Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Managed IPTV Systems are Evolving to Unmanaged Internet TV Systems

The differences between managed IPTV and unmanaged Internet TV systems and services are decreasing. Managed IPTV is the delivery of IP television services over a managed (controlled) broadband access network. Managed IPTV systems can control and guarantee the quality of television services. Managed IPTV systems are traditionally provided by telephone (telco) or cable service providers. Internet TV is the delivery of digital television services over public (unmanaged) broadband data connections. Internet TV systems may be able to control and guarantee the quality of television services if the underlying broadband connections have enough bandwidth.

The friction between managed IPTV and Internet TV system equipment and service providers seems to be a repeat of the evolution of managed telephone and Internet telephony. As access bandwidth increased to over 1 Mbps, the differences between managed and unmanaged telecom voice systems (such as Vonage) has decreased. Operators of managed telecom systems are now installing and operating more flexible unmanaged voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) systems.

To bridge the gap between managed IPTV and Internet TV services, I’m seeing Hybrid systems that allow set top boxes to receive and display a mix of managed television signals (IPTV, cable, satellite) and unmanaged television signals (Internet TV). These systems provide the customer with a mix of high quality content sources (HD and SD) along with high value (HV) content (such as international programs distributed through Internet connections).

As this evolution continues, I’m anticipating that managed IPTV systems are likely to expand their networks into other countries through the use of broadband Internet systems. IPTV operators can leverage their relationship with content suppliers and use their asset management systems to offer television services in other countries without having to own or even operate the broadband access networks. This process may start by managed IPTV operators offering IPTV roaming services (similar to Slingbox). IPTV roaming is the capability for an IPTV subscriber to access the content (e.g. television programs) offered by their IPTV service provider through other communication systems (such as broadband data connections in hotel rooms).

Managed IPTV is evolving to Internet TV

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