Thursday, January 24, 2008

What is IPTV

IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is a system where a digital television service is delivered by using Internet Protocol over a network infrastructure, which may include delivery by a broadband connection. A general definition of IPTV is television content that, instead of being delivered through traditional broadcast and cable formats, is received by the viewer through the technologies used for computer networks.

For residential users, IPTV is often provided in conjunction with Video on Demand and may be bundled with Internet services such as Web access and VoIP. The commercial bundling of IPTV, VoIP and Internet access is referred to as "Triple Play" service (adding mobility is called "Quadruple Play"). IPTV is typically supplied by a service provider using a closed network infrastructure. This closed network approach is in competition with the delivery of TV content over the public Internet, called Internet Television. In businesses, IPTV may be used to deliver television content over corporate LANs.

History of IPTV

In 1994, ABC's World News Now was the first television show to be broadcast over the Internet, using the CU-SeeMe videoconferencing software.

The term IPTV first appeared in 1995 with the founding of Precept Software by Judith Estrin and Bill Carrico. Precept designed and built an internet video product named "IP/TV". IP/TV was an MBONE compatible Windows and Unix based application that moved single and multi-source audio/video traffic, ranging from low to DVD quality, using both unicast and IP multicast RTP/RTCP. The software was written primarily by Steve Casner, Karl Auerbach, and Cha Chee Kuan. Precept was acquired by Cisco Systems in 1998. Cisco retains the "IP/TV" trademark.

Internet radio company AudioNet started the first continuous live webcasts with content from WFAA-TV in January, 1998 and KCTU-LP on January 10, 1998.[1]

Kingston Communications, a regional telecommunications operator in UK, launched KIT (Kingston Interactive Television), an IPTV over DSL broadband interactive TV service in September 1999 after conducting various TV and VoD trials. The operator added additional VoD service in October 2001 with Yes TV, a provider VoD content. Kingston was one of the first companies in the world to introduce IPTV and IP VOD over ADSL.

In the past, this technology has been restricted by low broadband penetration. In the coming years, however, residential IPTV is expected to grow at a brisk pace as broadband was available to more than 200 million households worldwide in the year 2005, projected to grow to 400 million by the year 2010. Many of the world's major telecommunications providers are exploring IPTV as a new revenue opportunity from their existing markets and as a defensive measure against encroachment from more conventional Cable Television services. In the mean time, there are thousands of IPTV installations within schools, corporations, and other institutions that do not require the use of wide area connectivity.

It is important to note that historically there have been many different definitions of "IPTV" including elementary streams over IP networks, transport streams over IP networks and a number of proprietary systems. Although (in Mid 2007) it is premature to say that there is a full consensus of exactly what IPTV should mean, there is no doubt that the most widely used definition today is for single or multiple program transport streams which are sourced by the same network operator that owns or directly controls the "Final Mile" to the consumer's premises. This control over delivery enables a guaranteed quality of service, and also allows the service provider to offer an enhanced user experience such as better program guide, interactive services etc.

By contrast "Internet TV" generally refers to transport streams sent over IP networks (normally the Internet) from outside the network that connects to the users premises. An Internet TV provider has no control over the final delivery and so broadcasts on a "best effort" basis. Elementary streams over IP networks and proprietary variants as used by websites such as YouTube are now rarely considered to be IPTV services.