IPTV Current Trends

Bitcom India

 

Let   us  look at the national Broadcast scenario in the country .There are about 100 million cable homes and 4 million satellite direct TV homes in the country. The key driver for growth of this segment is purely entertainment driven and lately the consumer is looking for added values and clear picture quality. Rise in purchasing power has caused both the rural and urban consumer class to move to next tier of services. In urban homes people are moving from two cable TV sets (one each in bed room and drawing room ) to dish TV for better quality of picture, where as in rural areas, people are moving from community TV sets to personal TV sets. Over the last decade; the growth of satellite services, the rise of digital cable, and the birth of HDTV, DTH and Mobile TV have all left their mark on the television landscape. Now, a new delivery method threatens to shake things up even more powerfully. Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is poised to offer more interactivity. One IPTV service provider who is introducing IPTV service in the country advertised. It is time for DTH to retire as IPTV is being introduced in the country’.

 

This new trend is also seen in developing countries that irrespective of urban or rural settings demands for IPTV are increasing. India would also see this trend provided broadband access in the country is increased. IPTV is a fully digital service. Who ever has seen it  it falls for its rich picture quality ,  interactivity and user friendly experience.

 

 IPTV describes a system capable of receiving and displaying a video stream encoded as a series of Internet Protocol packets.

 

 The telecom companies now wants to turn a “triple play” of voice, data, and video and want to become household’s sole communications link, and IPTV is a major part of, that strategy.

 

IPTV The technical term for (internet protocol television), allows digital video streaming through high-speed broadband. It also allows point-to-point distribution enabling stream control (such as pause and rewind) and a free selection of programming.

 

Regulatory Issues pertaining for introduction of IPTV

 

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has initiated the process to make changes in the Telecom Licenses and the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 in order to facilitate Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) in the country. The existing Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, has no provisions for IPTV.  On Eighth September 2008 Ministry of Information and Broadcasting  has issued ‘Policy Guidelines’ for operation of IPTV Services in India. The highlights of the policy guidelines are:

 

Licensing Issues

 

   Telecom Access Service Providers (UASL and CMTS and Basic Service Licensees) having licence to provide triple play services and ISPs with  net worth of more than Rs. 100 Crores and having permission from the licensor to provide IPTV or any other telecom service provider duly authorized by Department of Telecom will be able to provide IPTV  service under their licenses without requiring any further registration.

 

All telecom licencees /cable operators before starting IPTV services will give  details like relevant licence /registration, start date, area being covered and network infrastructure etc. In case any telecom service provider registers itself as cable operator and provides IPTV using its telecom resources ,it shall be considered as service under telecom licence.

 

Content Regulation

 

            The Telecom licensees while providing TV channels through IPTV shall transmit only such channels in exactly same form (unaltered) for which broadcasters are registered with or otherwise permitted by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. In such cases, the responsibility to ensure that content is in accordance with the extant laws, rules; regulations etc shall be that of the broadcaster and telecom licencee will not be held responsible.

 

            In case of contents other than TV Channels from broadcasters, the telecom licensee shall be responsible for observing program code and advertisement code and such program code and advertisement code shall be the same as provided in Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act 1995 and Rules there under.

 

The telecom licensee can obtain content from the multi-system operator or a cable operator for providing IPTV services.

           

            Telecom service providers providing IPTV, will show only those news and television channels, which have been registered with Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. They will not produce or provide or any broadcast or non-broadcast channel having any element of news and current affairs.

 

The IPTV service provider, either a telecom licencee or a cable operator should provide commercial inter-operability, so that subscribers can switch to any other service provider or platform.

          

            The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting  shall have right to notify the number and names of channels for compulsory carriage.It is incumbent on the IPTV provider to preserve content for ninety days or a specified period after transmission.       

 

Down linking Policy

 

There is no specific uplinking and down linking policy for IPTV as it is distributed though land line ,however for receiving the feed from satellites there is necessasity to have  uplinking/ down linking guidelines amended to enable the broadcasters to provide signals to all distributors of TV channels such as cable operators, MSOs, DTH operators, HITS operators, IPTV service providers etc.

 

  IPTV is however different from Internet TV.

