Development of IPTV

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What exactly does IPTV mean? In the twenty first century, media is being disseminated more over data networks versus radio waves. Gone are the massive TV antennas that would pickup transmissions that consumers were accustomed to in the 1980s. And now in their place computers or receiving set top boxes (STB) are being used to show content on televisions. “Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is capable of delivering a rich set of ancillary services along with high quality TV content through Internet Protocol (IP) networks” (Bonastre, Montpetit , & Cesar , 2010). Internet Protocol (IP) operates on Internet or Network and Transport Layer depending on which model you are looking at OSI or TCP/IP. “…IP is an standard inside the larger TCP/IP standard architecture” (Panko & Panko, 2012).

This is not the same as watching a video on YouTube. IPTV must be able to deliver content to multiple consumers with a QoS guarantee. You wouldn’t be a likely continuing customer of a service provider such as AT&T U-verse or Verzion FiOS if you had to deal with jitter on a regular basis. That’s where the use of control protocols comes into play in meeting that QoS level for customers. Well as designing the network to deal with link failures with little notice in degradation of service.

The backend system to deliver service has numerous components at various locations. Companies call these offices by different names but they essentially serve the same purpose. A few offices can be categorized as Super hub office (SHO), Video hub office (VHO), Metro intermediate office (MIO), Video serving office (VSO), and Residential gateway (RG), etc. The IP packets go thru these offices ultimately to the customer set top box (STB). For the video to be delivered to the STB it has to be encoded and compressed. This happens in the backend system before it is sent out over the network.

Internet Protocol (IP) RFC 791 was created in September 1981 as DARPA Internet Program Protocol Specification. Since then there has been numerous RFCs to update Internet Protocol RFC 791. “Internet Protocol standards govern the transmission of packets across an Internet” (Panko & Panko, 2012). With IPTV the route that packets take to reach end users are important. As packet loss can greatly impact the video quality. Making sure there is and end-to-end connection established is paramount. A robust network architecture design is implemented to provide this connection.

The IPTV architecture above is a simplified layout of how the network can be arranged. This is just one of many ways to deliver service across an area. “…it applies to long distance backbone, metro, and access segments that delivers IPTV service in continental US” (Doverspike, et al., 2009).

Content is collected from national TV providers at the SHO to be distributed to VHO. As the diagram shows, VHO send the data out to metropolitan area routers for VSO to push out to customers STB. Between the VSO and customer STB are a few key components of the infrastructure. Two of these are digital subscriber line access multiplexers (DSLAMs) and residential gateways (RG). People see DSLAMs everyday and don’t realize exactly what service they provide. Those small-enclosed boxes on lawns are DSLAMs installed by the local telecom or cable provider. The RG is just that, a gateway for IPTV packets to be delivered to the STB in a user home. Taking a closer look of the network setup in the diagram below, you can get a deeper understanding of data packets travel and “…gives a flow of broadcast video through an IPTV network” (Doverspike, et al., 2009).

The network topology is mix of full mesh along with hub-and-spoke. It has redundant paths built in with two switches at the VSO/VHO. Moving down the network closer to customer level the VSO starts to resemble a hub-and spoke topology with all data going through one location. This topology is most cost effective of the two in delivery of services in an area. To get the data to multiple users a Protocol Independent Multicast, Source Specific Multicast (PIM-SSM) is utilized. At the VSO level PIM-SSM is not used but instead it uses Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP). Reason behind this is that VSO switches are not carrier grade routers. The network topology is design in such a way that a connection failure will not bring it to a halt.

As one can see from the diagram on previous page, multiple routes can be implemented if a link goes down. Depending on how the router or switch is setup to detect link failure. An alternate route can be established and the user not be aware their connection is being rerouted.   Along with packet buffering on the STB the handover can happen with little impact to IPTV service.

The protocol standards used with IP such as Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP) assist in delivering that QoS users have come to expect. RTP gives packets a sequence number that is used to ensure none are out of order. UDP does not take up much space as TCP would on the network. Since UDP does not provide error correction, multicast networks must have high integrity.

