The term “IPTV” encompasses live television, video on demand (VoD), game on demand (in English Game on Demand, GoD or Cloud Gaming) and catch-up television (in English English “catch-up TV”). The methods of communication are diverse. Live TV uses a multicast IP solution, which allows information to be sent once for multiple people. VoD and catch-up television use an IP unicast solution (a single destination for these streams).
IPTV uses the same infrastructure as Internet access, but with reserved bandwidth. In France, IPTV is often provided with the broadband Internet subscription offer. Suppliers speak of a triple-play offer (Internet, telephony, television).
IPTV can also be deployed in private communities, in fact, it allows a hotelier, hospital, or a vacation home to be able to offer a bouquet of IPTV channels as well as a range of billable and on-demand services, the establishment offering this network is considered to be a telecom operator.
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What does IPTV mean?
IPTV stands for Internet Protocol TeleVision. As the name suggests, it is a television transmission process that uses the Internet to function (via IP which stands for Internet Protocol). To better understand this concept, which is relatively new to many people, it is useful to learn more about traditional transmission protocols (ie not using IPTV).
Generally, television channels use satellite or terrestrial transmission systems to broadcast programs. Thus, each subscriber with a TV, an antenna and a decoder can receive the signal at home via the satellite or microwave network.
However, the classic process has a major shortcoming: it is not possible for the viewer to control what he is watching. The channels predefine daily programs to which all subscribers must refer if they want to follow programs. With well-defined schedules (and therefore by definition not flexible). IP-TV on the other hand is totally different. In addition to using the Internet to function, it also offers the user the option of choosing their programs. In other words, the viewer can follow what they want, when they want.
Note: Be careful not to summarize IPTV only as streaming platforms or online multimedia content distribution (YouTube, Netflix, etc.)
How does IPTV work?
As briefly mentioned above, the principle of operation of IP TV is: to make television available on demand. Thus, analogously to what happens during an Internet search (Google search for example), the viewer requests a program that he wants to follow and the corresponding signal is sent to him. Since data traffic takes place via the Internet, the user no longer needs a satellite dish or any antenna to receive broadcasts, just from an Internet Service Provider (an ISP). and an internet connection.
Note that IPTV does not prevent the use of a satellite television signal receiver (satellite dish). If you wish, you can even use them together (together or alternatively). What you just need to know is that these are two completely independent concepts.
How do operators broadcast programs using IPTV?
Deploying an IPTV protocol is very complex. First of all, it requires a very advanced storage base. It is in fact thanks to this that the operator will store all the multimedia content that it makes available to its subscribers. There are mainly two types, namely:
Centralized storage servers (practical for small local operators);
Decentralized storage servers (for large-scale operators).
Once the multimedia content is placed on the storage servers, the operator sets up an encryption algorithm. It must also ensure that every viewer can have the best possible video quality. As for the broadcasts themselves, they are carried out as streaming (ad-free) on demand with very high transmission speeds.
The media for using IPTV
One of the peculiarities of IPTV is that it can be deployed on various media (hardware and software). A distinction is made, for example, between web browsers, smart TVs and set-top boxes.
IPTV, unlike most television transmission protocols, is compatible with web browsers (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari and Microsoft Edge). The instructions are very simple. All you need to do is subscribe to an IPTV service provider and then connect to the IPTV’s streaming URL. In this way, you can have access to all the programs of your choice. For example, you can watch Champions League matches streaming for free.
Note, however, that for the best IP TV experience on a web browser, it is important that your device performs well enough even if it is not necessarily useful to have a pro gaming PC for it. The same goes for your Internet connection, it must have a good speed otherwise the experience may be disappointing. If you can (unfortunately I haven’t yet), opt for an internet connection using fiber optics instead.
Digital television: TV smarts
The most conventional way to watch television is to have a television set. IPTV is no exception to this rule. However, it should be noted that only smart TVs can receive programs broadcast by IP-TV. Or you will need to connect your computer to your TV via HDMI.
