IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is a way of receiving a television program through a broadband digital network infrastructure. It is usually delivered by using either a VOD (Video-on-Demand) service, VoIP(Voice-over-IP), Web or email. It is still a developing technology but the worldwide love affair currently occurring with broadband internet has made IPTV a serious and inexpensive competitor to the more traditional ways of receiving your television programs, such as through a radio signal from a tower specially built for that purpose, satellite, or by cable.IPTV is digital television that is received on your television set, not your computer, but it uses the same high speed broadband technology as does your internet broadband connection. For it to work the TV channels are encoded into an IP format and received at your end through a set top box. You can also receive video-on-demand services in the same manner.
IPTV for the Technically Minded
For the technically minded, IPTV works because it changes a normal Television signal into small 'packets' of digital data so it becomes the same as any other piece of online traffic such as a web page or email. To get this data to your television screen three important stages must be gone through, these are:
- Firstly, there is the content head end. It is here where the TV channels are received and encoded as well as where content such as videos are stored, along with the television signal itself.
- Secondly is the delivery system. This is a landline network infrastructure involving broadband technology provided by an internet service provider (ISP).
- The third is a set top box. This is required at the place of the customer. It is in the set top box where the 'packets' are put back together again in the form of programming. This is done by the software contained in the set top box which is the connection between the receiving television set and the ISPs broadband modem.
It’s all About Quality, Speed and Affordability
Digital audio and video is of a much higher quality than the old analogue system. And it can be used where interactivity is required, for instance, people watching the television broadcast could check out an actor’s background and other films he or she might have taken part in, while watching his or her latest blockbuster. It also enables you to record a program that is going to show while you will be absent. It also allows you to check the online catalogue for a movie you want to watch and then order it and watch it all in a matter of seconds.IPTV is cheap for both operators and the end user because it uses the same network infrastructure that is used for any of your other broadband services. However it does require a fast broadband connection for it to work at its best. This is why ADSL and ADSL2+ broadband technologies have made it worth while considering today. If the broadband connection is too slow you can experience delays and at worst loss of signal altogether.
The Types of IPTV Service You Can Access in Your Home
There are three main groupings which involve an IPTV service. These are:
- Content, or video on demand.
- Time shifted programming.
- Live television.
IPTV is different from your usual internet broadband services in that it includes an ongoing standardisation process known as ETSI, as well as preferred deployment areas in subscriber based telecommunication networks that can access high speed channels and take them to a set top box, or like devise, wherever the customer is located. Therefore it is in the area of live television that we are primarily concerned with in this guide.
The Meaning of What IPTV Really is Remains Arguable
Different people in the television and technology industry have argued for many years about how to best define what IPTV really is. This is because there are many different streams attached to its technology, for instance there is the elementary and transport streams over IP networks, as well as many propriety systems.The most common definition is that which describes it as being either single or multiple program transport streams (MPTS). These being streams that come from the same network whose owner controls the final link to the consumers location. The final link is the one that allows the provider to guarantee the quality of service. In commercial use IPTV is mainly used for the delivering of live television broadcasts, video-on-demand and video play out channels via WAN or LAN IP networks where the quality of service is controlled. The International Telecommunication Union has therefore officially adopted the following as the official definition of what IPTV actually is:“IPTV is defined as multimedia services such as television/video/audio/text/graphics/ data delivered over IP based networks managed to provide the required level of quality of service and experience, security, interactivity and reliability.”
How is IPTV Different to Regular TV?
If you’re wondering why you would bother connecting to IPTV when you can already watch regular TV, there are some important differences you should consider:
- It is usual for an IPTV service to be delivered from a well designed and complex broadband network infrastructure. This infrastructure is well engineered so that it guarantees the bandwidth can efficiently deliver large amounts of multicast data traffic. The better the quality of the network, the higher the quality of the TV content. This type of quality control makes IPTV the better choice if you are seeking premium content. This will be even more important in the future after the National Broadband Network (NBN) completes the rolling out of its super fast optic fibre cable network across Australia.
- Regular internet TV doesn’t come through the IPTV network. Internet television on the other hand means the transport streams are sent over the IP networks, usually via the internet from outside the actual network itself that connects to the receiving television set. The ISP has no real control over the final delivery as only its infrastructure is being used by the broadcaster who is a different entity altogether. For instance, YouTube is not normally considered to be an IPTV service as it is regarded as being a proprietary variant. Internet TV is a quick and easy service to provide and requires very little investment. It can be carried on existing network infrastructure including wireless, and satellite. This makes it a quite valuable tool for many ISPs looking for new ways to earn more money.
IPTV is More Interactive Than Traditional or Internet TV
One of the biggest attractions IPTV has over traditional and internet TV is that it can be more personalised and interactive. This improves a viewer’s enjoyment of the experience. For example a provider could include a program in which you could look up a title of a movie by searching the actors name. You are able to surf the different channels while still watching the main program. You will be able to check out a sports stars statistics while watching him or her perform. You will even be able to change the camera angle in order to get a better picture. Much of this is also available today with existing digital TV but the bounds are much wider with IPTV.
Will IPTV Remain Free or Become Fee Based?
The perennial battle over free and fees based IPTV is still rebounding around the world as the new technology shows promise of being able to make a lot of money for an innovative ISP. Back in 2006 there were 1,300 free IPTV sources available worldwide and the figure is believed to be growing rapidly as the major TV companies are beginning to transmit their programs through the internet as well as free to air and by cable. All you need to receive free IPTV is an internet connection, a computer with a HDTV connection, or more lately a 3G or 4G mobile phone and you can watch free IPTV content whenever you want to do so.
What the Future has in Store for IPTV
Before now IPTV had been restricted because broadband was not widely available and the wire capable of carrying the signal was not regarded as being suitable, but now things have changed so dramatically with broadband being available in over 400 million households worldwide, IPTV is being looked at far more favourably by the world’s biggest telecommunication companies. Schools, universities, corporations, are all now looking towards IPTV as being the way to go in the future. Especially with super fast fibre optic taking over from copper wire in many parts of the world. It is being forecast by many experts that TV and the internet will eventually be interwoven with each other. This will be sped up even more-so as Tablets and iPads take over from computers as the CEO of Apple recently predicted. Real time TV on your iPad is more than a dream even today as it is already widely available.The fact that it is relatively easy and cheap to establish internet TV shouldn't be looked on as a threat to IPTV as both services target different customers. There is no doubt that there is much in common with both technologies in the way of web based content storage and the manner in which it is delivered.