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Development of IPTV An Introduction to IPTV

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2.1 An introduction to IPTV

Ever wondered how TV over IP works? As AT&T continues to build


out its fiber network, IPTV will become an alternative to traditional cable
and satellite delivery methods. Here's your chance to learn how it works
and what's in the big fiber rollout for you.

IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is a system where a digital


television service is delivered 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 (when these three are offered
with mobility, the service is referred to as "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.

2.2 Television is changing

Over the last decade, the growth of satellite service, the rise of
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digital cable, and the birth of HDTV have all left their mark on the television
landscape. Now, a new delivery method threatens to shake things up even
more powerfully. Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) has arrived, and
backed by the deep pockets of the telecommunications industry, it's poised
to offer more interactivity and bring a hefty dose of competition to the
business of selling TV.

IPTV describes a system capable of receiving and displaying a


video stream encoded as a series of Internet Protocol packets. If you've
ever watched a video clip on your computer, you've used an IPTV system
in its broadest sense. When most people discuss IPTV, though, they're
talking about watching traditional channels on your television, where
people demand a smooth, high-resolution, lag-free picture, and it's the
telcos that are jumping headfirst into this market. Once known only as
phone companies, the telcos now want to turn a "triple play" of voice, data,
and video that will retire the side and put them securely in the batter's box.

In this primer, we'll explain how IPTV works and what the future
holds for the technology. Though IP can (and will) be used to deliver video
over all sorts of networks, including cable systems, we'll focus in this article
on the telcos, which are the most aggressive players in the game. They're
pumping billions into new fiber rollouts and backend infrastructure (AT&T
alone inked a US$400 million deal for Microsoft's IPTV Edition software
last year, for instance, and a US$1.7 billion deal with hardware maker
Alcatel). Why the sudden enthusiasm for the TV business? Because the
telcos see that the stakes are far higher than just some television:
companies that offer the triple play want to become your household's sole
communications link, and IPTV is a major part of that strategy.

2.3 History of IPTV


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IPTV is a system used to deliver digital television services to the


consumers who are registered subscribers for this system. This delivery of
digital television is made possible by using Internet Protocol over a
broadband connection, usually in a managed network rather than the
public Internet to preserve quality of service guarantees. Often, this service
is provided together with Video facility on demand. In addition to this, there
is provision to include Internet services such as web access and Voice
over Internet Protocol (VoIP). In cases when Internet service is also
provided, then it is known as Triple Play.

IPTV uses a Internet Protocol over broadband connection and very


often this service has been provided in parallel with the Internet connection
of the subscriber, supplied by an operator dealing with broadband. This is
done by using the same infrastructure but apparently over a dedicated
bandwidth allocation. Hence, it can be described as a system in which a
digital television service is provided to subscribing consumers over a
broadband connection using the Internet Protocol.

The history of IPTV states that, IPTV is basically a fusion of voice,


video, and data service. It is not a new idea or, rather, development, but it
is a result of high bandwidth and high speed Internet access. In earlier
days, the speed of the Internet did not suit the concept and, as a result, it
affected the voice and video services. In recent times, the speed of Internet
and bandwidth has increased considerably, making IPTV prevail and
become reasonably successful. Also, first generation Set Top Boxes were
prohibitively expensive. The technology costs now permit a viable business
model.

According to the history of IPTV, the year 1994, ABC's World News
was the first television show to be broadcasted over the Internet, using the
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CU-See Me 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
"IPTV". It was an MBONE compatible Windows and Unix based application
that moved single and multi-source audio or 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 overtaken by Cisco Systems in 1998. Cisco
retains the "IPTV" trademark.

Internet radio company Audio Net started the first continuous live
web casts with content from WFAA-TV in January, 1998 and KCTU-LP on
January 10, 1998.Kingston Communications, a regional
telecommunications operator in UK, launched KIT that is 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 as stated by the history of IPTV.
India's state-owned communications services provider, Mahanagar
Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) will reportedly offer Internet Protocol TV
services (IPTV) under the Tri-Band name, with trial services to soon start
pilot runs in New Delhi and Mumbai. India currently has no policy for IPTV
services, though the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has floated a
consultation paper and proposed an amendment to the country's Cable TV
Act to govern it.

