Over the last decade, the growth of satellite service, the rise of digital cable, and the birth of HDTV have all left their mark on the television landscape. Now, a new delivery method promises to shake things up even more. Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) has arrived, and backed by the deep pockets of the telecommunications industry, it’s poised to offer more polished services and bring a bulky dose of competition to the TV ecosystems market.

Internet Protocol television (IPTV) is the broad term describing solutions through which television services are delivered using the existing Internet infrastructure. In simpler terms, IPTVallows you to watch television through your existing Internet connection. It is like cable TV, but uses a broadband connection to deliver the programs instead of a cable.

 IPTV describes a system capable of receiving and displaying a video stream encoded as a series of Internet Protocol packets. If you've ever watched a video clip on your computer, you've used an IPTV system in its broadest sense. When most people discuss IPTV, though, they're talking about watching traditional channels on your television, where people demand a smooth, high-resolution, lag-free picture, and it is the ecosystem providers that are jumping headfirst into this market driven by the high consumer demand for advanced quality and interactivity. In this sense, channels –whether live or on demand- are encoded as IP packets and delivered to the TV through a streaming client, be it an end device (TV, PC, Tablet, Smartphone) or a set-top box.

IPTV service also includes video on demand, which is similar to watching video CDs/DVDs using a VCD/DVD player.

Here is a short technical summary of what IPTV does:

IPTV converts television signals into small packets of computer data like any other form of online traffic such as email or a web page. There are three main components of IPTV.

First, the TV and content head end, where the TV channels are received and encoded and also other content like videos which are stored.

The second component is the delivery network, which is broadband and landline network provided by a telecom operators such as MTNL. The third component is the set top box, which is required at the customer location. The packets are reassembled into programming by software in the set-top box. This box is connected between the operator’s broadband modem and customer’s TV.

As is evident, the quality of digital video and audio is much better compared to that of traditional analog TV. With additional features, it can become interactive. For example, viewers may be able to look up a player’s history while watching a game. They also may be able to schedule a recording of their favorite program when they are not home. With video on demand, they can browse an online movie catalog and watch the movies instantly.

Because IPTV utilizes converged infrastructure, this means lower maintenance overhead for operators and lower prices for users. Using set-top boxes with broadband internet connections, video can be streamed to households more efficiently than previous technologies.