What is IPTV?

What is IPTV?

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is a system where a digital television service is delivered over an Internet Protocol network. Werner describes that “IPTV is not a well-defined term and maybe a source of ambiguity and sometimes confusion”. IPTV works on the TV with a set-top box that accesses channels, subscription services, on-demand, and other interactive multimedia services over a secure, end-to-end operator managed broadband IP data network with desired QoS to the public with a broadband Internet connection. IPTV system may also include Internet services such as Web access and VOIP where it may be called Triple Play and is typically supplied by a broadband operator using the same infrastructure. IPTV is not the Internet Video that simply allows users to watch videos, like movie previews and web-cams, over the Internet in a best-effort fashion. IPTV technology offers revenue-generating opportunities for telecom and cable service providers. For traditional telephone service providers, Triple Play is delivered using a combination of optical fiber and digital subscriber line (DSL) technologies to its residential base. Cable television operators use a similar architecture called hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) to provide subscriber homes with broadband, but use the available coaxial cable rather than a twisted pair for the last mile transmission standard. Subscriber homes can be in a residential environment, multi-dwelling units, or even in business offices. From the service provider’s perspective, IPTV encompasses the acquisition, processing, and secure delivery of video content over an IP based networking infrastructure. The type of service providers involved in deploying IPTV services ranges from cable and satellite TV carriers to large telephone companies and private network operators in different parts of the world.
Figure 1 shows us a block diagram of a simplified IPTV system.

IPTV Features

IPTV has a number of features. According to, these features are: 
  • Support for interactive TV: The two-way capabilities of IPTV systems allow service providers to deliver a whole raft of interactive TV applications such as standard live TV, high definition TV (HDTV), interactive games, and high-speed Internet browsing. 
  •  Time-shifting: IPTV in combination with a digital video recorder permits the time-shifting of programming content. 
  •  Personalization: An end-to-end IPTV system supports bidirectional communications and allows end-users to personalize their TV viewing habits by allowing them to decide what they want to watch and when they want to watch it. 
  •  Low bandwidth requirements: Instead of delivering every channel to every end-user, IPTV technologies allow service providers to only stream the channel that the end-user has requested. This attractive feature allows network operators to conserve bandwidth on their networks. 
  •  Accessible on multiple devices: Viewing of IPTV content is not limited to televisions. Consumers often use their PCs and mobile devices to access IPTV services.

IPTV Advantages

 • IPTV signals are 100% digital, so the days of analog TV are fast becoming a thing of the past. 
• IPTV works on any existing internet connection. So we just need to install the set-top box and power it on. 
IPTV doesn’t require wires to get its signal. The newest IPTV set-top-boxes work on wireless signals. 
• Programs can be stored on servers and ready to view with the click of a button on IPTV remote (in contrast to linear broadcast TV).

Video on Demand

The idea of this to allow viewers to watch any program they desire whenever they want to watch . But as the technology advances and costs come down, video on demand (VOD) becomes more and more attractive to service providers. The basic concept of VOD is based on video programming that is stored and then delivered to a viewer when it is required. This storage can take the form of a centralized server that is equipped to send programming simultaneously to a hundreds of viewers, or it can take the form of more distributed storage throughout the network. At the limit, individual storage devices for each viewer can be located in individual STBs. 
The unicast connection is set up between the customers’ STB and the delivering streaming server. The signaling for the trick play functionalities (pause, wind, and rewind) is assured by Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP). The most common codecs used for VOD are MPEG-2 and MPEG-4.

Triple / Quadruple Play

Triple play refers to multiple services being delivered by a single service provider, such as voice (telephony), data (internet access) and television services. Quadruple play adds mobile telephony to the mix. From a service provider perspective, triple-play services offer the combined cash flow from three separate services that can be used to pay for a common network that is capable of delivering all of them. Service providers usually offer discounts to customers who buy more than one service, which has proven to be a successful marketing ploy. Triple play focuses on a combined business model rather than solving technical issues or a common standard. Quadruple play is often supported by dual-mode GSM plus WiFi cell phones that shift from GSM to WiFi when they come in a range of home wired for triple-play service.

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