If not today, then sometime soon, as per the history of IPTV, it will
become a big business. The incumbent telecom operators worldwide are
investing heavily in IPTV business. Infonetics Research, a Campbell,
California based research firm forecasts that there will be 68.9 million IPTV
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subscribers by 2009.Countries like India and China, which have little or
poor cable infrastructure are embracing IPTV, and so are European Union
members. So far, the big growth in subscribers and revenues is coming
overseas, especially in Europe.

2.4 IPTV Regulation

Historically Broadcast TV has been regulated differently than


Telecom and Internet. As IPTV allows TV and VOD to be transmitted over
IP networks new regulatory issues arise. Professor Eli M. Noam, highlights
in his report " TV or Not TV: Three Screens, One Regulation?" some of the
key challanges with sector specific regulation that is becomming obsolate
due to convergence in this field. To find out more about the issues go to
the Canadian Regulator and check out the report.

2.5 Definition

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 (MPTS) 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
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better program guide, interactive services etc.

The official definition approved by the International


Telecommunication Union focus group on IPTV (ITU-T FG IPTV) is as
follows:

"IPTV is 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."

2.6 Markets

While all major western countries and most developed economies


have IPTV deployments, the world's leading markets for IPTV for now are
France (led by Free, then Orange, then Neuf Cegetel; total of over 4 million
subscriptions), South Korea (1.8 million subscriptions), Hong Kong, Japan,
Italy, Spain, Belgium, China, Switzerland and Portugal. Services have also
launched in Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Scandinavia and, with
two competing players, Iceland. The United Kingdom launched IPTV early
but has been slow to grow. IPTV is just beginning to grow in Central and
Eastern Europe,now it is growing in South Asian countries such as Sri
Lanka, Pakistan and especially India.[8] but significant plans exist in
countries such as Poland and Russia.

The first IPTV service to launch on the Chinese mainland sells


under the "BesTV" brand and is currently available in the cities of Shanghai
and Harbin.
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2.7 IPTV and Internet TV

A telco IPTV service is usually delivered over a complex and


investment heavy walled garden network, which is carefully engineered to
ensure bandwidth efficient delivery of vast amounts of multicast video
traffic. The higher network quality also enables easy delivery of high quality
SD or HD TV content to subscribers’ homes. This makes IPTV by default
the preferred delivery platform for premium content. However the
investment for a telco to build an end-to-end IPTV service can be
substantial.

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.

Compared to telco IPTV, Internet TV is a quick-to-market and


relatively low investment service. Internet TV rides on existing
infrastructure including broadband, ADSL, Wi-Fi, cable and satellite which
makes it a valuable tool for a wide variety of service providers and content
owners looking for new revenue streams. However, due to the fact that
IPTV is always delivered over low cost IP STBs, which have limited
computing power, the capability for IPTV operators to provide diverse
multimedia services is limited. This is where Internet TV has an advantage
as it is delivered to a subscriber's (generally) powerful PC.
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The relative ease of establishing an Internet TV service seems at
first a threat to telco IPTV operators’ multimillion dollar investment, but both
services do not necessarily compete for the same customers and there are
some synergies between the two such as a common technology platform
in the form of web-based technologies for content storage and delivery.

Broadcast IPTV has two major architecture forms: free and fee
based. As of June 2006, there are over 1,300 free IPTV sources available.
This sector is growing rapidly and major television broadcasters worldwide
are transmitting their broadcast signal over the Internet. These free IPTV
sources require only an Internet connection and an Internet enabled device
such as a personal computer, HDTV connected to a computer or even a
3G cell/mobile phone to watch the IPTV content. Various Web portals offer
access to these free IPTV sources. Some cite the ad-sponsored availability
of TV series such as Lost as indicators that IPTV will become more
prevalent.

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 current coaxial cable. ISPs are upgrading
their networks to bring higher speeds and to allow multiple High Definition
TV channels.

