IPTV/VoD: Get up to speed
Fast track your knowledge
Industry comment The industry and its technology moves so fast that it is easy for information to become outdated and for people to lose track of all the things they need to know. This document is a typical briefing sheet supplied in the workshop that covers all the main points that are essential for any executive or technician to understand.
- IPTV stands for Internet Protocol Television and is an umbrella term describing TV and video delivered using internet technology instead of normal linear RF broadcast.
- Video On-Demand is a service where video (a movie or TV programme) is sent over a computer network when a viewer requests it. It has all the normal VCR functions that would be found on a DVD disc or VHS tape (pause, rewind, fast forward etc) but is sent down a wire instead.
- IPTV can be supplied on any device that has internet technology built it into it, for example, desktop PCs, IP set-top boxes, games consoles, mobile phones, handheld devices, car stereos and home media players.
- IPTV is not new or something on its way. It has already been deployed widely all over the world, mostly by incumbent national telcos over broadband DSL networks. There are over 30 IPTV networks in Europe alone.
- IPTV has also widely been adopted by companies providing B2B video services such as retail TV, video conferencing and hospitality systems for its significant cost savings and integration with other IP systems.
- "Triple Play" is an industry term for when a cable or telecoms company offers customers phone, internet and TV in one package on the same monthly bill.
- "Quadruple Play" and "multi-play" take the triple play concept one stage further and add mobile telephony and other domestic services into the package.
- The revolutionary change with IPTV is that every viewer has a personal relationship with a broadcaster through a transactional request/response mechanism, rather than just picking up a broadcast sent to anyone and everyone.
- Traditional TV platforms are only different to each other in the way they are transmitted. All have the same features (set-top box, programme guide, channels etc). The UK TV market is unlike any other in the world.
- At present, IPTV is just cable TV down telephone wires. It will be revolutionary only through being an open platform that anyone can innovate round – one where the philosophy of the internet is adopted as well as the technology.
- For IPTV to reach its potential, video bandwidth must be a commodity. Capacity usage charging (e.g. BT IPStream), contention ratios and premium connectivity actively prevent deployment of IPTV services.
- Although it will not appear overnight, IP and transactional delivery will be the dominant method of broadcasting in 10 years.
- The eventual goal of IPTV is to distribute live, stutter-free high definition television (HD) over the backbone of the internet rather than satellite, cable and terrestrial networks.
- The promise of IPTV is that every piece of audio and/or visual content every created in human history will be available in digital form anywhere in the world, on any device, whenever anyone wants it, wherever they are at that moment.
- Digital media and our preferences for it will follow us wherever we go in the world, so rights will need to be allocated to an individual rather than a country and a platform. All systems will feature centralised viewer database information and decentralised/local delivery equipment.
- The most efficient way to currently offer TV and video over the internet is to use some form of decentralised P2P system where users download from each other rather than a data centre. P2P does not reduce video traffic, it merely redistributes it to the edge of the network from the core.
- Eventually all electronic devices will have internet connectivity and be able to talk to one other (so-called "convergence"). The internet will be the communal worldwide network that they communicate across internationally wherever they are.
- IPTV networks generally are based on one of two models – the so-called "closed" model using a private IP network (LAN or DSL like cable TV) and the "open" model, using the public internet.