IPTV the Emerging Multimedia Service

Bitcom India

 

IPTV 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

High-penetration of broadband expected to drive growth of IPTV

 

As the days of the exclusive analog broadcast process fade, a range of new digital applications, networking, and data management are getting into full swing .The satellite will remain in demand for its ability to provide the fullest global coverage, continuous network up-time, and high volume data delivery.

Analysts and executives seem in accord that satellite will play a critical role as technology and content provider. However in the not too distant future another emerging media will be IPTV:

IPTV has finally arrived falling wire line revenues, Increased competition, bundling opportunities, consumer demand for greater control over viewing preferences, falling voice revenues, increasing penetration of broadband - Telcos in India have finally realised the importance of shifting from a voice - centric model to an IP centric model in which video and other content rich interactive services play a key role.

Today, India is world’s 3rd largest TV and has 110 million plus TV households & 60 million plus cable TV homes. India ‘s TV market is projected with18% growth for the next 5 years. Internet penetration is increasing at a 50% plus rate in India.

By 2011, the Asia Pacific market is expected to reach 39 million IPTV subscribers. Total IPTV revenue in the region will reach USD 8.1 billion by 2011. Commercial rollout of IPTV services in India by several leading telecom operators is expected in 2007 and India is expected to be a high growth market by 2009. Telcos in India are constantly upgrading their networks to offer IPTV in order to retain customers & develop new revenue streams. Leading global players are aggressively eyeing the booming Indian market for delivering the triple play of voice, video and data services in an integrated wireless context.

Expert interprets the growth in this area is due to revenue-sharing deals, satellite providers will be able to strike with the content providers themselves. This figure should reach US$ 17 billion by 2010, a ten-fold increase from 2005 and making over three percent of the overall market.

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. We want to facilitate the growth of IPTV in the country, said, chairman of TRAI. In a consultation paper, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India recently released proposed amendments in the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the existing telecom licence

Telecom operators use IPTV to provide TV to their subscribers. In Internet protocol (IP) is the basic technology which allows operators to send TV signals through telecom network

IPTV is however different from Internet TV as the Internet Television is able to ride on existing lowest common denominator infrastructure including ADSL, Wi-Fi, cable, satellite and doesn’t require new infrastructure.

 

What is IPTV and how it differs from Internet TV

IPTV essentially has three components:

(a) Internet Protocol (IP):specifies the format of packets and the addressing scheme for a network.

(b) Television (TV): specifies the medium of communication that operates through the transmission of pictures and sounds.

(c) Set-top box connects the viewer’s TV and decodes the IP video and converts it into standard television signals.

   Video enters the system at the Telco’s national headend, where network feeds are pulled from satellites and encoded if necessary. The video streams is broken up into IP packets and send into the Telco’s core network, which is a massive IP network that handles all sorts of other traffic in addition to the video. The video streams are received by a local office. At the local office, local content (such as TV stations, advertising, and video on demand) is added. Local Office is also the spot where the IPTV middleware is housed which handles user authentication, channel change requests, billing, VoD requests, etc.

    All the channels in the lineup are multicast from the national headend to local offices at the same time, but at the local office, bottleneck is the local DSL loop, which has nowhere near the capacity to stream all of the channels at once. So since hundreds of channels cannot be send out to an IPTV subscriber over a DSL line, only few are sent at a time. When a user changes the channel on their set-top box, the box switches channels by using the IP Group Membership Protocol(IGMP) v2 to join a new multicast group. When the local office receives this request, it checks to make sure that the user is authorized to view the new channel, and then directs the routers in the local office to add that particular user to the channel’s distribution list.

 

Video on Demand (VoD)

To support VoD and other services, the local office also generates a unicast stream that targets a particular home and draws from the content on the local VoD server. This stream is typically controlled by the Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP), which enables DVD-style control over a multimedia stream and allows users to play, pause, and stop the program they are watching. The actual number of simultaneous video streams sent from the local office to the consumer varies by network, but is rarely more than four and is limited by last mile link capacity.

