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IPTV/VoD - What You Need To Know
Digital TX Limited offer a very popular 1-day
that aims to save delegates up to 12 months of research time by telling them everything they need to know about IPTV in a single day.
Are you looking to learn more about IPTV and video on-demand? The IPTV workshops are still going on so visit
and mention code
The industry and its technology moves so fast that it is easy for information to become outdated and for people to lose track of all the things they need to know.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 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 monopolist 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 digital signage, 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.
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.
IPTV networks generally are based on one of 2 models – the so-called "closed" model using a private IP network (a LAN or DSL circuit like cable TV) and the "open" model, using the public internet.
IPTV content can be real-time (live) or offline (downloaded). It can also be pushed to a client device (e.g. overnight delivery) or pulled across the network.
Most ISP and telco networks are based on an old telecoms technology called ATM. The advent of broadband has meant most are upgrading their networks to be IP-based.
Almost all of the top 10 broadband ISPs in the UK now have a strategy of some kind for providing voice and television to their customers.
The most practical way for ISPs to enter the television market in the UK is to provide some form of hybrid TV/broadband service that adds a broadband "back channel" and PVR functionality to the Freeview or Freesat digital TV platforms.
BT's network is ATM-based and does not support multicast. The 21CN upgrade programme will change the UK infrastructure to be IP-based and is expected to be complete just before UK Digital TV Switchover in 2012.
IPTV video is usually supplied in MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and/or Windows Media (VC-1). The favourite choice is H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC) that can produce DVD-quality video at very low bandwidths (1-3Mbit/s for SD, 6-10Mbit/s for HD). Most need the video to be encapsulated in an MPEG-2 transport stream.
Most IPTV platforms use open standards and trusted protocols for delivering audio and video in real-time, such as RTP, RTSP, resilient UDP and SAP/SDP.
A normal 8Mb ADSL connection can theoretically support up to 3 SD IPTV channels or 1 HD channel in MPEG-4, but in practice it is difficult to send more than 1 on either. A DSL connection must usually be 4Mbit/s and above to support a live IPTV broadcast stream and 2Mbit/s for on-demand content.
Fiber (Gbit/s), Ethernet (100Mbit/s), ADSL2+ (24Mbit/s) and VDSL2 (70Mbit/s+) connections are a more preferable and reliable network speed to deploy IPTV over.
Video running over IP networks is easily disrupted, so in order to make sure the picture doesn't break up a network must implement Quality Of Service (QoS) rules that separate voice, video and internet data into their own "channels".
The internet is a best-effort network and does not have QoS. IPTV provided by ISPs runs across their network but does not reach the internet. QoS is achieved by mapping ATM virtual circuits (VCs) to IP Virtual LAN groups (VLANs).
An IPTV testing lab or small simulation can be purchased and installed extremely cheaply and easily (less than $10k or £5k) on any office LAN to help cross-train developers and create example software applications.
The Net Neutrality or Two-Tier Internet debate originated in the USA, and refers to a unilateral policy being adopted by US telcos of charging content providers more for using their network to deliver content than they do themselves.
It is almost impossible to reliably transmit broadcast video over a wireless (Wi-Fi) network, even if it runs at speeds over 108Mbps. Specialist technologies exist that try to solve this problem.
The easiest way to connect an IP set-top box to a broadband wire when it can't be connected by a normal Ethernet cable (i.e. when it is in a different room to a home router) is to use PLC (powerline communication) – 200Mbps Ethernet over home electricity cabling.
The future of the broadband home is to have embedded PLC technology in all electronic devices, so they are immediately network and internet-enabled when they are plugged into an electric socket.
Live television must be multicasted over a network, which is the computer equivalent of normal broadcast where only 1 copy of a TV signal is sent instead of everyone having a personal (unicast) copy. Many networks do not support UDP-based multicast technology, including the Internet.
Almost anything that can be done on a website on the Internet can be done on an IP set-top box. Services are private intranet "websites" hosted on a normal web server but specifically formatted for a TV.
Using internet technology means any part of an IPTV system can talk to any other system that speaks internet, like Voice over IP (VoIP), POP3/IMAP email, instant messaging, text messaging, picture messaging and more.
The revenues from video on-demand alone cannot support an IPTV service. Research shows viewers in the UK watch less than 8 VoD movies a year and they are not perceived to hold as much value as a rented DVD.
