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IPTV - Internet Protocol television

IPTV - Internet Protocol television

Internet Protocol television (IPTV) is the delivery of television content over Internet Protocol (IP) networks. This is in contrast to delivery through traditional terrestrial, satellite, and cable television formats. Unlike downloaded media, IPTV offers the ability to stream the source media continuously. As a result, a client media player can begin playing the content (such as a TV channel) almost immediately. This is known as streaming media.

Although IPTV uses the Internet protocol it is not limited to television streamed from the Internet (Internet television). IPTV is widely deployed in subscriber-based telecommunications networks with high-speed access channels into end-user premises via set-top boxes or other customer-premises equipment. IPTV is also used for media delivery around corporate and private networks. IPTV in the telecommunications arena is notable for its ongoing standardisation process (e.g., European Telecommunications Standards Institute).

IPTV services may be classified into three main groups:

  • Live television and live media, with or without related interactivity;
  • Time-shifted media: e.g. catch-up TV (replays a TV show that was broadcast hours or days ago), start-over TV (replays the current TV show from its beginning);
  • Video on demand (VOD): browse and view items in a stored media catalogue.

Historically, many different definitions of IPTV have appeared, including elementary streams over IP networks, MPEG transport streams over IP networks and a number of proprietary systems. One official definition approved by the International Telecommunication Union focus group on IPTV (ITU-T FG IPTV) 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.

 

Another definition of IPTV, relating to the telecommunications industry, is the one given by Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) IPTV Exploratory Group in 2005:

IPTV is defined as the secure and reliable delivery to subscribers of entertainment video and related services. These services may include, for example, Live TV, Video On Demand (VOD) and Interactive TV (iTV). These services are delivered across an access agnostic, packet switched network that employs the IP protocol to transport the audio, video and control signals. In contrast to video over the public Internet, with IPTV deployments, network security and performance are tightly managed to ensure a superior entertainment experience, resulting in a compelling business environment for content providers, advertisers and customers alike.

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F.A.Q about IPTV - Internet Protocol television

What is IPTV?

IPTV refers to Internet-based Protocol Television where the internet is used to deliver TV programs & Videos that are either live or on-demand. IPTV is a system where digital television service is delivered to the subscriber through Internet protocol technology via the medium of broadband or internet connection.

It is slightly different from a digital video that is accessed by millions of users on sites or apps like YouTube or Netflix, but it shares quite a bit of the same ubiquitous, pervasive nature. Also unlike standard cable or satellite connection, in IPTV multiple TV sets can use a single subscription within a home.

IPTV gives the viewers the added advantage and convenience of being able to pick the program they want to watch whenever and wherever they feel like watching it apart from tuning into any Live TV shows that are being aired currently.

How does IPTV work?

IPTV is much similar like browsing the internet than traditional channel surfing. It merely uses IP (Internet Protocol), a transport protocol that is a delivery mechanism to deliver the videos to the viewer. When the viewer clicks on any TV program or requests the video, video from different sources (servers) is divided into data packets and sent over the internet. Video servers transmit programs through fiber-optic cable to existing households via internet connection and requests are sent out and shows are sent back.

What is IPTV architecture?

Depending on the network architecture of the service provider, there are two main types of IPTV architecture that can be considered for IPTV deployment: centralized and distributed.

The centralized architecture model is a relatively simple and easy to manage solution. Because all media content is stored on centralized servers, it does not require a comprehensive content distribution system. Centralized architecture is generally good for a network that provides relatively small VOD service deployment, has an adequate core and edge bandwidth and has an efficient content delivery network (CDN).

Distributed architecture is just as scalable as the centralized model, however, it has bandwidth usage advantages and inherent system management features that are essential for managing a larger server network. Operators who plan to deploy a relatively large system should, therefore, consider implementing a distributed architecture model right from the start. Distributed architecture requires intelligent and sophisticated content distribution technologies to augment the effective delivery of multimedia content over the service provider’s network.

Broadcast content from Satellites and Local Antennas are received by the central unit. The central unit is where live TV channels and AV sources are encoded, encrypted and delivered in the form of IP multicast streams. The Central unit will also contain the Advertising Servers, Live TV Streaming Servers, Video on Demand (VOD) servers & platform and is where on-demand video assets are stored and served as IP unicast streams when a user makes a request. The VOD platform may sometimes be located with and considered part of, the IPTV’s central unit.

The requested videos and TV Channels are delivered to the viewer via the delivery network which consists of a robust internet uplink via Fiber Optics from the IPTV broadcasters end.

The viewer will receive this signal at their end via their local or preferred internet service provider which can vary from a range of options like broadband, fiber optics, DSL, etc..

When the viewer subscribers to a particular IPTV service they are provided with the service’s specific Set Top Box (STB). A set-top box is the piece of endpoint equipment that decodes and decrypts TV and VOD streams for display on the TV screen. This STB is connected to the viewers’ internet connection (router) and uses the internet to deliver the video and TV content to the viewer.

The viewer requests the videos or TV Channels via an interactive portal in the STB, that allows the viewer to navigate within the different IPTV services, such as the VOD catalog.

While this is a typical example of an IPTV architecture model, due to a wide variety of service providers in the market today and the IT options available in the market, each service provider may decide to implement a slightly different architecture that suits their needs, geographic area, endpoint internet connectivity, local market conditions & requirements, and business model.

What are the types of IPTV services?

Apart from transmitting classic TV channels, the following interactive services are also provided by IPTV:

  1. Video on Demand: Individual delivery of video content to a subscriber. It allows users to watch any movie from the VoD server’s media library.
  2. Near Video on Demand: It is a pay-per-view video service intended for multiple users subscribed to nVoD service. The content broadcasting schedule is compiled beforehand and subscribers can look at the schedule and watch content according to their interest.
  3. Time-shifted TV: Time-shifted TV lets subscribers view live broadcasts later so they can playback and resume at their convenience. Rewind option is also provided for TV programs.
  4. TV on Demand (TVoD): Selected TV channels are recorded so they can be viewed whenever convenient.
  5. Live Television: with or without interactivity added to currently broadcasted TV shows.
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