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Aereo Offers New Streaming Service with Antenna Clusters

By Andrea Williams

In a move that could do away with the need of cable connections, subscription TV Aereo plans to use thousands of tiny antennas hooked up to internet connections to provide the same services.

Provided that broadcasters do not sue the project, Aereo will launch the service in New York City on March 14. With the service, users will be able to stream free-to-air content to their phones, computers or tablets for a monthly fee of just $12. Aereo will also offer a cloud-based DVR and the ability to pause live TV. Instead of adding a TV tuner onto your iPad, Aereo clusters together antennas in individual data center blocks.

Unlike the FilmOn AIR tuner or the Elgato EyeTV- which can tune into free-to-air TV using a tuner that's hooked on to the device, users of the Aereo service will receive their own tiny antenna in one of the company's centers. These antennas can pick up the available HD-quality transmissions, and offer content from more than twenty channels, with shows from ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.

The individual tuner with a user streams the channel to an HTML5 app, that can be used in desktop browsers, on phones and tablets, and some smart TVs as well. Aereo hopes that its subscribers may still want to sign up to on-demand services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, but even with the incorporation of such fees, it still falls below traditional cable.

Aereo, however may face some legal issues from broadcasters over its use of TV signals.

Going about the release in a city-wise fashion is because of of the antenna cluster architecture. Aereo hasn't revealed as to when will the service grow out of the Big Apple.