Monthly Archives: May 2008

IPTV Explained

A Reader Asks

 “I recently heard of television programming that is available on IPTV. Can you please tell me what that means?”

 IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is a method of delivering television services in the form of IP (Internet Protocol) Packets. When these “Packets” reach your home the converter box on top of your TV converts, or more technically “Decodes” these to a signal that your television can translate and deliver programming to you.

 IPTV is a very secure, closed system with content controlled by the service provider. There is a high level of quality and control connected with IPTV. This is totally different from a confusingly similar sounding technology named Internet TV where video is streamed over the Internet to your computer. An example of Internet TV might be YouTUBE® or some of the many other similar services available on the Web. These services are typically presented at a much lower quality than IPTV.

 IPTV allows a two-way street promoting interaction with the program materials and On-Demand services. Typically streaming video is a one-way street with few viewing options. This two-way street also allows the service provider to “sneak a peek” at the viewing trends of their viewers and adjust offerings and advertising accordingly.

 Unlike current Cable and Fiber technologies being transmitted directly to the user’s home IPTV content is transmitted to a central office where the analog or digital television signals are “Encoded” into data packets, indexed for searching and stored in memory waiting for the consumer to call-up their favorite show. These data travel to the consumer’s home and are “Decoded” to standard television signals for use on a standard TV receiver.

 Eavesdropping on your viewing habits is not the only benefit of IPTV’s interactive nature. This can also help engineers optimize the signals delivered across the service provider’s entire region. For example, let us consider five communities in a particular area. If areas one and three are heavy users but two, four and five are not consuming as much of the bandwidth, adjustments to the system could be made instantaneously to divert more signal resources to the heaver use areas and balance the unused bandwidth against the demanded bandwidth. When the lower use communities demand increases they could be fed more bandwidth to meet demand.

 Basically IPTV technology provides much greater control over technical resources and allows for customized, technical quality control as needed by demand. This allows for a much more cost effective network than one that sends the same “Power” to all consumers without regard to usage trends.

 In the United States IPTV is not a widely embraced technology. There are about 1.2 Million IPTV subscribers in the United States. In comparison there are approximately 90 Million subscribers to satellite, cable and fiber services. -33-