• Internet Protocol Television (IPTV): Viral Technology

    Internet Protocol Television (IPTV): Viral Technology

    IPTV is a way to deliver television content that provides a more interactive and customizable experience to end users. With it users who are at geographically diverse regions could, for example, watch the same film together while simultaneously interacting with each other online. It can be free, offered for purchase or bundled in with other Internet services.

    What is IPTV?

    IPTV is a system that allows television programs to be delivered through the Internet or a Local Access Network rather than through land-lines, satellite or cable. It differs from downloaded media in that it allows the media to transmit in smaller chunks directly from the content provider so that the viewer can begin viewing before the entire film (for instance) has downloaded. This is what is commonly known as streaming. The difference between Internet television and IPTV is the continuous standardization and preferential deployment.
    There are several definitions of IPTV going around the Internet. But the official International Telecommunication Union defines it as:

    “ […] 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.”

    IPTV’s Potential

    No longer held back by narrow bandwidth and the price of installing cable, IPTV has been expanding exponentially since the jump in broadband availability that started in 2005. In late 2009 the FCC started work to develop ways to make TVs with cable into network video players.

    The Markets

    Between 2009 and 2013 the number of IPTV subscribers was expected to jump from 28 million subscribers to 83 million. Europe and Asia lead in the number of subscribers, but fall behind North America as a result of the low cost of access to users in China and India. Asia is the fastest growing market as well as the largest.

    IPTV in Hospitality

    Vendors are also interested in providing IPTV services to hotels. It is a logical progression from Pay-Per-View and Video on Demand to IPTV. Locatel, Select-TV, VDA, and Tivus are a few of the companies already reaching out to hotels. Some have even prioritized sales to hotels and similar businesses before targeting the home market.

    Components of IPTV

    -TV head-end: live TV broadcasts are encrypted and delivered as multi-casts.
    -VOD: video on demand properties are held and served at the user’s request.
    -Interactive Portal: creates a menu for the user to select between various IPTV services.
    -Delivery Network: a packet-rich network which distributes IP packets to users.
    -Home Gateway: the device the user keeps at home which translates data at its endpoint.

    Video Server Network Architectures

    There are two types of server configuration that can be used to deploy IPTV: Distributed and Centralized.

    • Distributed Architecture

    Distributed architecture is scalable as is the centralized version, but its superior bandwidth and management features are required for larger server networks. Networks that use distributed architecture must employ intelligent content distribution technology to provide effective multimedia content delivery. It is recommended that operators who intend to use a large system consider using a distributed network from the beginning.

    • Centralized Architecture

    The Centralized model is simpler and easier to manage than the alternative because its contents are kept in centralized servers. No complex content distribution system is needed. This type of architecture is appropriate for small VOD services, has sufficient edge and core bandwidth and an efficient content delivery network.


    In 2013 Time Warner Cable lost 306,000 television subscribers. According to Tom Rutledge, CEO of Charter Communications, 1.3 million out of 5.5 million customers aren’t interested in traditional television. They want broadband Internet. Cable subscriptions are at an all time low. It’s more than a trend, its a tide. This historical shift from mainstream television viewing to viewing over the Internet and mobile devices will hurt cable providers who do not invest heavily in IPTV sooner than later.