The most popular VoD services on UK IPTV networks are free TV "Catch Up", music video playlisting and cult TV programmes from the 1980s. Usage and behaviour (e.g. peak time viewing) is the same as any other platform.
VoD services compete primarily with internet piracy, PVR recording and normal live TV broadcast.
Almost all IPTV and VoD services are targeted at "early adopter" young males, totally ignoring women or people older than 50. TV is a social and sharing experience that does not take well to being made into a PC.
Like all forms of TV, IPTV is about content and entertainment, not technology. Viewers follow content and it must be "pushed" to them as with all types of media. There is no use having the world's best technology if there is nothing on TV. Viewers do not care where content comes from or how it is delivered.
On-Demand is not a revolution. It is the way we do everything anyway, and have done for centuries. We buy food when we feel like it, on-demand. Its appeal is due to it being a very natural and familiar way of doing things.
90% of content in the world is non-PPV (pay-per-view) that viewers will not pay to watch. It must be supported by advertising. The UK is not a pay-TV market.
The "Long Tail" is a concept coined in a Wired magazine article describing the shape of a sales reporting graph for online stores like Amazon, iTunes and Rhapsody where sales of niche or back-catalogue items make more money and general sales volume than premium products.
Cameron's Law states that the amount of content made available on a digital platform must be directly proportional to the ease of navigation through, and subsequent consumption, of it.
The "Long Tail Problem" or "Digitisation Problem" refers to how expensive ingest, digitisation and management of digital content is, and that because it is difficult to sell directly, there is no business case to do it in the first place.
The "Ivory Tower Complex" is a term that has come to describe the resistance shown by larger movie studios and TV production companies to distribute their content non-exclusively.
The "1% Rule" is a concept derived from usage behaviour analysis of user-generated content (UGC) and social networking websites where 1% of the audience will actively create and submit content, 9% will moderate it editorially, and the rest are happy simply to passively consume it.
3D video games that usually run on games consoles can be played disc-less across an IPTV network, with the pictures sent as MPEG video.
The "Million Channel EPG" is an industry term to describe how the TV channels a consumer can watch with IPTV are effectively unlimited and not restricted by satellite geography or street cabling.
Convergence messes up the intellectual property system that content producers use because it relies on platforms being different from one another and rights allocated by country.
IPTV has not been officially consistently defined in a legal sense for rights clearance in the content industry, and does not fit into either the accepted "TV" or "New Media" category.
The sheer mass of unlimited digital content being made available means that wholesaling, intermediation, filtering and aggregation are emerging as viable and essential business models for digital media content.
Large volumes of content means that communities and "organic" community features such filtering, recommendation, popularity, categorisation and niche/vertical "channels" are natural and essential for helping viewers buy and consume it.
The uncertain legal status of IPTV has led to the publication of the deeply unpopular TV Without Frontiers Directive and its extension, the Audiovisual Media Services (AMS) Directive, which attempt to force linear TV broadcast regulation on new media services.
Digital TX offers a great value one-day workshop course on IPTV and Video On-Demand (VoD) specifically for web and media professionals. It can help you get up to speed on the latest technologies, content deals, operators and applications across the world, and offer immense value in identifying both new opportunities and threats for your business and personal career. If you would like more information, call Alex on 07986 37317, email
. Readers who mention code
will receive a 10% discount on the course fees.
About Digital TX Limited
Formed in early 2004, privately owned and based in London (UK), Digital TX Limited are IPTV/VoD consultants for interactive digital television and broadband media. Some of the keywords you might associate with us are IPTV, Video On-Demand, Triple Play, Broadband Entertainment, Video Over IP, Interactive TV, Network Video Gaming and Telco TV.
Digital TX Limited has worked with many leading blue chip communications providers and can help catalyse your route to market for IPTV services by working with you to design your next-generation multimedia network, build your commercial deployment model and broker relationships with vendors, rightsholders, partners and customers. If we can be of any assistance please don't hesitate to contact Alexander Cameron on +44 (0) 7986 373177 or via email on
Posted on Nov 06, 2006
IPTV Events Calendar
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IPTV, the Reality TV Show
IPTV/VoD: The World That's On Its Way
IPTV and VoIP do not equal IPTV and VoIP?
Interactive TV Services for IPTV
Pete Ianace Describes the Future of IPTV and the Rise of Internet TV in TMC
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