The BBC has confirmed that a closed beta of iPlayer will commence on Freesat on December 7, followed by a gradual rollout to all high definition users.

At a briefing held today, BBC controller of TV platforms Rahul Chakkara said that the catch-up platform on free-to-air satellite would carry around 450 hours of programming when it fully launches next year. He explained that the service will be available via the Red Button at first, but that could change in the future.

The BBC and Freesat are taking a "cautious" approach to the launch, with a group of around 200 users being selected to participate in a closed beta. Users will have to connect their set top boxes to an internet connection via an ethernet port on the back.

All testers have been deliberately picked to cover a wide demographic of circumstances to ensure that the service is rigorously evaluated. Feedback will be gathered via email and an online resource.

Dependent on the success of the beta, the service will then be expanded before Christmas to a much larger group of users who have Freesat boxes manufactured by Humax.

When it fully launches, the on-demand platform will be available on all Freesat HD equipment, including integrated TVs, but standard definition receivers will not be able to access it.

Freesat managing director Emma Scott said that around 600,000 Freesat HD receivers have been sold to date, constituting 70% of the platform's overall sales.

A demo of the Freesat iPayer showed that it is similar to the PlayStation Network incarnation, with a more compact user interface and functionality compared to the online offering.

The service offers two streaming options for content - 'watch now' to run at 800Kbph or 'higher quality' at 1.5Mbps. All 'trick modes' for fast forward, rewind and pause are enabled on the platform.

Despite the platform only being available on HD receivers, it will not support any HD programming. Chakkara said that the team is adopting a "crawl first" approach to getting the SD service right before looking into HD.

He said that any HD launch would also be dependent on available capacity on the UK's broadband networks due to the much greater bandwidth required for HD streams.

BBCIPlayer via Freesat will be limited to UK receivers connected to UK ISPs and IP locational checks will ensure that non UK Freesat boxes are unable to use this serves, just like the checks used for connecting to IPlayer via a PC.