Tuesday, May 29, 2007
IPTV basically uses broadband Internet technology to deliver television programming to homes one channel at a time. IPTV actually has many advantages over normal cable TV. For example, since it's really a video on demand service, IPTV doesn't require as much bandwidth as normal cable TV. That's because, unlike cable TV, IPTV only delivers one channel to a home at a time, which has a number of implications like the fact that existing copper wires can be used rather than requiring expensive upgrades to fiber optics.
Of course, all of that is the theory. The reality of AT&T's IPTV service has turned out to be less elegant and surely less practical. For example, numerous software glitches have been reported that get in the way of enjoyment of the actual TV programming. Another problem has been making the service attractive to customers. Basically, for a new service to be attractive it ideally should be cheaper and offer more features than existing services. Unfortunately, it's not yet clear to what extent IPTV can do either. The fact that it doesn't require massive bandwidth upgrades to implement lends itself well to being cheap. The fact that the technology is largely experimental and requires a lot of servers, goes a long way towards making it more expensive. As far as having features that make it more attractive, HDTV is obviously the main thing to focus on at this point and the fact that bandwidth isn't as much of an issue with this system means that it lends itself well to HDTV. The problem with HDTV is that it still has to be compressed in order to be delivered over the existing bandwidth, and apparently the compression technology is giving AT&T and Microsoft trouble.
In all, IPTV may be one of the major TV delivery technologies of the future, but unfortunate business circumstances and the fact that Internet technology in general may not be ready for it, may keep it from being developed right now.