Internet Protocol television (IPTV) is a system through which television services are delivered using the Internet protocol suite over a packet-switched network such as a LAN or the Internet, instead of being delivered through traditional terrestrial, satellite signal, and cable television formats. Unlike downloaded media, IPTV offers the ability to stream the media in smaller batches, directly from the source. As a result, a client media player can begin playing the data (such as a movie) before the entire file has been transmitted. This is known as streaming media.
IPTV services may be classified into three main groups:
- Live television, with or without interactivity related to the current TV show;
- Time-shifted television: catch-up TV (replays a TV show that was broadcast hours or days ago), start-over TV (replays the current TV show from its beginning);
- Video on demand (VOD): browse a catalog of videos, not related to TV programming.
IPTV is distinguished from Internet television by its ongoing standardization process (e.g., European Telecommunications Standards Institute) and preferential deployment scenarios in subscriber-based telecommunications networks with high-speed access channels into end-user premises via set-top boxes or other customer-premises equipment.
Historically, many different definitions of IPTV have appeared, including elementary streams over IP networks, transport streams over IP networks and a number of proprietary systems.
One official definition approved by the International Telecommunication Union focus group on IPTV (ITU-T FG IPTV) is:
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.
The technology was hindered by low broadband penetration and by the relatively high cost of installing wiring capable of transporting IPTV content reliably in the customer's home. However, residential IPTV was expected to grow as broadband was available to more than 200 million households worldwide in 2005.
In December 2009, the FCC began looking into using set-top boxes to make TVs with cable or similar services into network video players. FCC Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake had said earlier that TV and the Internet would soon be the same, but only 75 percent of homes had computers, while 99 percent had TV. A 2009 Nielsen survey found 99 percent of video viewing was done on TV.
Services also launched in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Canada, Croatia, Lithuania, Moldova, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Mongolia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, the Netherlands, Georgia, Greece, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Latvia, Turkey, Colombia, Chile and Uzbekistan. The United Kingdom launched IPTV early and after a slow initial growth, in February 2009 BT announced that it had reached 398,000 subscribers to its BT Vision service. Claro has launched their own IPTV service called "Claro TV". This service is available in several countries in which they operate, such as Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua. IPTV is just beginning to grow in Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America, and now it is growing in South Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, Pakistan and especially India. but significant plans exist in countries such as Russia. Kazakhstan introduced its own IPTV services by the national provider Kazakhtelecom JSC and content integrator Alacast under the "iD TV" brand in two major cities Astana and Almaty in 2009 and is about to go nationwide starting 2010. Australian ISP iiNet launched Australia's first IPTV with fetchtv.
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. In India, IPTV was launched by Airtel and the government service provider MTNL and BSNL through tie up with AKSH and is available in most of the major cities of the country. Meanwhile, UF Group which is the franchise owner for UFO movies in Southern India plans to offer multiple host of services such as customer's movies on demand, shopping online, video conferencing, media player, e-learning on their single IPTV set top box branded as Emagine.
In Malaysia, various companies have attempted to launch IPTV services since 2005. Failed PayTV provider MiTV attempted to use an IPTV-over-UHF service but the service failed to take off. Hypp.TV was supposed to use an IPTV-based system, but not true IPTV as it does not provide a set-top box and requires users to view channels using a computer. True IPTV providers available in the country at the moment are Fine TV and DETV. In Q2 2010, Telekom Malaysia launched IPTV services through their fiber to the homeproduct UniFi in select areas. In April 2010, Astro began testing IPTV services on TIME dotCom Berhad's high-speed fiber to the home optical fibre network. In December 2010, Astro began trials with customers in high-rise condominium buildings around the Mont Kiara area. In April 2011, Astro commercially launched its IPTV services under the tag line "The One and Only Line You'll Ever Need", a triple play offering in conjunction with TIME dotCom Berhad that provides all the Astro programming via IPTV, together with voice telephone services and broadband Internet access all through the same fibre optic connection into the customer's home.
In Turkey, TTNET launched IPTV services under the name IPtivibu in 2010. It was available in pilot areas in the cities of Istanbul, İzmir and Ankara. As of 2011, IPTV service is launched as a large-scale commercial service and widely available across the country under the trademark "Tivibu EV". Superonline plans to provide IPTV under the different name "WebTV" in 2011. Türk Telekom started building the fiber optic substructure for IPTV in late 2007.
TV head-end: where live TV channels are encoded, encrypted and delivered in the form of IP multicast streams.
VOD platform: where on-demand video assets are stored and served when a user makes a request in the form of IP unicast stream.
Interactive portal: allows the user to navigate within the different IPTV services, such as the VOD catalog.
Delivery network: the packet switched network that carries IP packets (unicast and multicast).
Home TV gateway: the piece of equipment at the user's home that terminates the access link from the delivery network.
User's set-top box: the piece of equipment at the user's home that decodes and decrypts TV and VOD content and displays it on the TV screen.