What is IPTV and what are its pros and cons?

What is IPTV and what are its pros and cons?

IPTV is a recently created computer protocol that will eventually replace the traditional TV transmission protocol. It raises several questions. What is IPTV? What are its features? What are the benefits of using the IPTV protocol? Discover the answers to these various questions in the rest of this article.

What does IPTV mean?

IPTV is an acronym for Internet Protocol TeleVision. As the name implies, it is a television transmission process that uses the Internet to function (via IP, which stands for Internet Protocol). In order for many people to better understand this relatively new concept, it is best to learn more about traditional transmission protocols (i.e., not using IPTV).

Typically, television channels use satellite or radio transmission systems to broadcast their programs. Therefore, every subscriber with a TV, antenna and decoder can receive the signal at home via satellite or radio network.

However, the traditional process has a major drawback: the viewer has no control over what he is watching. The channel predefines the daily programs that any subscriber must refer to if he wants to follow the broadcast.

The schedule is clearly defined (and therefore inflexible according to the definition). IPTV, on the other hand, is completely different. In addition to using the Internet for its operation, it offers the subscriber the possibility to select programs. In other words, viewers can watch what they want, when they want.

Note: Care must be taken not to limit IPTV Service to platforms that stream or distribute online multimedia content only (YouTube, Netflix, etc.).

How does IPTV work?

As mentioned earlier, IPTV works as follows: on-demand TV. So, similar to what happens during a search on the Internet (e.g. Google search), the viewer requests the program he wants to follow and the corresponding signal is sent to him. Since the data traffic is carried over the Internet, the subscriber no longer needs an antenna or antenna to receive the broadcast, only an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and an Internet connection.

Please note that IPTV does not prevent the use of TV signal receivers via satellite (satellite antenna). You can even use them together (jointly or alternately) if you wish. You just need to know that these are two completely separate concepts.

How do carriers use IPTV for broadcasting?

The deployment of an IPTV protocol is very complex. First, it requires a very advanced storage infrastructure. It is for this reason that the operator will store all the multimedia content it provides to its subscribers. There are two main types, namely

  • Centralized storage servers (for small local operators).
  • Decentralized storage servers (for large operators).

Once the multimedia content is placed on the storage server, the operator implements encryption algorithms. It must also ensure that each viewer receives the best possible video quality. As for the broadcasts themselves, they are streamed (ad-free) on demand at very high transmission speeds.

IPTV Using Media

One of the features of IPTV is that it can be deployed on a variety of media (hardware and software). For example, there is a difference between a web browser, a smart TV and a decoder.

Web Browsers

Unlike most TV delivery protocols, IPTV is compatible with web browsers (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari and even Microsoft Edge). The user manual is also very simple. All you have to do is subscribe to an IPTV service provider and then connect to the IPTV streaming URL. This way, you can access all the programs of your choice. For example, you will be able to watch streaming matches of the UEFA Champions League for free.

Note, however, that in order to get a better IPTV experience on your web browser, your device must be powerful enough that even having a professional gamer PC doesn't necessarily help. The same goes for your Internet connection, which must have good speed, otherwise the experience may be disappointing. If you can (and unfortunately not yet), choose to use a fiber optic Internet connection if you qualify.

Digital TV: Smart TV

The most traditional way to follow TV is to own a TV set, and IPTV is no exception. However, it is important to note that only Smart TVs can receive programs broadcast on IPTV. Or you may need to connect your computer to the TV via HDMI.

To use IPTV on your Smart TV, you need to download and install the IPTV application beforehand. There are several depending on your location, and they can usually be found in online libraries (e.g. LG Content Store for LG brand Smart TVs). Regarding configuration and operation modes, they vary by TV model.

IPTV Boxes

In addition to Internet browsers and smart TVs, IPTV can also work through an IPTV box. It is a small set-top box-like device (mainly Android-based) that is used to transmit IPTV signals. For this purpose, it does not use antennas. As with the other devices described above, all you need is a fairly fast Internet connection and you're good to go.

In addition, the IPTV box is very useful given the many additional features it offers, namely

  • Internet browsing.
  • Recording of favorite programs for later attention.
  • Internet radio.
  • Reading of various removable disks (USB flash drives, hard disks, etc.).