IPTV uses a two-way digital broadcast signal sent through a


switched telephone or cable network by way of a broadband connection
and a set-top box programmed with software (much like a cable or DSS
box) that can handle viewer requests to access to many available media
sources.

Local IPTV, as used by businesses for Audio Visual AV distribution


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on their company networks is typically based on a mixture of: a)
Conventional TV reception equipment and IPTV encoders b) IPTV
Gateways that take broadcast MPEG channels and IP wrap them to create
multicast streams.

2.8 How it works

First things first: the venerable set-top box, on its way out in the
cable world, will make resurgence in IPTV systems. The box will connect to
the home DSL line and is responsible for reassembling the packets into a
coherent video stream and then decoding the contents. Your computer
could do the same job, but most people still don't have an always-on PC
sitting beside the TV, so the box will make a comeback. Where will the box
pull its picture from? To answer that question, let's start at the source.

Most video enters the system at the telco's national headend, where
network feeds are pulled from satellites and encoded if necessary (often in
MPEG-2, though H.264 and Windows Media are also possibilities). The
video stream is broken up into IP packets and dumped into the telco's core
network, which is a massive IP network that handles all sorts of other traffic
(data, voice, etc.) in addition to the video. Here the advantages of owning
the entire network from stem to stern (as the telcos do) really come into
play, since quality of service (QoS) tools can prioritize the video traffic to
prevent delay or fragmentation of the signal. Without control of the network,
this would be dicey, since QoS requests are not often recognized between
operators. With end-to-end control, the telcos can guarantee enough
bandwidth for their signal at all times, which is key to providing the "just
works" reliability consumers have come to expect from their television sets.
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The video streams are received by a local office, which has the job
of getting them out to the folks on the couch. This office is the place that
local content (such as TV stations, advertising, and video on demand) is
added to the mix, but it's also the spot where the IPTV middleware is
housed. This software stack handles user authentication, channel change
requests, billing, VoD requests, etc.—basically, all of the boring but
necessary infrastructure.

All the channels in the lineup are multicast from the national
headend to local offices at the same time, but at the local office, a
bottleneck becomes apparent. That bottleneck is the local DSL loop, which
has nowhere near the capacity to stream all of the channels at once. Cable
systems can do this, since their bandwidth can be in the neighborhood of
4.5Gbps, but even the newest ADSL2+ technology tops out at around
25Mbps (and this speed drops quickly as distance from the DSLAM [DSL
Access Multiplier] grows).

So how do you send hundreds of channels out to an IPTV


subscriber with a DSL line? Simple: you only send a few at a time. When a
user changes the channel on their set-top box, the box does not "tune" a
channel like a cable system. (There is in fact no such thing as "tuning"
anymore—the box is simply an IP receiver.) What happens instead is that
the box switches channels by using the IP Group Membership Protocol
(IGMP) v2 to join a new multicast group. When the local office receives this
request, it checks to make sure that the user is authorized to view the new
channel, then directs the routers in the local office to add that particular
user to the channel's distribution list. In this way, only signals that are
currently being watched are actually being sent from the local office to the
DSLAM and on to the user.

No matter how well-designed a network may be or how rigorous its


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QoS controls are, there is always the possibility of errors creeping into the
video stream. For unicast streams, this is less of an issue; the set-top box
can simply request that the server resend lost or corrupted packets. With
multicast streams, it is much more important to ensure that the network is
well-engineered from beginning to end, as the user's set-top box only
subscribes to the stream—it can make no requests for additional
information. To overcome this problem, multicast streams incorporate a
variety of error correction measures such as forward error correction
(FEC), in which redundant packets are transmitted as part of the stream.
Again, this is a case where owning the entire network is important since it
allows a company to do everything in its power to guarantee the safe
delivery of streams from one end of the network to the other without relying
on third parties or the public Internet.

Though multicast technology provides the answer to the problem of


pumping the same content out to millions of subscribers at the same time,
it does not help with features such as video on demand, which require a
unique stream to the user's home. To support VoD and other services, the
local office can also generate a unicast stream that targets a particular
home and draws from the content on the local VoD server. This stream is
typically controlled by the Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP), which
enables DVD-style control over a multimedia stream and allows users to
play, pause, and stop the program they are watching.

