Even after years of discussion, there is still a lot of ambiguity around the term IPTV. Some people use it to refer to IP video that runs over the top of an Internet network. Others use the term to refer to IP video that is delivered down a quality-assured, operator-managed broadband pipe. In the last year there’s been a lot of talk about over-the-top online video services, but the legitimate excitement around online video may be masking a bigger issue: how operators are now approaching non-Internet-based IPTV.
AT&T delivers TV over an all-IP network today, and Verizon uses a hybrid IP/QAM network. Although most of their services to date have been comparable to those offered by cable operators, we’re starting to see some differentiation in the form of widgets and cross-platform services. Cable is not ignoring this. In addition to tru2way, the cable industry is looking at where and how to integrate IP video into their traditional QAM delivery system.
There are many, many implications and issues to explore around the delivery of IP video for cable, but here are two early points of interest. First, operators recently started taking advantage of cable modems integrated within the set-top. Second, Motorola’s scientists and engineers have identified methods to allow operators to:
- Deliver IP video over the CMTS (traditional DOCSIS delivery)
- Bypass the CMTS and drive traffic straight through to the edge QAM
- Deliver video across both paths simultaneously
It’s an exciting topic, and there’s much more to the story. But the opportunities ahead shouldn’t be underestimated. Cable is paying close attention to IPTV.