IPTV Piracy

It is these IPTV boxes, mainly Android IPTV boxes such as the Kodi box, Infomir MAG425A Android box, Xiaomi Mi Box S 4K or Nvidia Shield TV (which is more geared towards video games), that are often considered the best boxes. Often condemned. These multimedia gateways allow you to turn your TV into a "smart TV", i.e. a TV connected to the Internet.

They will become the new vehicle for piracy to destroy copyrights and intellectual property, allowing live viewing of pirated pay-per-view services through illegal subscriptions (often held by the mafia) at virtually no cost. But be careful, as is unfortunately common, not to confuse IPTV technology with IPTV piracy, which uses the technology for illegal purposes and is fought by rights holders.

Unfortunately, this has happened with direct download sites and even peer-to-peer sites, where the public has confused the technical process with illegal downloads via Emule or bittorent.

What are the different forms of IPTV?

There are 3 main forms of IPTV, which are

  • Video-on-demand.
  • Catch-up TV.
  • Live IPTV.

Video On Demand

VOD is the acronym of Video On Demand, which literally means "video on demand". It is one of the most popular forms of IPTV. In addition, it (VOD) is introduced in most of the previous contents of this article. Users can freely choose their favorite video and audio programs and follow them in real time.

It is in this category that we find the popular SVOD streaming platforms such as Netflix, OCS or Amazon Prime Video. For example, if you are looking for a movie or series, you can simply request it and the multimedia file will be sent to you over the Internet in the format of your choice (all in seconds).

Catching up with TV or time-shifted media

This is a special form of television broadcasting. It allows you to pay attention to delayed broadcasts in streaming media. It is a free service that provides access to the most recent programs, usually no more than 30 days, except for sports or movies (copyright and retransmission rights issues).

Thus, with this technology, you can follow Sunday programs (live) on Tuesdays in a delayed streaming format. All TV channels are now available on demand via the website, iOS/Android mobile apps or directly from the Internet box.

However, catch-up TV should not be confused with the retransmission that most TV stations do. It is a completely optional delayed stream while the rest of the program continues live.

Live IPTV

As the name implies, IPTV is similar to traditional television. It includes live streaming of TV programs (movies, series, soccer games, sports events) over the Internet.

Pros of IPTV

IPTV is convenient. The main advantages of the protocol are.

IPTV is very simple and easy to configure, and does not require any cable installation: dedicated sockets.

  • IPTV allows viewers to have full control over what they watch.
  • With IPTV, programs can be paused, skipped backwards or even skipped forwards.
  • IPTV is available on many platforms.
  • The price/performance ratio of IPTV is very advantageous.

Cons of IPTV

As drawbacks of IPTV, we distinguish between

  • The legal issues inherent in its use.
  • Transmission errors related to central server overloads.
  • The impossibility of watching TV programs without a broadband Internet connection.
  • Slow loading (a direct consequence of poor Internet connection).
  • sometimes poor signal quality.

Legal Framework of IPTV

IPTV services can be divided into two different categories, namely

  • Legal IPTV services.
  • Illegal IPTV services.

Legal IPTV services are those that comply with current regulations and have the right to broadcast multimedia content over the Internet. For example, we can refer to YouTube TV or Netflix (as described above). To access these services, you will usually need to subscribe to a paid subscription.

On the other hand, illegal IPTV services are those that do not have any authorization. They are unauthorized to retransmit programs from TV channels. When you use such services, you will face retaliation from the High Authority for the Distribution of Works and Protection of Rights on the Internet (HADOPI). The penalties incurred range from simple warnings to fines and up to three years in prison.

The authorities are increasingly concerned about the development of IPTV, especially in relation to illegal offers, including at the criminal level. Recently, a related illegal network (called Xtream Codes) was busted by the European police. The company was illegally offering content from multiple pay-TV packages for a subscription fee of 12 Euros per month. The loss of legal services will amount to several million euros.

What is the future of IPTV?

If we consider the growing popularity of IPTV services (in this case VOD), everything indicates that the future of this service is promising. It should also not be overlooked that with the development of the Internet (soon to be 5G), users will turn more to streaming platforms, to the detriment of other delivery methods. However, IPTV still has a long way to go, especially when it comes to stability and the legal framework.

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