When we talk about online streaming, there are many terms we come across, IPTV being one of them. We are experiencing a paradigm shift from traditional modes of broadcasting like cable or satellite TV towards internet based streaming and, IPTV as a system has a major role to play in this transitional phase. Customers essentially don’t care much about owning the content as much as they care about accessing content. This is where IPTV comes into the picture. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly IPTV is, how it works & it’s architecture, the types of IPTV services and the future of IPTV.
What is IPTV?
IPTV refers to Internet-based Protocol Television where internet is used to deliver TV programs & Videos that are either live or on demand. IPTV is a system where digital television service is delivered to the subscriber through Internet protocol technology via the medium of broadband or internet connection.
It is slightly different from digital video that is accessed by millions of users on sites or apps like YouTube or Netflix, but it shares quite a bit of the same ubiquitous, pervasive nature. Also unlike standard cable or satellite connection, in IPTV multiple TV sets can use a single subscription within a home.
IPTV gives the viewers the added advantage and convenience of being able to pick the program they want to watch whenever and wherever they feel like watching it apart from tuning into any Live TV shows that are being aired currently.
To understand how IPTV is different from traditional TV, let’s compare traditional mode of viewing TV with IPTV –
Cable and satellite both function by enabling users to “tune in” to specific channels within that signal and the fundamental difference is that cable is via a wired connection whereas satellite is wireless (until it reaches your house, anyway). A prime example of Cable TV is Time Warner Cable that is delivered via coaxial cable connection and an example of Satellite TV is from providers like DirecTV that is transmitted and delivered to the viewers via radio waves.
IPTV uses Internet protocol (IP) based network to deliver TV channels to users’ set-top box. Internet networks differ from cable and satellite by offering content through the same client-server model that renders email, websites and other Internet-based services. As we will see mentioned further in this blog, IP or Internet Protocol is the language that is used for transferring data packets between computers attached to the internet network.
The consumer requests and receives TV Shows and Video content is delivered to the viewer via Internet Protocol (IP) based networks instead of cable or satellite. Unlike cable or satellite where content is broadcast in real time, on a transmit and forget the model, IPTV has the ability to store the programming on servers at transmitting end, allowing users to request the content over the Internet at any time.
How does IPTV work?
IPTV is much similar like browsing the internet than traditional channel surfing. It merely uses IP (Internet Protocol), a transport protocol which is a delivery mechanism to deliver the videos to the viewer. When the viewer clicks on any TV program or requests the video, video from different sources (servers) is divided into data packets and sent over the internet. Video servers transmit programs through fiber-optic cable to existing household via internet connection and requests are sent out and shows are sent back.
Depending on the network architecture of the service provider, there are two main types of IPTV architecture that can be considered for IPTV deployment: centralized and distributed.
The centralized architecture model is a relatively simple and easy to manage solution. Because all media content is stored on centralized servers, it does not require a comprehensive content distribution system. Centralized architecture is generally good for a network that provides relatively small VOD service deployment, has an adequate core and edge bandwidth and has an efficient content delivery network (CDN).
Distributed architecture is just as scalable as the centralized model, however, it has bandwidth usage advantages and inherent system management features that are essential for managing a larger server network. Operators who plan to deploy a relatively large system should, therefore, consider implementing a distributed architecture model right from the start. Distributed architecture requires intelligent and sophisticated content distribution technologies to augment effective delivery of multimedia contents over service provider’s network.