To use IPTV on your smart TV, you will need to have previously downloaded and installed an IPTV application. There are several depending on your location, they are generally found in online libraries (LG Content Store for example for LG brand smart TVs). In terms of configuration and mode of operation, they vary from TV model to TV model.
The IPTV box
Apart from Internet browsers and smart TVs, IPTV can also work thanks to an IPTV box. It is a small device (mostly an Android device) similar to a set-top box that is used to transmit IPTV signals. It does not use an antenna for this. Like the other devices discussed above, all you need is a fairly fast internet connection and you’re good to go.
In addition, the IP-TV box turns out to be very practical given the many additional features it offers, namely:
- Internet browsing;
- Recording of favorite shows to follow them later;
- Internet radio;
- Reading various removable disks (USB key, hard disk, etc.).
- It is these IPTV boxes, mostly Android IPTV boxes such as the Kodi boxes, the Android Infomir MAG425A box, the Xiaomi Mi Box S 4K or the Nvidia Shield TV (more oriented towards video games) that are often considered the best boxes. IP-TV, which are often criticized. These multimedia gateways allow you to transform your TV into a “Smart TV”, ie a TV connected to the Internet.
What are the different forms of IPTV?
There are mainly 3 forms of IPTV, namely:
- Catch-up television;
- Live IPTV.
VOD stands for Video On Demand which literally means “video on demand”. It is one of the most popular forms of IP-TV. In fact, it (VOD) has been largely featured earlier in this article. The user is free to choose the audiovisual programs he wants and to follow them in real time. It is in this category that we find popular SVOD streaming platforms such as Netflix, OCS or Amazon Prime Video. If you are looking for a movie or a series for example, all you have to do is make a request and the multimedia file will be sent to you via the Internet in a format of your choice (all this in a few seconds).
Catch-up television or time-shifted media
This is a special form of television broadcasting. It allows you to follow deferred programs in streaming. It is a free service that provides recent programs, generally less than 30 days old, with the exception of sporting events or films (for copyright and broadcasting rights issues). Thus, thanks to this technology, you can for example follow a Sunday program (broadcast live) in deferred streaming on Tuesday. All TV channels now offer their programs on demand via a website, a mobile application for iOS / Android or directly from the internet box.
Here is the list of the main French television channel catch-up services:
- My TF1
- France Tv
- 6 Play
Catch up TV should not be confused with the rebroadcasting that most TV channels do. This is a completely optional delayed streaming, with other programs continuing to be broadcast live.
There are also, and this is very practical, replay video aggregators such as Molotov, Télé 7 jours replay which allow all content to be centralized on a single website.
As the name suggests, IPTV is akin to conventional television. It consists of broadcasting a television program (film, series, football match, sporting event) live via the Internet.
The advantages of IPTV
- IPTV is very convenient. The main advantages of this protocol are:
- IPTV is very simple and easy to configure, it also does not require any cable installation:
- specific socket;
- IPTV allows the viewer to have full control over what they watch;
- Thanks to IPTV, it is possible to pause a program, skip backwards or even forwards;
- IPTV works on many platforms;
- The price / quality ratio of IPTV is very advantageous.
- The disadvantages of IPTV
As disadvantages of IPTV, we distinguish:
The legal problems inherent in its use;
- Transmission bugs linked to the overload of central servers
- The inability to watch TV programs without a high-speed Internet connection;
- Slow loading (direct consequence of a poor Internet connection);
- The poor signal quality sometimes.
What future for IPTV?
Considering the growing popularity of IPTV services (in this case VOD), everything suggests that the future of this service is bright. It should also not be overlooked that with the evolution of the Internet (soon the launch of 5G), users will be more turned to streaming platforms, to the detriment of other transmission methods. However, IPTV still has a long way to go, particularly with regard to its stabilization.