July 13, 2010

IPTV Series: An Introduction


Hostway Team

By Monique Martin

Television’s changing. Again. At least, the way TV content is delivered into your home is changing. IPTV is the latest system to shake up the TV landscape. Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) uses Internet Protocols, the same packet delivery system you use to view websites and send emails, to deliver high-quality television to your home. If you’ve watched a streamed TV show on your computer, you’ve seen firsthand the power of IPTV.

History of IPTV

The first use of IPTV dates back to the mid 1990s. It was originally used for live video conferencing and other Intranet applications. Precept Software created something called IP/TV that would allow Windows computers to view video broadcasts over the Internet. But it was an idea before its time. The idea of using the infrastructure of the Internet to deliver video content made sense, but it wasn’t practical. An experimental MBone (Multicast Backbone) was even created in an attempt to facilitate video multicasts, but the idea was ahead of the technology.

If you had a computer in the late 90s, you know that it wasn’t very powerful compared to today’s models. The PCs and the dial-up/telecom connections just couldn’t handle it. To make video seamless requires a fast connection and a computer that can handle it. Today’s PCs and the expansion of broadband connections have laid the groundwork for IPTV to come into its own.

IPTV Today

According to Parks Associates’ Online Video and Broadband Provider Strategies report, over 25 million households regularly watch hour long TV shows on the Internet, but they aren’t married to any one provider. That’s good news for IPTV, which takes viewing online content one step further.

IPTV makes the “idiot box” smart. Advances like TiVo, Video-on-Demand (VoD), and DVRs were steps in the right direction. Each gave the viewer more control over the programming they watch. IPTV takes all of that to the next level. It isn’t just about watching TV on your computer, it’s about fully integrating the ease of the Internet with the entertainment value and power of television.

AT&T’s U-verse offers subscribers bundled services (often called a triple-play) including high-speed Internet, digital phone and television. Using a set-top box, TVs are wired for Internet, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service and TV. Google’s soon to be released Google TV promises to take all of that a step further and offer truly integrated services.

IPTV is relatively young and is still suffering a few growing pains as a subscriber model. But, it’s poised, with services like Google TV, to change the way we watch TV. And, thanks to the two-way nature of the Internet, for the first time, TV will be watching us.

Come back tomorrow for the next article in this three-part series:

IPTV Series: What is Google TV?
IPTV Series: Segmented Advertising

About the Author

Monique Martin served as chief operating officer for a successful online insurance marketing firm for five years.

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