Internet Protocol Television or IPTV is a video broadcasting technology that can deliver video content through a computer network. IPTV no longer uses media such as cable or satellite radio to deliver content, but uses a converged IP network, which allows other services such as VoIP, computer data exchange or Internet access to be used from the same network. IPTV is very suitable for the concept of the Internet of Things and other ITC trends.
Although based on the IP protocol (which has now become the backbone of data supply for almost all connected devices we use today), IPTV is indeed open and can support new devices and integrate with various services. These two facts make it easy for IPTV to meet audience expectations, meet the recommendations of market experts, and enable IT staff to integrate and maintain solutions without too much effort. IPTV is a relatively widespread technology that can be found in hotels, homes, ships, and even airplanes, and is usually available from triple-play service packages provided by Internet service providers.
In the past two decades, several industries, such as hotels or telecommunications, are investing in the development of Internet Protocol TV or IPTV broadcasting technology. In addition to making video content delivery on computer networks a reality without the need to weigh trade-offs, these industries also have convenient revenue-generating tools that allow customers to enjoy better levels of service. Based on the IP protocol, IPTV can integrate television rights into the digital realm where the Internet of Things, social networks, content hosting services and other popular web-based services exist.
IPTV can be used on PCs and TVs with set-top boxes at first, but after WEB and mobile applications become the mainstream of IPTV solutions, IPTV is truly cross-platform. Web players and mobile applications have introduced real-time TV and video-on-demand to many devices, from smart phones and tablets to smart TVs, laptops, handheld computers, etc. Today, IPTV is a well-known technology with a firm foothold and will continue to maintain its leading position. As more and more providers, homes and hotels upgrade their TV systems, define the driving force of the audience experience.
Media broadcasting solutions have undergone several transformations, whether it is transitioning from old technology to new technology, upgrading to the next generation or enhancing existing standards. From analog TV to CATV, HybridTV, IPTV and OTT, media broadcasting has been extensively improved to support 3D, 4K, 5.1 sound and more. So far, IPTV technology has made the most outstanding achievements. This technology allows telecom operators, hotel operators and media content owners to use the Internet protocol that has changed almost every aspect of our lives.
IPTV stands for Internet Protocol Television, which means that users receive video content through a computer network. The convergence and diversity of IPTV technology enable it to develop into OTT or Internet TV, so that media broadcasting truly becomes a global media. But the real reason why IPTV is so successful is the technology based on IPTV, which allows the use of Metro-e, LAN (including Wi-Fi network) and other existing infrastructure to deploy solutions.
IPTV does not necessarily need to invest in infrastructure like traditional cable television. Many cities have Metro-e equipped with dark optical fibers, and many buildings have been equipped with LANs suitable for IPTV. As long as the connected host is interested in real-time video and on-demand video content, every owner of the network can easily profit from it.
IPTV aims to reduce the cost of media broadcasting solution integration, increase profitability and introduce a series of services that have never been seen before in broadcasting technology. IPTV does not require too many specific hardware, small ISPs, hotels, yachts, etc. can afford it.
To be fair, the definition of IPTV is a dynamic thing, because every IPTV solution is based on various underlying technologies and is constantly enhanced with new features. Compared with today, IPTV in the 2000s is a world of difference, because most IPTV solutions now turn conventional TVs into media centers with many additional functions.
IPTV was first introduced in the 1990s. It is a way of transmitting video through a computer network. Efficient video compression algorithms and reliable packet transfer protocols make the technology robust enough to develop professional solutions and use them in commercial installations.
Precept Software’s MBONE application may be the first solution that can transmit video in unicast or multicast, and the first solution to use the term “IP/TV”. Several subsequent webcast solutions gave the green light to OTT and IPTV solutions. By the end of the 1990s, this technology had attracted the attention of ISPs, telecommunications companies and service providers. The live TV and video-on-demand services provided in the IPTV service package have become a lucrative business and have invested heavily in the industry.
In addition to the ISP scheme mentioned by NGC in the above quote, IPTV services are also applicable to many other schemes.
