This post is first in a series in which IPTV services in Pakistan will be discussed.  First an introduction to IPTV: in simple terms IPTV is television content that, instead of being delivered through traditional formats and cabling, is received by the viewer through the technologies (IP) used for computer networks. IPTV provides multimedia services via a broadband connection with the help of a set-top box (STB) which resembles a traditional cable box. A single connection (fiber optic, copper or cable) coming to your premise can serve phone, TV and Internet service – terms such as FTTH or FTTP are used when fiber optic cable is being used for higher bandwidth transmission.

See the full post at the new site.

Why IPTV? IPTV is an imporant piece of the Triple Play puzzle. Many telecom companies are using it to create a sticky bundle for customers, the idea is that if a customer gets all services from a provider he or she can be offered a better deal and therefore is less likely to switch providers. I, for one, use bundles at home and find it convenient to have one bill and one phone number for customer service.

Triple play is also great for offering enhanced and converged services (not all are feasible, though) such as :

• TV and video services such as video-on-demand (VoD), subscription, live TV channel lineup packaging and scheduling, and network-based digital video recorder capabilities
• Additional “blended” communications applications such as get an alert of phone call on your TV, text chat, live traffic information (even using your cell phone as a remote – seriously!)
• Personal media applications such as uploading of photographs and video clips and sharing of music and video content across multiple in-home devices

What is the situation of IPTV in Pakistan’s market today? It is all about broadband availability and affordability and till now Pakistan has miserably lagged behind on this. I am hopeful that things will change for better in the next 2-4 years. The policy and regulatory framework is set by PTA. Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) monitors and regulates the electronic media and it issues IPTV licneces as well.  I know about the following companies which can/will offer IPTV: PTCL, Wateen and Nayatel. There is little information available about PTCL plans (see some discussion here) but it is likely that they will offer IPTV over DSL using technologies from various foreign vendors (see below); for Wateen I’ve previously written here. Recently Brain has also advertised limited launch of IPTV service.

According to some resources PTCL may launch IPTV service on 23rd March 2007 to pilot users -with a broader launch to 20,000 subscribers in the first half of this year. In terms of its strategy IPTV must be a top priority for PTCL. It all comes to execution and creating a value package. PTCL launch is supported by Chinese telecom equipment giant Huawei and Irdeto, the Netherlands-based content security company. Huawei will provide the servers and set-top boxes (see Hua wei’s IPTV architecture below) and Irdeto will provide content security solution. 

The Irdeto IPTV security solution integrated into the Huawei IPTV system provides for a full video product and service offering, including broadcast TV, video on demand, PVR and Time Shift TV. Within the Irdeto IPTV security framework, content is securely stored and distributed across any broadband IP network and the corresponding content rights can be managed on an individual subscriber and/or device basis.

World Situation of IPTV (source)
France tops the list, with 896,000 IPTV subscribers. Next are, in order, Hong Kong, Spain, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Morocco, Russia, the United Kingdom and Sweden. Most of the world’s IPTV subscribers (68%) are in Western Europe, and 28% are in Asia. North America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa combined make up only 8% of the world’s 2.7 million IPTV subscribers.

Competition and the spread of pan-European carriers will likely drive continued growth in Western Europe and the recent removal of regulatory restrictions in Japan will probably drive IPTV growth there. U.S is likely to lag the rest of the world for some time.

Some of the related topics include – these will be discussed in more details in later posts:

  • Architectural Evolution of IPTV
  • Quality Concerns: Monitoring the IPTV Experience
  • Managing the Content and User Experience
  • _______________________________________________________________________

    Additional Resources for IPTV:

  • IT Insight on IPTV
  • Wikipedia
  • India’s IPTV Unreality
  • PB Wiki on IPTV
  • IP Telephony on IPTV
  • Microsoft IPTV Edition
  • Advertisements