Written on Saturday, February 10, 2007 by Gemini
Watching TV will never be the same for the Indian consumer. With CAS (conditional access system) already a part of the TV-viewing experience and DTH (direct-to-home) creating a flurry, the option of IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) has set the stage for an interesting battle for television supremacy. Indiatimes Infotech puts things in perspective for everyone from couch potatoes to the net-savvy channel surfers.
IPTV is different
IPTV is often confused with television over the internet. Simply put, it actually means receiving TV signals through the good old MTNL telephone line. The telecom giant calls it triple play — that is, your MTNL connection will work as a telephone, internet connection and a television content provider. In IPTV, content will be viewed through technologies used for computer networks. Of course you don’t need a computer for that.
How does it work?
To take advantage of this medium, viewers will need a broadband connection and a set-top box (STB) to send and receive requests. IPTV uses a two-way signal sent through the service provider’s network and servers. Since the connection is different from the normal internet connection, it does not affect surfing. The only similarity IPTV has with newer media like CAS and DTH is that this too comes with a STB. But its STB is nothing like the ones that come with the DTH or CAS. Since the entire network works on servers, the STB for IPTV comes with no movable parts. Says AS Oberai, director, IOL Broadband: “The content is stored on servers. So, the STB does not need to have a hard disk, but at the same time it is far more complex as IPTV allows viewers to control (read: play and pause) content.”
The cost factor
The cost of IPTV, providing only TV viewing and games, will be equal to other services and is likely to fall thanks to competition, says Oberai. Right now, a connection costs a shade above Rs 2,000, including installation. The STB costs Rs 999 while the router costs Rs 199. All these are one-time costs for the consumer. Users also need to pay for the
pay-channels that they have chosen from a bouquet, which have a similar fee package as with DTH and CAS. “As of now, there are nearly 100 channels available on IPTV, but that number is expected to scale up in the next few months,” says an industry player.
The user experience
With IPTV, users can expect personalisation and interactivity. IPTV will allow for gaming-on-demand and video-on-demand service which means that users will get to watch movies of their choice. The network of servers allows viewers to avail of value-adds like time shift that allows you to watch what you want to watch and when you want to watch, and even have live TV chat.
Ecommerce on IPTV
Remote surveillance is possible with IPTV which allows for TV commerce. With options like online home shopping, online banking and travel assistance, IPTV seems to be a good bet for businesses alike. IPTV may be used to deliver TV content over corporate LANs and business networks. The customised content delivery enabled by IPTV means reduced opportunities for theft of content.
Despite the advantages, IPTV does not come without its problems. Low broadband penetration means that it will take a while for IPTV to have a mass reach. India has just 18.17 lakh broadband connections because rates are high. Tariff ranges from Rs 900 to Rs 3,300 for home users while it varies between Rs 700 to Rs 9,000 for business users. That amount only covers data transfers of 250 kbps to 2 Mbps, and you have to pay by the megabyte if you run over the download limit. Bandwidth is also a constraint for IPTV providers.