How an IPTV TV System compares to Cable, Satellite, and OTT

There is a variety of different TV system available on the market today. There’s Cable TV, Satellite TV, IPTV, and OTT streaming as well.


On the market today there are a variety of different TV systems. There is cable TV, satellite TV, IPTV and last but not least OTT (over-the-top) streaming. And making the right decision about which TV connection is best for your situation can be very difficult. Why IPTV? We have briefly summarized all the information you need to make the right decision.

Usually, more options mean more power to the consumer. However, this is only true if you understand the specifics of each TV connection well enough to make an informed decision.



The basics of television


There are several ways to play television programs on your TV screen. You can go the traditional route and connect to the broadcast network, you can stream only the content you want over the Internet, or you can set up a dedicated IPTV system and enjoy the best of both worlds.


Suitable broadcast networks:
● Satellite TV
● Cable television



As the name implies, broadcast networks broadcast the television program from a distribution center and allow you to "tune in" to the channels that the broadcast signal carries. To achieve this, cable providers TV TV use their own physical network connected to a coaxial cable. The satellite TV, on the other hand, uses radio waves that travel by air from a communications satellite directly to the consumer's location, where they are received by a satellite dish.


Applicable Internet networks:
● OTT streaming



Unlike cable and satellite networks, which transmit content in real time, IP networks transmit data packets from the server to the user's terminal only upon request. This principle is known as the Internet Protocol and also enables the delivery of e-mail, the use of websites, and the use of various other cloud services.


Both IPTV and OTT services provide content via the same Internet protocol, so they are very similar in this respect. However, they differ in the way they distribute their content. OTT basically streams over the Internet, while IPTV requires a private, dedicated network.


IPTV and OTT services primarily transmit content that is stored on the server, so users can access that content over the Internet at any time. However, a dedicated IPTV system can do both, and that is where its strength lies.




Types of television networks



Even if you have never heard of IPTV, there's a good chance that you have already used it without knowing it. Actually, anyone who has watched live channels TV or video on demand through their digital television service has experienced IPTV in its essential form. Due to its attractive features and future-proof technology, IPTV is now a very attractive alternative to cable or digital satellite broadcasts that is worth taking a closer look at.


In simple terms, IPTV refers to a process in which both live video TV and stored video (on-demand or pay-per-view) are transmitted to the end user via the same network as Internet content.


It is a different way of distributing broadcast-quality content to consumers. Broadcast-quality content in this case represents all the features consumers expect from their digital television service provider, including popular channels on HD. From the user's perspective, IPTV provides an experience similar to traditional cable or satellite television. Turn on TV, select a channel with the remote control, and enjoy the program. However, because IPTV uses the Internet Protocol to deliver digital content, providers soon realized that they could integrate different services across platforms, leading to a convergence of voice, data and TV over the same network, all using the same language, through one provider.







Many, if not all, of the cable systems in use today are hybrid fiber-coaxial networks. These are basically the same as the hybrid fiber-coaxial network that delivers broadband Internet to your home via cable.


However, before the signal reaches your home, it is transmitted in the form of radio waves from a communications satellite to your cable provider's distribution center, called a headend. At the headend, the radio signal is modulated for distribution over a fiber-optic cable, which then transmits the signal at high speed over a physical network.


The fiber transmits the signal, along with the television channels and Internet data, to a communications node near you, where the network is converted from fiber to coaxial cable. For a better illustration, you can think of the main fiber optic line as a tree and the individual copper coaxial cables as the branches that spread out to the individual units in that area. This is the main reason why cable links are called shared links.


Before the signal is transmitted to your home, it is demodulated at the local node so that it can be passed over the coaxial cables. The final destination of this signal is a IPTV TV system, your set-top box, or the TV itself if it is equipped with the necessary hardware and software to decode the incoming data into video and audio that can be played back on TV. A specific frequency is reserved for each channel in your cable plan, and when you switch between channels, you set those frequencies.