Residential – houses, hotels, villages, apartments, residential areas and accommodation groups. This type of IPTV installation is usually deployed as a “triple play” service over a single cable. Many subscription-based IPTV services are delivered over the local Metro-e network, requiring users to obtain only a set-top box and connect it to their home ISP router.
Companies – Education, infotainment and dedicated TV channels enrich the company’s media life and allow companies to own their own mass media, which can also be private and used to keep sensitive information in a secure corporate IT infrastructure.
Business – IPTV and OTT subscription service providers, telecom service providers, Metro-e local networks or owners of building-wide networks are good examples. These companies should only use IPTV solutions to make money. Using cloud-based IPTV servers and client applications for mobile platforms, subscription-based IPTV services can be started with a reasonable amount of investment.
Transportation – Passengers of trains, buses, cruise ships and airplanes always seek entertainment during long-distance travel. IPTV helps to provide live TV, on-demand video, in-car shopping, travel information, important announcements and other infotainment on a single screen, helping passengers to relieve stress and maintain a happy mood.
Head to head terminal system – including broadcast service components with related redundancy and management functions. These components include all the equipment needed for content extraction, encoding, packaging and encryption, as well as DVB data extraction components.
Edge-QAM subsystem – for deployment by cable operators.
Content Management System – Enables content providers and operators to self-manage the entire content life cycle, from offline coding to ingestion and metadata management, pricing, packaging, bundling, marketing activities, and distribution and storage management. The CMS solution is a collection of integrated components, covering the life cycle functions required by all content types.
Content protection: Conditional Access (CA)/Digital Rights Management (DRM)-a set of integrated components, covering all aspects of content encryption/decryption. Tight integration is required between all solution components and CA/DRM vendor components
Video-on-demand (VOD) server and back-end system – the video (or streaming) server is responsible for pushing content through IP through standardized protocols. The integration of streaming server with headend, CA, middleware and content management is required.
Video service middleware platform – the central IPTV component, which carries all the business logic of the IPTV service, and is responsible for the interface and management of all solution components and players-such as the underlying network, front-end, CA, video server, and old back-end systems (for example, OSS, BSS, customer relationship management [CRM]), content management system (CMS), integrated access device (IAD), set-top box (STB) and end users
Transmission and access network – its characteristics and functions depend largely on the level of service delivered to the end user. This network is an integrated part of the entire end-to-end video solution and should be considered during the entire strategic planning, design and deployment process.
Customer premises equipment: Residential Gateway (RG)/IAD and STB-RG/IAD enables operators to perform end-user configuration and home device management. STB is the main component that the end user interacts with. STB usually interfaces with middleware through native client or web browser.
Content provider : Content owner, Provide content as: stream, file, tape, etc.
Service Providers : Provide IPTV service, Ingest and protect the IPTV content of the network provider. Provide streams from service providers to customers
Customer : Choose and consume content, Pay the bill
A typical configuration will include media streaming, middleware servers, video on demand, etc. The head end can communicate through a dedicated switch or directly through the local network. The client device will receive service information from the middleware server through the IP network, and receive video from the media streaming and video-on-demand server.
In addition to deploying dedicated servers internally, you can also choose to deploy IPTV solutions in the cloud. One can simply connect an uplink switch to the local network to provide an IPTV service of the same quality as the IPTV service provided from the local server. Cloud infrastructure is even more popular because it makes it easier to virtualize and replicate the entire solution between different data centers, and to ensure that a site cannot use a virtual IPTV server will not cause the entire system to stop and lose profits.
The biggest practical advantage of cloud installation is that new users can start IPTV business with very little investment and pay as the business grows. For example, a hotel can simply buy a smart TV, install Ethernet or use an existing TV, and subscribe to a cloud-based IPTV service delivered to the hotel via the Internet. As long as the cloud and hotel LAN uplinks are available and there are no speed fluctuations, guests will not notice any difference.
Despite the need for additional investment, even for cloud-based solutions, set-top boxes are still preferred to simplify upcoming upgrades and achieve better content delivery.
