For $49.99 per month bundle you can now buy an unlimited ADSL2+ Internet service and a 48-hour rolling buffer of video from a surveillance camera.
Surveillance cameras are a fact of life for many small businesses, especially retailers. But things get more complicated if you want to be able to monitor the camera remotely or to preserve recordings off-site in case of fire or other disaster.
So TPG has launched a $49.99 per month bundle on an 18-month contract that combines an unlimited ADSL2+ Internet service and a 48-hour rolling buffer of video from a $139.99 surveillance camera. This allows authorised users - up to three at a time - to log in to the service to watch live or recorded video.
On the plus side, it appears that the system is easy to install and set up. The camera connects to the router via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, it automatically switches between day and night settings, and there's no need to mess with the router's settings to way you normally must before you can remotely access a networked camera.
But there are some downsides. The video is only 640 x 480 pixels, whereas full HD is increasingly popular for surveillance cameras as the higher quality makes people's faces more easily recognisable. Still, HD cameras are more expensive and require significantly greater bandwidth - as it is, the video stream requires 256Kbps, which is about a quarter of what's available for uploads via ADSL2+ according to TPG's figures. Only one camera is permitted per bundle.
As it is a fixed camera, there is no opportunity for remotely adjusting the direction it's pointing or zooming in on an area of interest (pan, tilt and zoom, or PTZ) as you can with more upmarket cameras. But the camera is very affordable, and a fixed image can give adequate cover of locations such as shop entrances or office reception areas. In any case, PTZ is most useful when somebody is watching the live feed.
And the video is made available from TPG's servers in FLV (Flash) format. While FLV is widely supported, it does not work on iPhones and iPads, and that could be an issue for some users. While there are services that convert FLV to an iOS-friendly format on the fly, it's questionable whether you'd want to use them with a security-related function.
The bundle is understandably only available to premises served by an exchange from which TPG offers ADSL2+ service, but curiously it is not available to existing TPG customers.