The actual number of simultaneous video streams sent from the


local office to the consumer varies by network, but is rarely more than four.
The reason is bandwidth. A Windows Media-encoded stream, for instance,
takes up 1.0 to 1.5Mbps for SDTV, which is no problem; ten channels
could be sent at once with bandwidth left over for voice and data. But when
HDTV enters the picture, it's a different story, and the 20-25Mbps capacity
of the line gets eaten up fast. At 1080i, HDTV bit rates using Windows
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Media are in the 7 to 8 Mbps range (rates for H.264 are similar). A quick
calculation tells you that a couple of channels are all that can be supported.

The bandwidth situation is even worse when you consider MPEG-2,


which has lower compression ratios. MPEG-2 streams will require almost
twice the space (3.5 Mbps for SDTV, 18-20 Mbps for HDTV), and the
increased compression found in the newer codecs is one reason that
AT&T will not use MPEG-2 in the rollout of its IPTV service dubbed "U-
verse."

Simultaneous delivery of channels is necessary to keep IPTV


competitive with cable. Obviously, multiple streams are needed to support
picture-in-picture, but they're also needed by DVRs, which can record one
show while a user is watching another. For IPTV to become a viable whole-
house solution, it will also need to support enough simultaneous channels
to allow televisions in different rooms to display different content, and
juggling resulting bandwidth issues is one of the trickiest parts of
implementing an IPTV network that will be attractive to consumers.

2.9 Time for a triple play

How big will the IPTV market be? Multimedia Research Group
estimates that IPTV subscribers will balloon from 3.7 million in 2005 to 36.9
million by 2009 (worldwide), with Europe leading the market. The industry's
revenues could reach nearly US$10 billion by that time—no small chunk of
change. Still, the battle is for more than just your television; it's a struggle
for the single entry point into your home.

The so-called "triple play" of voice, video, and data is currently a


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holy grail for the telcos, who need to compete with the cable companies,
which already offer all three services. With both telcos and cable providers
offering the triple play, it's likely that consumers will soon need only a
single data pipe flowing into their home (and bundle discounts will ensure
that this is the cheapest way to do things). Whichever pipe that turns out to
be—cable or telephone line—will mean big money for the company that
owns it.

IPTV provides the missing piece that the telcos need, but the cable
companies, for their part, are talking tough. "AT&T is spending years and
billions of dollars to imitate a network that Comcast has already built," said
spokesman Andrew Johnson. "We've seen nothing... that we can't
exceed." Despite the posturing, both industries see this as an important
transition time during which they need to sell customers on the merits of
one-stop shopping for their communication and entertainment needs.
Hopefully, the battle of words will soon give way to the price war that
satellite could not fully spark, in which case IPTV, if it does nothing else,
will have succeeded.

2.10 Protocols

IPTV covers both live TV (multicasting) as well as stored video


(Video on Demand VOD). The playback of IPTV requires either a personal
computer or a set-top box connected to a TV. Video content is typically
compressed using either a MPEG-2 or a MPEG-4 codec and then sent in
an MPEG transport stream delivered via IP Multicast in case of live TV or
via IP Unicast in case of Video on Demand. IP Multicast is a method in
which information can be sent to multiple computers at the same time. The
newly released (MPEG-4) H.264 codec is increasingly used to replace the
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older MPEG-2 codec.

In standards-based IPTV systems, the primary underlying protocols


used are:

 Live TV uses IGMP version 2 or IGMP version 3 for IPv4 for


connecting to a multicast stream (TV channel) and for changing
from one multicast stream to another (TV channel change).
 VOD is using the Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP).
 N-PVR (Network-based Personal Video Recorder) is also
using the Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP).

Network Personal Video Recording is a consumer service where


real-time broadcast television is captured in the network on a server
allowing the end user to access the recorded programs on the schedule of
their choice, rather than being tied to the broadcast schedule. The NPVR
system provides time-shifted viewing of broadcast programs, allowing
subscribers to record and watch programs at their convenience, without the
requirement of a truly personal PVR device. It could be compared as a
"PVR that is built into the network" -- however that would be slightly
misleading unless the word "Personal" is, of course, changed to "Public"
for this context.