Using IPTV set-top boxes, any TV can become a media entertainment center
IPTV is not only about live TV broadcasting or video on demand. The complete list of services with descriptions cannot accommodate multiple pages. According to ITU, there are some services listed here and they welcome all contributors to edit this list, which means more than what ITU lists:
Linear/Broadcast TV (audio, video and data) Linear broadcast TV in trick mode Multi-angle service Time Shift TV Pay Per View (PPV) Video on Demand (VOD) Near-on-demand (video-on-demand) broadcast Real video Download-based video content distribution service (Push VOD) Content download service PVR service (network-based or client-based) Interactive TV (iTV) Consumer-sourced content (videos, etc. and applications) Consumer-sourced broadcast television (eg C2C hosting) Linear broadcast audio MoD (music on demand), including audiobooks image T-Learning (education, language and real estate for children, elementary, middle and high school students, etc.) Games Regulatory Information Service T information (news, weather, traffic and advertising, etc.) T-commerce (security, banking, inventory, shopping, auctions and order delivery, etc.) T communication (email, instant messaging, SMS, channel chat, VoIP, Web, multiple video conferences and video calls, etc.) T Entertainment (photo albums, games, karaoke and blogs, etc.) Field Service advertising News Service information (EPG: Electronic Program Guide, ECG: Electronic Content Guide, etc.) Portal service Hybrid service Third-party content services.
There are two good reasons for the rapid development of IPTV, and many vendors have developed their own solutions. People are watching TV, many people. Although video hosting sites have successfully replaced pay-TV providers and become part of the video broadcasting market, most premium content is still available from subscription-based services. IPTV makes the viewer’s experience richer and truly interactive, so anyone who has tried high-quality IPTV services will never return to regular TV.
The availability of high-quality video content, including customized viewer choice-driven content available on a variety of devices, makes IPTV services a unique form of entertainment and makes classic TV an outdated experience. Witnessing the fierce competition among service providers, users of IPTV services can expect to provide flexible prices, even better content and other features, which will continue to improve their experience.
Any family that can access the Internet can access IPTV services. Generally, there are many providers locally, not to mention global operators that provide OTT services roughly the same as IPTV. The latest leaps in IPTV, OTT and mobile network technologies make IPTV services accessible even on mobile screens, which will be smartphones with LTE connectivity or tablets connected to Wi-Fi.
IPTV systems can be equipped almost anywhere, buildings, vehicles, ships and even airplanes. All that is needed is to install a TV with an external set-top box or smart TV and allow an IP network to connect to them. In some cases, Wi-Fi can be used instead of Ethernet cables, leaving some options when cables are not available.
IPTV is an entertainment technology, so as long as people have time to watch entertainment activities such as on-demand TV or movies on a regular basis, IPTV will come in handy. But IPTV not only involves video content, there are many options to add additional services, such as on-demand music, personal video recorders, Internet on the TV screen, social applications, games, communication programs, and video chats.
The IPTV system is a set of hardware devices and software interconnected through a computer network, designed to provide video content to viewers. Streaming media, encoders, middleware, video on demand, time shifting and other components together form a well-balanced system that provides IPTV services to thousands of users through local Metro-e networks, FTTh cables and even mobile devices LTE and WCDMA networks.
The IPTV system has two sides, one is visible to the administrator, and the other is visible to the user. Administrators must manage the receiving equipment up to the satellite antenna to ensure good signal quality, and they must keep the solution up to date, secure and perform well. Users can only see the IPTV system from the perspective of the client device, and their experience mainly depends on the design quality of the system. It also requires the degree to which the administrator maintains the solution.
In addition to technical issues, you must also pay attention to local legal requirements, which sometimes do affect certain parts of the IPTV system. For example, in advanced economies, law enforcement regulations for copyright protection take conditional access systems very seriously, and from content providers to IPTV service providers, network providers and client devices, such access must always Integrated together.
All in all, the IPTV system is very complex. It must be designed with the best practices of system architecture design and software development methods while complying with all legal requirements to make it efficient and reliable. Please find a more detailed description of the IPTV system in the article Comparison of IPTV TV System with Cable, Satellite and OTT.
Most IPTV servers host Linux OS with installed IPTV specific applications.