 

Advantages Lies in Interactivity

Advantages of IPTV include two way capability lacked by traditional TV distribution technologies, as well as point-to-point distribution allowing each viewer to view individual broadcasts.

On a 24-hour channel dedicated to live news, news anchors are urging viewers to call in and give their opinions on the matter. Before IPTV; the viewers would have to telephone the on-screen number. Now subscribers with digital TV can skip the phone and will be able to respond via remote control.

Game shows like ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ are extremely popular these days, especially of the contestant quizzing variety. Now viewers can play along to show if they are contestant worthy. Personal Video Recorder boxes let viewers take advantage of VoD technology by automatically recording programs that meet specific criteria.

Video-on-demand and two-way interactivity for applications such as home shopping, TV banking and gambling are already been deployed.

 

How IPTV differs from Internet Television:

Google, which acquired on line video sharing site YouTube last year is reported to have said that the Internet was not designed for TVbut various innovations are in place to provide the same

Key Differences IPTV is not TV that it is broadcast over the Internet. IPTV is generally funded and supported by large telecom providers, and 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 and is a carrier-led and controlled platform and requires connectivity infrastructure upgrade which underlines major changes and upgrades to connectivity, transport and delivery devices both on the operator environment as well as on the consumer side

.and provides an indirect communication channel between the service provider and the consumer

and approach is a fundamentally geographically-bound approach. This is mainly due to the fact that the deployment infrastructure is based in regions and in neighborhoods connected to consumer premises

Internet Television however is able to ride on existing lowest common denominator infrastructure including ADSL, Wi-Fi, cable, and satellite and doesn’t require new infrastructure, and the content is able to directly reach the consumers on these 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, and is open to any rights holder no matter whether this is an individual creating a video for a very small audience or a traditional provider that offers linear cable channels. The Internet Television has a direct communication channel to the consumer. The content is able to directly reach the consumers on the multiple devices independent of any specific carrier or operator. One can safely say that Internet Television is an outgrowth, not an overhaul.

The Internet Television approaches the publisher and has a direct communication channel to the consumer. The content publisher is able to directly reach the consumers on the multiple devices independent of any specific carrier or operator.

 

Current Scenario

MTNL has launched IPTV services and is reported to be offering about 40 free to the Air channels. MTNL has deployed Optibase’s IPTV platforms for its digital head-end that  enables triple play services in some areas of Delhi and Mumbai. MTNL is deploying these services targeted at their 3.9 million subscribers along with Time Broadband Services (P) Limited as their video tier partner MTNL, which offers services in Mumbai and Delhi, has just 1,500 subscribers for its IPTV service, several months after its launch. Bharti Airtel plans to start its IPTV service shortly, while Reliance Communications expects to ready some times later and an expert predicts 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 increasing the number to 100 in Mumbai recently. “We have been constrained by the non availability of content, with the TV channels showing reluctance to give their feeds to us,” as per an MTNL expert We haven’t started full scale marketing of the product so far

Some private telecom Operators, including Bharati, Reliance are also planning to launch IPTV services.

BSNL plans to launch the service by the year-end, as net-TV is scheduled to launch services under BSNL’s 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 an 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

Reliance has already announced a tie-up with Microsoft to test and launch the service. To provide content for the service, it is known to have adopted a Global IPTV Subscriber.

Bharti Airtel plans to launch the service by year end. It is targeting five major telecos for rolling out IPTV in the country and has plans to offer IPTV through MPEG-4.Bharti has been undertaking a trial 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

 

Challenges for Telcos offering IP-TV.

Simultaneous delivery of channels is necessary to keep IPTV competitive with cable and 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 consumers. Will it be easy for the telecom companies to acquire, license and distribute existing commercial video content? Can the telcos with little or no experience with the licensing of video content, hope to become smart players of this emerges hope that industry? Unfortunately what telcos are doing, is dumping large amounts of money into creating IP-based versions of existing cable and satellite offerings, without any understanding the new emerging paradigm of Video over Internet.

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