Subscribers can choose from the programmes available in the


network-based library, when they want, without needing yet another device
or remote control. However, many people would still prefer to have their
own PVR device, as it would allow them to choose exactly what they want
to record. This bypasses the strict copyright and licensing regulations, as
well as other limitations, that often prevent the network itself from providing
"on demand" access to certain programmes (see Heroes, below).
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In Greece, On Telecoms offers an NPVR service to all subscribers
in their basic package with all the programming of all major national Greek
TV channels for the last 72 hours. The user has to sign in their contract
that they agree that the company will record national programming of the
last 72 hours FOR them so that they can come around any legal
implications (like the ones mentioned here) as this service would work like
a personal PVR.

Currently, the only alternatives to IPTV are traditional TV distribution


technologies such as terrestrial, satellite and cable. However, cable can be
upgraded to two-way capability and can thus also carry IPTV.

2.11 Advantages

The IP-based platform offers significant advantages, including the


ability to integrate television with other IP-based services like high speed
Internet access and VoIP.

A switched IP network also allows for the delivery of significantly


more content and functionality. In a typical TV or satellite network, using
broadcast video technology, all the content constantly flows downstream to
each customer, and the customer switches the content at the set-top box.
The customer can select from as many choices as the telecomms, cable or
satellite company can stuff into the “pipe” flowing into the home. A switched
IP network works differently. Content remains in the network, and only the
content the customer selects is sent into the customer’s home. That frees
up bandwidth, and the customer’s choice is less restricted by the size of
the “pipe” into the home. This also implies that the customer's privacy
could be compromised to a greater extent than is possible with traditional
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TV or satellite networks. It may also provide a means to hack into, or at
least disrupt (see Denial of Service) the private network.

Interactivity

An IP-based platform also allows significant opportunities to make


the TV viewing experience more interactive and personalized. The supplier
may, for example, include an interactive program guide that allows viewers
to search for content by title or actor’s name, or a picture-in-picture
functionality that allows them to “channel surf” without leaving the program
they’re watching. Viewers may be able to look up a player’s stats while
watching a sports game, or control the camera angle. They also may be
able to access photos or music from their PC on their television, use a
wireless phone to schedule a recording of their favorite show, or even
adjust parental controls so their child can watch a documentary for a
school report, while they’re away from home.

Note that this is all possible, to some degree, with existing digital
terrestrial, satellite and cable networks in tandem with modern set top
boxes. In order that there can take place an interaction between the
receiver and the transmitter a feedback channel is needed. Due to this
terrestrial, satellite and cable networks for television does not allow
interactivity. However, interactivity with those networks can be possible in
the combination with different networks like internet or a mobile
communication network.

VoD

VoD stands for Video on Demand. VoD permits a customer to


browse an online programme or film catalogue, to watch trailers and to
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then select a selected recording for playback. The playout of the selected
movie starts nearly instantaneously on the customer's TV or PC.

Technically, when the customer selects the movie, a point-to-point


unicast connection is set up between the customer's decoder (SetTopBox
or PC) and the delivering streaming server. The signalling for the trick play
functionality (pause, slow-motion, wind/rewind etc.) is assured by RTSP
(Real Time Streaming Protocol).

The most common codecs used for VoD are MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and
VC-1.

In an attempt to avoid content piracy, the VoD content is usually


encrypted. Whilst encryption of satellite and cable TV broadcasts is an old
practice, with IPTV technology it can effectively be thought of as a form of
Digital Rights Management. A film that is chosen, for example, may be
playable for 24 hours following payment, after which time it becomes
unavailable.