Media streaming This part usually controls access to media content from cable, satellite or antenna, AV or HDMI encoder and IP stream. The received content is then routed to an IP address as an IP data packet, and the client device can receive the content from the IP address. According to the signal type and streaming media specifications, the streaming media can filter PID, decrypt or process the content in other ways.
Middleware This is the location from which the client device obtains its service information. This will include a list of channels for specific tariffs, EPG information, available content and services.
Video on demand The VoD server is used to store media files such as movies and video clips. It must provide secure access to stored content based on the content that is allowed to specific users.
Other applications The IP network used by IPTV has an immeasurable diversity of devices. These devices may become very unstable and cannot change from a normal working state to a complete denial of service. To prevent service unavailability, various background services are monitoring the quality of service to warn administrators of possible problems before users notice certain problems and start complaining about technical support.
All IPTV server applications communicate with each other and with client devices to form an IPTV system. A common sequence for retrieving video streams includes client devices that are authenticated on the middleware server and have a subscription plan attached. Then, the middleware sends a list of channels and other content that are allowed to be accessed under certain conditions, such as balance, tariff plan, purchased or rented movies, etc.
When the user selects a channel or clicks a movie, the client device will request a video stream from the IPTV server. Then, an IP packet stream with encoded video, audio, subtitles and other information is transmitted through one of the network protocols. The client device only needs to decode the information and display it on the screen, through dynamic playback, etc.
Sometimes, the process is a little more complicated, especially if the conditional access system is protecting the content. But from the user’s point of view, this will not affect the experience, and the client device will decrypt the content in real time while it is downstream.
Hotels, homes, telecom operators, marine vessels and yachts usually deploy physical IPTV servers in their premises. For some of these devices, you can reduce or completely get rid of field devices and use the cloud instead. But for most installations, it is best to use a physical server at this time. In order to obtain better performance and reduce the cost of Internet connection, it is preferred to deploy all IPTV installations in the local network and connect the physical IPTV server to the core switch of the network. Especially with the help of signal sources available in the network data center, it is the easiest way to directly connect to an IPTV server without using a virtual cloud.
Providers seeking complete control of their IPTV services will need to install IPTV servers. Certain installations must be independent, such as installations on sea vessels, cruise ships, yachts, airplanes, trains, etc. Since the hosting vehicle is on the move, there may not be an option to achieve reliable communication with the remote server site at a reasonable cost. In order to obtain a better response time for technical support, it is more advisable to install an IPTV server whose installation distance cannot enable engineers to quickly solve the problem.
Since IPTV is designed to replace classic broadcast solutions, it must be compatible with TV sets that customers already own to speed up the transition from the old technology. By enhancing the interactivity of IPTV services, users should have the same viewer experience. The easiest way is to develop a set-top box, which is basically a small computer that can receive, decode and display real-time video content on the TV while providing additional services such as video on demand, time-shifted TV, auxiliary applications, web browsing, Social networks etc.
Set-top boxes differ in terms of hardware, operating system platform, and supported client applications. The main problem that IPTV providers must solve is how to make the STB and the client application installed on it run reliably, and minimize the channel switching delay as much as possible, and there is no image or sound jitter. Only trusted IPTV solution providers (such as Nevron) have sufficient resources and expertise to develop and support such set-top boxes.
When the user wants to watch ordinary TV, he clicks on the remote control, and the receiver will tune to the frequency of the channel or start to decode certain PIDs in case the channel is digital broadcast. From the user’s point of view, IPTV works on the same principle, clicking on the remote control or clicking the same button on the screen will cause the user to go to the channel he wants to watch. But there is no receiver in the IPTV client device, just like a regular device in a TV. Instead, an IP session is initiated between the IPTV server and the client device.
The client device receives channel list information from the IPTV server, and this data is usually provided by middleware. Such a channel list is a table containing channel name, logo image link, channel description, and most importantly URL or IP address, from which a stream with channel video, audio and subtitles is sent. IPTV links are similar to links that appear in the address bar of a web browser, except that sometimes they refer to a protocol other than http, and may include an IP address and port.