IPTV – The Future of Multicast Content Delivery

At home in our living room, we have our LCD TV hooked up to the Foxtel IQ2 (which is a fantastic device by the way) but there are times when we both want to watch something at the same time and time shifting is simply not an option. One such case tonight was when I wanted to watch Hey Hey it’s Saturday (on a Wednesday) and the missus wanted to catch Project Runway.

This might be a bit of a problem for some who may be relegated to another room perhaps with a smaller television, tinny sound and uncomfortable seating.

Luckily for me, TPG provides free IPTV (including free to air channels in Sydney). There are limitations with the service such as only one channel being streamed over the connection at any one time (which means if two people want to watch different IPTV channels, you’re toast). Also, the implementation of IPTV that TPG provides to its customers doesn’t seem to work too well over 802.11g WiFi networks which would be problematic if you want to take an older laptop elsewhere in the house.

Those issues aside, the picture quality and frame rate are comparable to standard definition digital broadcasts. TPG does also offer a small collection of full high-definition channels for free-to-air channels (except Channels 7 and 9 for some unknown reason). Certainly on larger displays, the higher resolution channels make for a better viewing experience.

So is IPTV something worth watching on the radar?

Personally, I think we will start to see more of it, particularly from the larger telcos who will want a slice of the digital content pie and chase after the triple play of telephony, television and Internet access. It might also be an opportunity for smaller content creators to get into the market without having to negotiate with the media conglomerates. I’d also be keen to see mobile devices capable of IPTV once mobile networks have enough bandwidth to support such applications.

I guess we will see how this technology takes off over the next decade but I think it has plenty of promise.

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