IPTV stands for Internet Protocol TV. Simply put, it’s a means of delivering TV programming through the Internet as opposed to cable or satellite TV broadcasts.
The Internet Protocol that is used to deliver TV content is the same as that used for data transmission over the Internet.
As such TV shows can be accessed through smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, and computers. In short, any device that supports an Internet connection is capable of supporting IPTV if a particular service allows it.
Among the comprehensive range of programming supported by IPTV are live TV, on-demand movies, and also TV shows. On top of that, video-on-demand (VOD) and time-shifted programming are available.
Time-shifted programming in IPTV allows you to watch a TV show at a different time, other than the time when it was originally broadcast.
For example, you can watch a 4 pm show at 7 pm after returning from work. You don’t have to wait for a rerun of the program.
This is made possible through pause, rewind, and fast-forward functions available on the IPTV set-top box.
IPTV is not a recent invention. It has been around since the 1990s. It has its origins in streaming video.
The earliest attempts at streaming video were undertaken with such technologies as RealVideo and QuickTime.
The groundwork was laid, but IPTV didn’t take off until the early 2000s. This was after broadband Internet became available to the masses.
IPTV then was seen as a serious contender to traditional cable and satellite television services.
Early IPTV Attempts
One of the earliest examples of IPTV was the deployment of AT&T’s Homezone service in 2002.
A limited number of channels through a set-top box with an Internet connection were provided to subscribers.
Other companies, soon jumped on the bandwagon, offering their IPTV packages. Among them were Verizon’s FiOS TV and BT’s BT Vision in the UK.
The late 2000s and early 2010s saw the emergence of streaming video platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.
They were instrumental in fuelling the adoption of IPTV.
Today, IPTV is a popular alternative to traditional cable and satellite television. The number of providers has increased tremendously, each providing various packages and services.
Advantages of IPTV
IPTV has certain advantages as stated below:
Consumers have a wider choice of shows to watch.
Apart from live TV, programming options available include video on demand (VOD) and movies on demand. Consumers get to choose what content they want to watch. They are not bound by a limited number of channels as with cable and satellite TV.
TV viewing is more pleasurable with a host of interactive features.
Access to on-demand shows is one thing. Viewers also get to use VCR-like features like rewinding, fast-forwarding and pausing.
This puts more control into the hands of viewers.
Superior Picture Quality
Viewers get to watch high-definition (HD) content and also 4K (UHD) ultra high-definition quality video.
You save more with IPTV services compared to cable or satellite TV packages.
You get to subscribe to the content that interests you.
In other words, you get to adjust your viewing choices according to your budget.
You don’t need to be tied to your living room to watch your favorite TV shows.
IPTV is available through any device that connects to the Internet.
This would include computers, smartphones and tablets, and TV boxes.
You may also use streaming devices like a Roku or Amazon Fire Stick to view IPTV content.
This gives you the power to watch shows on the go, especially if you often hit the road.
Despite IPTV’s advantages over cable and satellite TV, there are some drawbacks that you need to take into consideration.
Internet Connection Charges
You may have to pay separately for Internet charges. IPTV requires broadband Internet. That may cost quite a bit in your country.
Unless you’re using the Internet for work or studying, signing up for an Internet connection just to watch IPTV, isn’t a wise move.
But then some Internet services offer IPTV services bundled with your Internet subscription.
If such a package is available, then you should opt for it if it comes with an attractive cost.
Internet Connection Stability
The enjoyment of IPTV services is dependent on a stable Internet connection.
You must always be connected to the Internet. Your Internet speed must always be consistent.
If your Internet service is disrupted for some reason, you don’t get to enjoy IPTV services.
Additional Equipment Cost
Certain types of IPTV services may need you to buy additional equipment. Most popular IPTV services would work with your Smart TV apps.
In some instances, you may need to buy a TV box to watch IPTV services.
Limited Content Availability
Certain content available over cable and satellite TV may not be available over IPTV. So, you would have to check if your favorite shows could be watched over Internet TV.
Satellite and cable TV stations may not want to license some popular shows to other services.
Since IPTV relies on the Internet, hackers may get hold of personal information if you’re not careful. So, you’ve to take the necessary measures to ensure that IPTV and Internet connections are secure.
IPTV and Internet Video: Expanding the Reach of Television Broadcasting
By Wes Simpson, Howard Greenfield