The network needs to have enough capacity to carry standard and high definition TV programs.  If uncompressed TV transmissions over IP would require bandwidth at a very high rate. To combat this videos are compressed so they will not take up much bandwidth space. Two methods used is MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 compression. MPEG-2 is and older but both standards are used in video transmission. MPEG-2 compresses standard TV video into 2.5 -3.5 Mbps and high definition TV into 16-19 Mbps (El-Sayed, Hu, Kulkarni, & Wilson, 2006). MPEG-4 compresses standard TV video into 1.5-2 Mbps and high definition TV into 6-8 Mbps (El-Sayed, Hu, Kulkarni, & Wilson, 2006).

IPTV is the future and with more areas getting high-speed Internet access, telecom and cable providers will be looking to gain market share as regular TV services are in decline.   With robust networks coming into stride, IPTV services are the logically avenue for customer and companies to pursue. “IPTV and Internet Video are becoming the de facto platforms for content and converged services to PCs. STBs and smart phones alike” (Montpetit, Klym, & Mirlacher, 2010).

This paper aimed to provided an introduction and answer the question “What is IPTV?” We have seen that IPTV is the transformation of old television service transmission applied to travel over IP networks. That allows users to record, rewind and pause shows making for a more interactive experience. I discussed a few protocols used RTP and UDP in transmission of data packet through the network. And looked at a simple network architecture design that could be used to deliver IPTV services.



Bonastre, O. M., Montpetit, M., & Cesar, P. (2011). IPTV: Challenges and future directions. Multimedia Tools and Applications,53(3), 481-485. doi:

Bouwman, H., Zhengjia, M., van, d. D., & Limonard, S. (2008). A business model for IPTV service: A dynamic framework. Info : The Journal of Policy, Regulation and Strategy for Telecommunications, Information and Media, 10(3), 22-38. doi:

Degrande, N., Vleeschauwer, D. D. and Laevens, K. (2008), Protecting IPTV against packet loss: Techniques and trade-offs. Bell Labs Tech. J., 13: 35–51. doi: 10.1002/bltj.20281

Doverspike, R., Li, G., Oikonomou, K. N., Ramakrishnan, K. K., Sinha, R. K., Wang, D., & Chase, C. (2009). Designing a reliable IPTV network. IEEE Internet Computing, 13(3), 15-22. doi:

Ellis, L. (2009). IPTV and bandwidth. Multichannel News, 30(39), 22-n/a. Retrieved from

El-Sayed, M. L., Hu, Y., Kulkarni, S. and Wilson, N. (2006), Comparison of transport network technologies for IPTV distribution. Bell Labs Tech. J., 11: 215–240. doi: 10.1002/bltj.20171

IPTV. (2004). Cablefax Daily, 15(197), 1. Retrieved from

Kanellopoulos, D., Mikoczy, E., & Vidal, I. (2012, March). IPTV evolution towards NGN and hybrid scenarios. Informatica, 36(1), 3+. Retrieved from



Khamiss, N. N. (2013). IP (Kanellopoulos, Mikoczy, E., & Vidal, I., 2012)TV traffic over pDSL: Performance and analysis evaluation. International Journal of Advancements in Computing Technology, 5(8), 953-970. Retrieved from

Lee, S., Park, N., & Choi, J. (2012). Secure communication in IPTV broadcasting. Journal Of Supercomputing, 62(1), 42-52. doi:10.1007/s11227-011-0582-8

Panko, Raymond R.; Panko, Julia (2012-10-09). Business Data Networks and Security (9th Edition) . Pearson HE, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Poole, I. I. (2007). What exactly is IPTV?. Communications Engineer, 5(6), 44-45. doi:10.1049/ce:20070610

Mellia, M. and Meo, M. (2010), Measurement of IPTV traffic from an operative network. Eur. Trans. Telecomm., 21: 324–336. doi: 10.1002/ett.1401

Montpetit, M., Klym, N., & Mirlacher, T. (2011). The future of IPTV. Multimedia Tools and Applications, 53(3), 519-532. doi:



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