IPTV stands for “Internet Protocol Television”. “IP” in IPTV is the same as your IP or VoIP (Voice over IP) address. All this means is that TV programming is communicated using Internet Protocol.
To understand what this means, you need to know a bit more about how non-IPTV works. With cable or satellite television, broadcasters send signals and viewers receive them. You can only watch what is being broadcast. Unless you have some sort of recording device, you can’t dictate what happens and when. You log in when you can and see what’s available.
IPTV is different. Instead of transmitting content via light pulses over a fiber-optic cable or radio waves from a satellite, IPTV sends shows and movies through your standard Internet connection. (You may be using a cable or satellite internet connection, but these are independent of the ones that typically carry your TV signals.)
Instead of showing a range of shows on a specific schedule, most IPTVs use video on demand (VOD) or the media is time shifted.
There is a complicated network architecture behind it all to make it work, including a lot of transcoding from traditional signals to IP compatible signals. But the important thing is that you don’t have to watch what’s on the air. You can tell your provider what you want to watch and they’ll send it to you immediately.
Do you need a decoder for IPTV?
Since most televisions are not equipped for IPTV, you may need a set-top box that “translates” what you receive through your Internet connection into a format that your television can play.
Your computer, on the other hand, does not need anything to watch IPTV. Once you sign up for a service, you can use it to stream whatever you want in any of the IPTV formats.
So if you can mirror your screen to your TV, you can watch IPTV without a set-top box.
Many TV providers are now taking a hybrid approach to IPTV to solve some of the problems associated with all-IP broadcasts. IPTV requires a lot of bandwidth to transmit a ton of data at high speed.
Hybrid IPTV combines traditional television services with IP-based ones. The main selling point is that everything comes in one box. This allows TV providers to extend their offerings to their subscribers.
It also makes it easier to roll out new products and services without completely overhauling the set-top box. This is a good way to go from a traditional model to a more modern model.
As time goes by, companies will refine and improve the content they offer television over IP. They will be able to offer a greater number of channels, since the limit is set by the capacity of the servers and the bandwidth required for the demand. As it spreads, the way we watch television will change. We can see the movie or program we want at the time we want and we will see only what we decide to see. It will be a television “on demand” made entirely to the taste of each viewer.