Conference at BBC
Conference at BBCMore
Internet Protocol television (IPTV) is a system through which television services are delivered using the Internet protocol suite over a packet-switched network such as a LAN or the Internet, instead of being delivered through traditional terrestrial, satellite signal, and cable television formats. Unlike downloaded media, IPTV offers the ability to stream the media in smaller batches, directly from the source. As a result, a client media player can begin playing the data (such as a movie) before the entire file has been transmitted. This is known as streaming media.
IPTV services may be classified into three main groups:
- Live television, with or without interactivity related to the current TV show;
- TV head-end: where live TV channels are encoded, encrypted and delivered in the form of IP multicast streams.
- VOD platform: where on-demand video assets are stored and served when a user makes a request in the form of IP unicast stream.
- Interactive portal: allows the user to navigate within the different IPTV services, such as the VOD catalog.
- Delivery network: the packet switched network that carries IP packets (unicast and multicast).
- Home gateway: the piece of equipment at the user's home that terminates the access link from the delivery network. -
- User's set-top box: the piece of equipment at the user's home that decodes and decrypts TV and VOD content and displays it on the TV screen.
- Time-shifted television: 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 a catalog of videos, not related to TV programming.
IPTV is distinguished from Internet television by its ongoing standardization process (e.g., European Telecommunications Standards Institute) and preferential deployment scenarios in subscriber-based telecommunications networks with high-speed access channels into end-user premises via set-top boxes or other customer-premises equipment.
Although IPTV and conventional satellite TV distribution have been seen as complementary technologies, they are likely to be increasingly used together in hybrid IPTV networks that deliver the highest levels of performance and reliability. IPTV is largely neutral to the transmission medium, and IP traffic is already routinely carried by satellite for Internet backbone trunking and corporate VSAT networks. The use of satellite to carry IP is fundamental to overcoming the greatest shortcoming of IPTV over terrestrial cables – the speed/bandwidth of the connection.
The copper twisted pair cabling that forms the last mile of the telephone and broadband network in many countries is not able to provide a sizeable proportion of the population with an IPTV service that matches even existing terrestrial or satellite digital TV distribution. For a competitive multi-channel TV service, a connection speed of 20 Mbit/s is likely to be required, but unavailable to most potential customers. The increasing popularity of high definition television (with twice the data rate of SD video) increases connection speed requirements, or limits IPTV service quality and connection eligibility even further.
However, satellites are capable of delivering in excess of 100 Gbit/s via multi-spot beam technologies, making satellite a clear emerging technology for implementing IPTV networks. Satellite distribution can be included in an IPTV network architecture in several ways. The simplest to implement is an IPTV-direct to home (DTH) architecture, in which hybrid DVB-broadband set-top boxes in subscriber homes integrate satellite and IP reception to give near-infinite bandwidth with return channel capabilities. In such a system, many live TV channels may be multicast via satellite (IP-encapsulated or as conventional DVB digital TV) with stored video-on-demand transmission via the broadband connection. Arqiva’s Satellite Media Solutions Division suggests “IPTV works best in a hybrid format. For example, you would use broadband to receive some content and satellite to receive other, such as live channels”.
Hybrid IPTV refers to the combination of traditional broadcast TV services and video delivered over either managed IP networks or the public Internet. It is an increasing trend in both the consumer and pay TV [operator] markets.
Hybrid IPTV has grown in popularity in recent years[when?] as a result of two major drivers. Since the emergence of online video aggregation sites, like YouTube and Vimeo in the mid-2000s, traditional pay TV operators have come under increasing pressure to provide their subscribers with a means of viewing Internet-based video [both professional and user-generated] on their televisions. At the same time, specialist IP-based operators [often telecommunications providers] have looked for ways to offer analogue and digital terrestrial services to their operations, without adding either additional cost or complexity to their transmission operations. Bandwidth is a valuable asset for operators, so many have looked for alternative ways to deliver these new services without investing in additional network infrastructures.
