IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is television content that, instead of being delivered through traditional broadcast and cable formats, is received by the viewer through the same technologies used to deliver information through computer networks, including the Internet. The procedure involves sending and receiving data through "packets" of information. This is the same process in which IPTV is made available to customers.
Although IPTV uses the same "packet" conveyance method as the Internet, there is one main difference; IPTV is delivered through separate, closed networks which are independent of the Internet itself. This provides enhanced speed, quality, and usability when compared to Internet TV, analog cable, or satellite TV. Unlike satellite or cable, the only IPTV channel being delivered to your television is the individual channel you select from the program guide – resulting in a much faster and more efficient viewing experience.
It is due to this enhanced efficiency that allows IPTV to provide interactive features to its audience. Some of these features may include interactive program guides, on-screen caller ID, and hard drive recording.
It is because of the high quality of sound and picture, interactive features, and greater reliability that IPTV is becoming ever more popular. In fact, all US television broadcasts will be exclusively digital as of February 17, 2009 by order of the Federal Communications Commission. This is to help keep a level of uniformity of broadcasts among providers as technologies continue to advance.
In addition, several large telecommunication carriers and equipment manufacturers hope to accelerate the deployment of IPTV services by supporting a set of interoperable technology specifications. Programs such as the Open IPTV Forum are attempting to create open standards and define deployment specifications.
The goal of these programs is to assure full compatibility and interoperability between services, providers, and devices for the benefit of consumers, as well as to both improve and continuously develop usability through a certain degree of standardization.
Internet protocol television also boasts greater quality and reliability than traditional cable or satellite television providers. The picture and audio is superior to that of cable television, and IPTV does not face the same logistic limitations of satellite TV.
IPTV provides cutting-edge quality and usability and is designed to serve over 20 million households by 2008. After the federally mandated switch-over to digital broadcasts in 2009, an even greater rise in use can be expected.