IPTV tutorial-IPTV technology, features, IPTV architecture, IPTV STB, advantages

This IPTV tutorial covers IPTV technology basics including IPTV features, IPTV architecture, IPTV set top box and IPTV advantages.

About IPTV: The term IPTV is the short form of Internet Protocol Television. The technology is used to deliver digital television service using existing IP network. IPTV services include video on demand, live TV and time shifted programming.

The IPTV can be viewed on display either PC monitor or TV set using Set top box (STB) device. It requires broadband connection to access IPTV services. The STB helps to access desired channels as per subscription services as per demand. It helps to obtain interactive multimedia services over end to end secured connection with desired QoS.

IPTV services are deployed by various service providers such as cable TV carriers, satellite TV companies and telephone companies. In addition to video, IPTV technology offers VOIP (voice over IP) and web access for the data. This three services offered simultaneously by IPTV technology is known as triple play. The fourth feature i.e. mobile telephony gets added then the service is called as quadruple play.

Following are the features of IPTV:
• The technology supports interactive TV with bi-directional capabilities. Due to this, personalization is possible and hence users can pre-programmed what to watch (i.e. programs/channels) and when to watch.
• Network service providers can save bandwidth a lot as the contents are delivered as requested by the end users on the network infrastructure.
• The IPTV services are not only limited to the TV Set. The services can be achieved on Desktop PCs, laptops, mobiles, smartphones, tablets etc. The support of IPTV on multiple devices has made IPTV technology more popular.
• Due to time shifting feature, user can time shift the programming content. This has become possible due to advent of digital video recorder.
• The applications such as interactive games, internet, HDTV, live TV are available.
• Features such as pause TV, start-over TV, music on demand, weather information, video recorder, media players, internet browser are also available.

IPTV Architecture

IPTV architecture

• Let us understand working of IPTV technology. The figure-1 depicts IPTV Architecture. As shown it mainly consists of super head end, regional head end, local office and subscriber premises.
• At super head end, all the programs from national channels are downloaded and stored. These contents are processed and prepared for transmission over the high speed internet links such as DSL or FTTH (fiber to the home). The contents from super head end is distributed using MPEG-2 MPTS (Multi-Program Transport Stream) to video nodes at the regional ends. The multicast IP address is used for each of the channels for IPTV distibution.
• This are distributed to regional head end office where local contents mainly advertisements are combined and stored in on-demand servers. The same is distributed to local end offices using high speed wired internet links as well as using antenna to provide wireless connection.
• At the local office, data and telephone services are combined with IP video services using DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexers).
• The combined information is disributed to the subscriber premises using DSL (Digital Subscriber Loop) links or using fiber optic links. Depending upon applications of use, this input connection is converted into appropriate forms. For example, to obtain voice, the input is splitted using DSL splitter and fed to the telephone set; to obtain IP data, DSL modem is used to convert input to IP data form to be fed on desktop PC or laptop; to obtain video and audio STB is used and fed to TV set.


The role of IPTV set top box is to convert incoming IPTV compliant signal to video signal which can be displayed on user's TV set with the help of HDMI or AV cable or IR2 sensor or wifi. The other end of set top box is connected with internet router using RJ45 ethernet cable which bring high speed internet to the home from service provider. The set top box has other built-in functionalities which helps user to change the video programming as desired.

IPTV set top box

Following are the elements of IPTV set top box also known as IPTV STB.
• Network interface (RJ45) which is connected with router to obtain IPTV signal input.
• Provides video/audio outputs which can be connected with display/speaker inputs.
• Provides different user interaction interfaces viz. STB front panel, on screen display on PC/TV, IPTV remote control.
• Appropriate Hardware and software to provide secured content delivery and viewability.
• Scalable hard-disk is available to record and save the video programs. The figure-2 depicts IPTV set top box (STB). The figure depicts above mentioned interfaces and more.
Refer STB block diagram >> and STB manufacturers >> for more information.

IPTV Advantages

Following are the features advantages of IPTV technology:
• IPTV system works on the existing internet connection and it needs just IPTV set top box to avail the services.
• Latest versions of IPTV STB supports wifi and hence it works wirelessly without the need of cumbersome wiring.
• As IPTV is 100% digital, it is providing good quality of picture. It is slowly replacing the older analog TV sets.
• Multiple programs can be viewed simultaneously on the same display.
• It supports other applications in addition to video on demand such as data, voice and mobile telephony.
• The programs to be viewed can be stored on the storage servers and can be viewed as per schedule decided by the user with just clock of a IPTV remote.
• It helps to generate revenue for the service providers by way of displayed advertisements.

This IPTV tutorial will help one understand basics of IPTV technology. In order to gain more knowledge reader should be familiar with both IP (Internet Protocol) and digital TV technologies.


Television basics tutorial
TV channel Frequencies
Cable TV basics
Cable TV channel frequencies
Satellite TV basics
Digital TV basics
DTV standards
VSB modulation
Cable TV vs Satellite TV vs Digital TV
DVB-T vs DVB-S vs DVB-C vs DVB-H

Satellite related calculators

Satellite Slant Range Calculator
Geosynchronous satellite
Earth Station to Satellite Link Budget