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IPTV or NOT IPTV? That is the question!

It would seem that IPTV systems have become the new holy grail in commercial television systems. Almost every tender document for new build apartments, offices or student accommodation has an IPTV system included.

So are IPTV systems the way forward? or is it just a new trend that will fade away?

Well both really. The problem is that consultant architects hear of IPTV and think it is future proof and will be able to deliver every TV broadcast seamlessly and without any loss, but it simply cannot do this.

The basics

IPTV takes a standard television broadcast (Mpeg 2 or 4), strips out the modulation and then broadcasts the channel, usually via UDP or RTMP over a structured data network.

The process

For every satellite transponder or terrestrial MUX there needs to be a tuner within an IPTV server. The IPTV server then tunes to one or more channels within the transponder / mux and rebroadcasts the channel over the data network.

The receiver

At the outlet a PC, set top box or commercial television can receive the TV channel and display it on screen as if it where being delivered via a television aerial or satellite dish.

So the whole process is fairly straight forward and can be seen as a good way to distribute television signals over a data network with zero loss.

When to use IPTV systems

IPTV systems are especially useful in a commercial environment such as offices, hotels, airports etc.

The system can tune in to any TV channels required from a standard aerial or a satellite dish, and send the channel to any data point over the corporate network.

You can also manipulate the channel before broadcasting it, such as adding tickers, corporate styling or advertising to the screen.

You can control each TV outlet on the network from a central location, for instance if you wanted to run a promotional video on all public televisions, you could do that instantly without the need of changing the channel on each TV.

When NOT to use IPTV systems

Residential television systems simply do not need an IPTV system.

There is very little point in converting perfectly good television signals so that they can be broadcast over a data network, only to be converted back to the original television signal they started off as.

If you are planning a residential television system and are looking in to using IPTV to distribute the channels please consider the following -

1. Most people want to plug their TV in to a socket on the wall for it to just work - With IPTV you need to convert the signals back to a system that the TV can understand before a standard TV will be able to display the channel.

2. You cannot distribute satellite frequencies via IPTV - You have to convert each channel individually within an IPTV server first. For example if you wanted to broadcast every free to air broadcast from astra 28 east (sky) then you would need an IPTV server with 61 satellite tuners capable of delivering over 400 TV channels.

3. You cannot deliver Sky programming via IPTV - Sky programming is encrypted with NDS encryption, the only way to receive and watch Sky television is by using a Sky receiver.

Our conclusion

IPTV systems are a very useful tool in delivering television signals when used in the correct environment but they are far from a replacement to traditional delivery methods of thousands of TV channels through a single coaxial cable.

If you would like to find out more regarding IPTV or you are looking for help designing a commercial television system then please contact us using the form below or call us on 0191 273 4664.

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