In most cases telcos are using IPTV for video delivery. “IPTV” stands for Internet protocol television, a delivery mechanism using Internet protocol rather than the hybrid fiber network of cable systems. IPTV uses Internet technology to convert a TV signal into packets of data. That information is sent to a set-top box. Cable operators must send all channel signals at the same time, but an IPTV network sends only the signals that are requested-a more efficient process.
IPTV’s Innovative Technologies
Proponents of Internet protocol television are touting the technology’s ability to offer more advanced services. That includes “multiview” technology that lets consumers check out multiple channels at once on the same screen, said Ed Graczyk, director of marketing for Microsoft TV, the platform behind AT&T’s video launch.
The multiview screen can be customized to feature favorite channels, most recent channels, popular content or kids channels, he said. This multiview capability exists in Microsoft’s IPTV platform, but has not yet been fired up. However, some big telcos overseas, such as Switzerland’s Swisscom and Australia’s Telstra, have delayed their IPTV rollouts that use Microsoft. Still, Mr. Graczyk said the product is ready to go in the United States.
IPTV makes other new features possible too, said Derek Kuhn, senior director of marketing and business development for Alcatel, a telecom equipment supplier that has a partnership with Microsoft TV for its IPTV launches. In addition to using a cellphone to program a DVR, a customer could watch the “Today” show on NBC at home and then “hand off” the show to a handheld device such as a cellphone to finish watching on the train or bus, he said. In this future world, consumers could also send photos or text messages from a cellphone to a TV.
Another innovation coming down the IPTV pike is the ability to deliver all the linear channels from the traditional TV to a computer, said Keith Wymbs, director of strategic marketing with Tut Systems, which provides headends to telcos.