service consumes an average 320 megabytes of downloaded and 105MB of uploaded traffic for an hour's worth of TV viewing.

The 105MB-per-hour upload rate is almost equivalent to 256 kilobits per second, double the upload speed currently offered by many DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) services in Europe.

In documentation provided to beta testers, Joost warns that the service "will exhaust a 1GB cap in 10 hours" and explains how testers can exit the application to ensure it doesn't continue running once they've stopped watching.

Besides the new Joost online video service, Zennström and Friis founded the Kazaa peer-to-peer music exchange and the Skype VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) service.

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