 

It is necessary to differentiate IPTV from Internet TV as generally people consider both the concepts similar. Internet Television is able to ride on existing lowest common denominator infrastructure including ADSL, Wi-Fi, cable, satellite and doesn’t require new infrastructure, and different from Internet Television, as explained below.

 

The key difference is that IPTV is not TV that is broadcast over the Internet.

 

IPTV allows established media content production business, and major television distribution networks to have total control of the content distributed and to greatly reduce opportunities for theft and piracy. IPTV is a carrier-led and controlled platform and requires connectivity infrastructure upgrades, which underline major changes and upgrades to connectivity, transport and delivery devices both on the operator environment as well as on the consumer side .It provides an indirect communication channel between the service provider and the consumer and its approach is geographically-bound approach mainly due to the fact that the deployment  of  infrastructure is based in regions and in neighborhoods connected to consumer premises.

 

Internet Television on the other hand has a direct communication channel to the consumer and the content is able to directly reach the consumers on the multiple devices independent of any specific carrier or operator. It uses a global reach business model, where video and television services that are offered in one area can be accessed from any other global area.

 

Future of IPTV   -   According to surveys,  by the end of this decade, IPTV subscribers will generate $10 billion in revenue, According to a report from  a Washington DC-based expert the incremental IPTV equipment market will reach $336 Million in 2013 up from $30 Million in 2005.

 

IPTV market in India which is still in its nascent stage already has many players eyeing  it. As soon as IPTV technology was introduced in the market, many firms which are well established telecom players prepared themselves to jump into it. MTNL ranks first with the launch of its IPTV service early this year in Delhi and Mumbai even before the government could introduce any regulations for the new technology. Another public sector company, Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) has also rolled out its services in Pune, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore among other places.  BSNL plans to launch the service with brand name of Data-One with an initial 50,000 subscribers in the National Capital Region. BSNL is reported to be conducting a feasibility study to launch broadband multiplay service, including voice, video and Internet protocol television (IPTV), fibre-to-home technology is being evaluated and the service will be implemented by year-end, as per information The service, is reported to be offered in 789 cities across the country and would be available at eight megabits per second (Mbps) speed connectivity, instead of 2Mbps, which the company uses at present. The service would feature ‘content on demand’ that could be availed through a set-top box provided by BSNL.

 

Apart from MTNL and BSNL, many other firms are betting big on IPTV, with a view to provide a wider choice to the consumers. The plans of various companies to enter IPTV business would bring in the much required competition quite early but the success of IPTV in market at this stage is questionable.A lack of awareness on the benefits of IPTV, such as its interactivity and edutainment (education plus entertainment) is the major reason for the lack of its popularity in the country. The current requirement is to educate broadband users, who are the potential customers, about the service,” according to an expert in the this business.

 

Private telecom Operators, including Bharati and Reliance are planning to launch IPTV services, Reliance has already announced a tie-up with Microsoft to test and launch the service.

 

The Planning Commission is reported to be considering a tax relaxation on the hardware for IPTV in the 11th Five Year Plan. This move of the Government is aimed at achieving complete coverage of Digital TV by 2012. The broadband penetration required for growth of IPTV in India is however far short of the planned target for the year 2007 which was declared as the broadband year          

 

Forecast by an expert group  shows that the number of global IPTV subscribers will grow from 1.9 million in 2004 to 25.3 million in 2009, a compound annual growth rate of 79 percent. There are predictions that India will have 4, 00,000 IPTV customers by 2010.

 

The MTNL IPTV offering is increasing the number of channels on its service to 72 from 22 in Delhi in the near future, after having increased the number to 100 in Mumbai recently. They are however reported to be constrained by the non availability of content, with the TV channels showing reluctance to give their feeds.

 

Technology

 

MTNL will deploy Optibase’s IPTV platforms for its digital head-end that will enable triple play services in the Delhi and Mumbai areas. MTNL is deploying these services with Time Broadband Services (P) Limited as their video tier partner. MTNL along with AKASH OPTIFIBRE and UTSTARCOM are introducing icontrol IPTV service in Delhi and as it is claimed that for the first time in the history of Television is bringing a revolutionary concept in TV viewing at just Rs, 199 per month with a free set top box against a refundable security of Rs, 999.