IPTV based Converged Services

Another advantage of an IP-based network is the opportunity for


integration and convergence. This opportunity is amplified when using IMS-
based solutions. Converged services implies interaction of existing
services in a seamless manner to create new value added services. One
good example is On-Screen Caller ID, getting Caller ID on your TV and the
ability to handle it (send it to voice mail, etc). IP-based services will help to
enable efforts to provide consumers anytime-anywhere access to content
over their televisions, PCs and cell phones (for example see
http://www.ericsson.com/campaign/televisionary/), and to integrate
services and content to tie them together. Within businesses and
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institutions, IPTV eliminates the need to run a parallel infrastructure to
deliver live and stored video services.

2.12 Limitations

IPTV is sensitive to packet loss and delays if the streamed data is


unreliable. IPTV has strict minimum speed requirements in order to
facilitate the right number of frames per second to deliver moving pictures.
This means that the limited connection speed/bandwidth available for a
large IPTV customer base can reduce the service quality delivered.

Although a few countries have very high speed broadband-enabled


populations, such as South Korea with 6 million homes benefiting from a
minimum connection speed of 100Mbps, in other countries (such as the
UK) legacy networks struggle to provide 3-5Mbps and so simultaneous
provision to the home of TV channels, VOIP and Internet access may not
be viable. The last mile delivery for IPTV usually has a bandwidth
restriction that only allows a small number of TV channels – typically from
one to three – to be delivered.

The same problem has also proved troublesome when attempting to


stream IPTV across wireless links within the home. Improvements in
wireless technology are now starting to provide equipment to solve the
problem.

Latency

The latency inherent in the use of satellite internet is often held up


as reason why satellites cannot be successfully used for IPTV, but in
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practice latency is not an important factor for IPTV. An IPTV service does
not require real-time transmission, as is the case with telephony or
videoconferencing services.

It is the latency of response to requests to change channel, display


an EPG, etc that most affects customers’ perceived quality of service, and
these problems affect satellite IPTV no more than terrestrial IPTV. Indeed,
command latency problems, faced by terrestrial IPTV networks with
insufficient bandwidth as their customer base grows, may be solved by the
high capacity of satellite distribution.

Satellite distribution does suffer from latency – the time for the signal
to travel up from the hub to the satellite and back down to the user is
around 0.25 seconds, and cannot be reduced. However, the effects of this
delay are mitigated in real-life systems using data compression, TCP-
acceleration, and HTTP pre-fetching.

Satellite latency can be detrimental to especially time-sensitive


applications such as on-line gaming (although it only seriously affects the
likes of first-person shooters while many MMOGs can operate well over
satellite internet), but IPTV is typically a simplex operation (one-way
transmission) and latency is not a critical factor for video transmission.

Existing video transmission systems of both analogue and digital


formats already introduce known quantifiable delays. Indeed, existing DVB
TV channels that simulcast by both terrestrial and satellite transmissions,
experience the same 0.25s delay difference between the two services with
no detrimental effect, and it goes unnoticed by viewers.

Privacy implications
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AS IPTv is a two way protocol the ISP knows which program is
being watched.

2.13 Vendors

A small number of companies supply most current IPTV systems.


Some, such as Imagenio, were formed by telecoms operators themselves,
to minimise external costs, a tactic also used by PCCW of Hong Kong.
Some major telecoms vendors are also active in this space, notably
Huawei of China (IPTV Solution) Alcatel-Lucent (sometimes working with
Imagenio), Ericsson (notably since acquiring Tandberg Television), NEC,
Thomson, Logic Innovations, and ZTE, as are some IT houses, led by
Microsoft. California-based UTStarcom, Inc., Tennessee-based Worley
Consulting and Tokyo-based The New Media Group also offer end-to-end
networking infrastructure for IPTV-based services, and Hong Kong-based
BNS Ltd. provides turnkey open platform IPTV technology solutions. Global
sales of IPTV systems exceeded 2 billion USD in 2007.

Many of these IPTV solution vendors participated in the biennial


Global MSF Interoperability 2008 (GMI) event which was coordinated by
the MultiService Forum (MSF) at five sites worldwide from 20- to 31-
October 2008. Test equipment vendors including Empirix, Ixia, Mu
Dynamics and Spirent joined solution vendors such as the companies
listed above in one of the largest IPTV proving grounds ever deployed.