A hybrid set-top allows content from a range of sources, including terrestrial broadcast, satellite, and cable, to be brought together with video delivered over the Internet via an Ethernet connection on the device. This enables television viewers to access a greater variety of content on their TV sets, without the need for a separate box for each service.
Hybrid IPTV set-top boxes also enable users to access a range of advanced interactive services, such as VOD / catch-up TV, as well as Internet applications, including video telephony, surveillance, gaming, shopping, e-government accessed via a television set.
From a pay-TV operator’s perspective, a hybrid IPTV set-top box gives them greater long-term flexibility by enabling them to deploy new services and applications as and when consumers require, most often without the need to upgrade equipment or for an engineer to visit and reconfigure or swap out the device. This minimises the cost of launching new services, increases speed to market and limits disruption for consumers.
The Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) consortium of industry companies is currently promoting and establishing an open European standard for hybrid set-top boxes for the reception of broadcast and broadband digital TV and multimedia applications with a single user interface. These trends led to the development of Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV set-top boxes that included both a broadcast tuner and an Internet connection – usually an Ethernet port. The first commercially available hybrid IPTV set-top box was developed by Advanced Digital Broadcast, a developer of digital television hardware and software, in 2005. The platform was developed for Spanish pay TV operator Telefonica, and used as part of its Movistar TV service, launched to subscribers at the end of 2005.
An alternative approach is the IPTV version of the Headend in the Sky cable TV solution. Here, multiple TV channels are distributed via satellite to the ISP or IPTV provider’s point of presence(POP) for IP-encapsulated distribution to individual subscribers as required by each subscriber.
This can provide a huge selection of channels to subscribers without overburdening Internet trunking to the POP, and enables an IPTV service to be offered to small or remote operators outside the reach of terrestrial high speed broadband connection. An example is a network combining fibre and satellite distribution via an SES New Skies satellite of 95 channels to Latin America and the Caribbean, operated by IPTV Americas.
While the future development of IPTV probably lies with a number of coexisting architectures and implementations, it is clear that broadcasting of high bandwidth applications such as IPTV is accomplished more efficiently and cost-effectively using satellite and it is predicted that the majority of global IPTV growth will be fuelled by hybrid networks.
An IP-based platform also allows significant opportunities to make the TV viewing experience more interactive and personalized. The supplier may, for example, include an interactive program guide that allows viewers to search for content by title or actor’s name, or a picture-in-picture functionality that allows them to “channel surf” without leaving the program they’re watching. Viewers may be able to look up a player’s stats while watching a sports game, or control the camera angle. They also may be able to access photos or music from their PC on their television, use a wireless phone to schedule a recording of their favorite show, or even adjust parental controls so their child can watch a documentary for a school report, while they’re away from home.
In order that there can take place an interaction between the receiver and the transmitter, a feedback channel is needed. Due to this, terrestrial, satellite, and cable networks for television do not allow interactivity. However, interactivity with those networks can be possible by combining TV networks with data networks such as the Internet or a mobile communication network.
Another advantage of an IP-based network is the opportunity for integration and convergence. This opportunity is amplified when using IMS-based solutions. Converged services implies interaction of existing services in a seamless manner to create new value added services. One example is on-screen Caller ID, getting Caller ID on a TV and the ability to handle it (send it to voice mail, etc.). IP-based services will help to enable efforts to provide consumers anytime-anywhere access to content over their televisions, PCs and cell phones, and to integrate services and content to tie them together. Within businesses and institutions, IPTV eliminates the need to run a parallel infrastructure to deliver live and stored video services.
For residential users, IPTV is often provided in conjunction with video on demand and may be bundled with Internet services such as Internet access and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telecommunications services. Commercial bundling of IPTV, VoIP and Internet access is sometimes referred to in marketing as triple play service. When these three are offered with cellular service, the combined service may be referred to as quadruple play.