Great in Its Own Right, IPTV Is Also an Agent of Network Transformation

Carl Weinschenk

Virtually every prediction we've run across suggests that Internet Protocol Television will be a resounding success. The latest is this iSuppli prognostication, reported on at, that says IPTV will grow from $779.2 million last year to $26.3 billion in 2011. That's a factor of almost 34.


It's unclear from the story precisely how iSuppli defines IPTV. The sense is that that number includes at least some applications that aren't what today's couch potatoes would call a television service. For instance, the story references digital music and on-demand gaming.


The true potential of IPTV -- which AT&T, Verizon, other telcos and cable operators clearly see -- is startling. This piece at Daily IPTV maps out some of the innovative services that could emerge. They include interactive health care, video buddy lists, real-time video chat, live polls and others. Indeed, the list seems only limited by marketers' legendarily limitless imaginations. The point is that once the networks are in place, the upside potential is tremendous.


This makes IPTV a three-way killer app. The first way is the most obvious: Scads of people will use IPTV to get the services they receive over the free airwaves, cable and satellite today. That's something of a no-brainer. For instance, this press release from Pyramid Research says IPTV may become the preferred conduit for the video-on-demand services championed by the cable industry. The second element is that people will be attracted to new services that are impossible or less than ideally delivered by traditional means. The third is non-video applications that can ride on the IPTV infrastructure.


That's a lot of potential, and service providers who want to take advantage of it must create great networks. They clearly will have the motivation to do this. Seen in this light, IPTV becomes two things: an extended family of lucrative applications and an agent of transformation for networks.


In many cases, the difference between a robust network and one that is limping along isn't dramatic. Perhaps the addition of some specialized equipment -- such as this router from Juniper that is customized to deliver highly targeted advertising, another revenue opportunity that will reach its zenith with IPTV -- will do the trick. The lure of IPTV may convince service providers that are straddling the line between robust and marginal networks to make the necessary investments.

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Jul 18, 2007 2:00 AM Art Powell Art Powell  says:
I agree with everything stated here except the following: 'In many cases, the difference between a robust network and one that is limping along isnt dramatic'.Having built and maintained networks for nearly twenty years I can tell you this, there is still a huge challenge facing IP networks in delivering IPTV.To understand why you need to understand IP based networks. When the packet leaves a machine, it ASSUMES that the network is down. This is why IP based traffic is chatty with large overhead. We are just beginning to install VOIP in our clients and the ones that we do we have to establish throttling, extensive network monitoring and QOS just to make sure the internal phones work (we still send their outgoing through traditional T1 trunks). These are smaller clients.I am not saying that it can't be done. I just have a good idea of what the present network conditions are for the present backbone providers and I am telling you that IPTV sounds like it has a lot of potential, but not before there is a major investment in the present network architectures.Art PowellCEODiamond IT Services. Reply
Jul 18, 2007 11:05 AM Warren Tibbotts Warren Tibbotts  says:
I am involved with an interesting technology player in this area which has several patents on a long playing internet video viewing technology that doesnt buffer, or have download wait times. Over a normal broadband connection, you can fast forward an hour into a 2 hour movie with no waiting or downloading time. Truly amazing, and with this technology IPTV will be a reality sooner rather than later. An example of this technology can be seen on Reply
Jul 19, 2007 1:13 AM Richard O'Sullivan Richard O'Sullivan  says:
In 2003/2004, I was Project Manager for the rollout of a Global network in 75 countries for my employer at the time, the Australian Trade Commission. The network was MPLS broadband at ISO model Layer 3, full mesh and featured Voice, Data and Video. The Voice content was VOIP, the data content was email, SAP and other applications. The video was multicast ITU-T h.264 (a subset of h.323 Video Conferencing using Polycom terminals. The result was a spectacular - a quantum leap in technology. I have a background in television as well as ICT and I would have no hesitation in rolling out IP-TV. In fact, I have a project coming up that may use it. Reply

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