What is IPTV ?

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is digital television delivered on your television (and not PC) through high speed internet (broadband)
connection. In this service, channels are encoded in IP format and delivered to the TV through a set top box. IPTV service also includes video on demand, which is similar to watching video CDs/DVDs using a VCD/DVD player.

How does it work?
IPTV converts a television signal into small packets of computer data like any other form of online traffic such as email or a web page. There are three main components of IPTV. First, the TV and content head end, where the TV channels are received and encoded and also other content like videos which are stored. The second component is the delivery network, which is broadband and landline network provided by a telecom operators such as MTNL.

The third component is the set top box, which is required at the customer location. The packets are reassembled into programming by software in the set-top box. This box is connected between the operator’s broadband modem and customer’s TV.

What are the advantages of IPTV?

The quality of digital video and audio is much better compared with the traditional analogue TV. With additional features, it can become interactive. For example, viewers may be able to look up a player’s history while watching a game. They also may be able to schedule a recording of their favourite programme when they are not home. With video on demand, they can browse an online movie catalogue and watch the movies instantly.

Because IPTV uses standard networking protocols, it promises lower costs for operators and lower prices for users. Using set-top boxes with broadband internet connections, video can be streamed to households more efficiently than cable.

What are the limitations of IPTV?

Because IPTV is based on internet protocol, it is sensitive to packet loss and delays if the IPTV connection is not fast enough.

When was IPTV service first used?

In 1994, ABC’s World News Now was the first television show to be broadcast over the internet, using the CU-SeeMe video conferencing software. Internet radio company AudioNet started the first continuous live webcast in January, 1998.

When was IPTV rolled out in India?

Public sector operator Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL) is the first and only telco in India providing IPTV services. It rolled out IPTV early this month in Mumbai and Delhi. The original 26 channels it launched were free-to-air, while the new lineup includes premium subscription channels. It has not yet announced tariff plans, which will vary depending on the number of channels a user subscribes to and the use of premium services.

Who are the other telcos planning IPTV services?

Bharti Airtel is readying for launch while Reliance Communications has also been undertaking trials for IPTV for over a year now. BSNL is expected to roll it out by January next year. Since IPTV is delivered through landline connection, telcos like Hutchison Essar and Idea Cellular will not be able to offer the service right now as they do not have fixed line networks.

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