 

What is icontrol ? it is a service that helps you control TV the way you want and no it is not DTH. The service offers more than 100 channels, including Star, Neo, Ten Sport, and most others. It also offers more than 200 movies, with rewind fast forward and pause options and you don’t need a DVD player or DVDs.

 

It provides time shift TV, which allows you to watch your favorite programme as and when you want. It plays live channels to watch like cricket again and again and again

 

BSNL is reported to be conducting a feasibility study to launch broadband multiplay service, including voice, video and Internet protocol television IPTV, Fibre-to-home technology is being evaluated and the service will be implemented by year-end, as per information

 

Bharti Airtel plans to launch the service by year end by targeting five areas for rolling out IPTV in the country and has plans to offer IPTV through MPEG-4. It has been undertaking trials in Gurgaon using UT Starcom’s Rolling Streams IPTV system, and is planning to offer 100 channels and will deploy ADSL 2 technology to provide network transmission capacity.

 

VSNL has chosen Cisco Systems for the deployment of Metro Ethernet solution to offer bundled services such as voice over IP, broadcast TV and video on demand for residential customers. In first phase services will be rolled out across 8 cities and would connect more than a million customers

 

Reliance Communications (RCom) has joined hands with Microsoft and will use Microsoft’s Mediaroom software to power its IPTV services in India, and now holds the exclusive rights for the deployment of Mediaroom software in India, will roll out the project in 30 Indian cities in phases – Delhi and Mumbai being the initial deployment cities. It plans to deliver a new, personalized television experience to the consumers. As per Reliance Communications about the IPTV project it would also be taken to rural India and the company is reported to be talking to state governments to collaborate with them for this initiative .To provide content for the service, Reliance has adopted a Global IPTV Subscriber to provide content for the service, and has adopted an unusual strategy of bringing production in-house in addition to negotiating distribution partnerships.

 

Challenges for TELCOs Offering  IPTV 

 

IPTV business is being visualized as a very lucrative one but there are many hurdles which are likely to impede its growth in the country and the plans of various companies to enter IPTV business, these are:

 

Poor broadband penetration arguing intensively about the best route/technology for broadband the base of IPTV, we have three million broadband connections against a nine million target in the officially declared ‘broadband year’. The 11 million normal internet connections are without broadband support. This is comming in the way of roll out of  IPTV .

 

The experience about the present DSL base broadband services is that it suffers from interruption and is not available all the time. Appropriate band width is required during the transmission timings of IPTV  service. The Broadband Growth though is rather slow but at 7% per month by 2010 there will be 40 million Internet connection and 20 million Broadband connections. There will be over 240 million broadband subscribers in Asia-Pacific by the end of 2011.

 

High priced set-top boxes (STBs): the high cost of IPTV STBs that are priced at Rs 8,000. in comparison to this, the STBs of Conditional Access System (CAS) and Direct-To-Home (DTH) services cost Rs 2,000 and Rs 4,000  respectively. For. IPTV to become a viable whole-house solution, it will also need to support enough simultaneous channels to allow televisions in different rooms to display different content, and juggling resulting bandwidth issues is one of the trickiest parts of implementing an IPTV network that will be attractive to 

 

Last-mile (to the home) connectivity problems: that are likely to delay the telecom industry’s much-hyped plan of rolling out IPTV services. We are today at the threshold of a broadband revolution and we are once again arguing intensively about the best route/technology for broadband. We have three million broadband connections against a nine million target in the officially declared ‘broadband year’. Nearly 11 million internet connections are without broadband support. This will come in the way smooth roll out of IPTV  .The experience about the present DSL based broadband services is that it suffers from interruption and is not available all the time and the band width required for the IPTV signal is required to ensure during the service timings of IPTV transmission.

 

Role of TV content providers

Wilingess’ of the TV content providers to use IPTV platform for the transmission of their service. A lack of awareness on the benefits of IPTV, such as its interactivity and edutainment (education plus entertainment) is the major reason for the lack of its popularity in the country. The current requirement is to educate broadband users, who are the potential customers, about the service,” according to an expert in the this business simultaneous delivery of channels is necessary to keep IPTV competitive with cable TV.

 

            And lastly will it be easy for the telecom companies to acquire, license and distribute existing commercial video content?

 

Let us hope that IPTV along with DTH will provide a tough competition to the cable TV in the urban India and provide a  new  viewing experience.