Have you ever wondered how your cable provider prevents you from accessing all the channels it offers? In the analog era, it was encrypted signals, but in the digital age, access to subscriptions is regulated by encryption. Before the signal leaves the cable provider's distribution center, it is encrypted and decrypted with keys on the user's end. Web security works similarly, often switching between different encryption approaches to prevent hacking. It should be noted that analog cable signal transmission is very different from digital, which dominates the market today.







We've already learned that cable providers TV intercept satellite transmissions in the initial stages of their distribution network before sending the signal over a physical wire to their end customers. Satellite providers TV, on the other hand, send a wireless signal from the satellite to the end customer's satellite dish. Today, there are two forms of satellite reception TV: TVRO (television-only reception) and DBS (Direct Broadcast Satellite, or "direct to home" DBSTV).


In general, TVRO technology is somewhat older than DBS technology. This is evidenced by the much smaller dish required for DBS to receive a 100% digital high frequency signal, as opposed to the much larger dish required to receive the low frequency, digital/analog TVRO broadcasts. The TV satellite shares satellite radio bandwidth with mobile radio signals and radar systems in the 3-30 GHz range.


From the satellite dish, the signal is relayed either to a dedicated IPTV headend or directly to the end user's set-top box, which decodes and displays the content. Similar to cable TV, the channels are encrypted to prevent uncontrolled access.


So far, the satellite TV sounds very promising, but it's not entirely free of shortcomings. Due to the use of high frequency radio waves, the signal is more susceptible to interference. Nevertheless, the TV satellite is generally the best choice for areas where a physical connection is simply not possible.




OTT streaming



Netflix, HBO now and Roku are among the most popular OTT content providers available today. The interesting thing about these providers is that they deliver their content in a different way than we've known before. Because they don't have their own infrastructure, these third-party providers can't stream content in the traditional sense. Instead, they only stream purchased and requested content directly to the end user's device over the same infrastructure that connects the user to the Internet.


Streaming high-quality video requires a reliable Internet connection with sufficient bandwidth to support email exchanges, Internet browsing, and other Internet activities simultaneously. Fortunately, broadband and fiber optic technologies have developed rapidly in recent years, allowing this technical hurdle to be overcome. In fact, video and audio streaming accounted for over 70% of Internet traffic in the U.S. in 2015, indicating a bright future for OTT streaming.


Due to the nature of the Internet, OTT streaming faces the same issues as any other Internet-based service. Long load times, reduced speeds due to multiple connections, and improper setup of home wireless networks all affect the quality of the OTT content streaming experience.


Issues like these have driven the development of complex systems for managing streaming data. When you download a generic file like an image from the Internet, you always have to wait for the file to download as a whole. Streaming video is quite different from that.


Content is broken down into smaller fragments and delivered individually at the time you want it. The smaller data fragments allow for a fast transfer, so the content is displayed almost instantly. Occasionally, the streaming device reports "buffering", but this only means that the data transfer was interrupted for a short time.


To ensure the best possible streaming experience for most network connection types, OTT content providers package video and audio content into media containers that can be broken into small fragments. Using a time-based transmission protocol, the media container is fragmented and then continuously streamed to the end user.







There is an enormous amount of information to analyze and compare to determine if one IPTV TV system is really better than other alternatives. But that's not the goal here. Instead, we want to focus on some key areas that already make IPTV superior and future-proof.


The first and arguably most important area is the infrastructure that makes it all possible. Fiber optic technology has evolved to the point where it outperforms any other type of network. The exceptional bandwidth that fiber offers compared to copper and DBS is the main reason why IPTV is able to support "uncompressed" and "source quality" HD.


What about the number of channels? Large facilities such as hotels, where there are hundreds of guests with different preferences, benefit from the fact that the fiber network allows a IPTV TV system with a virtually infinite number of channels.


Speaking of hotels, just about any existing system in hotels TV can be upgraded with IPTV technology. Ideally, CAT5/CAT6 or fiber optic cables should be installed, as they allow for easy connection of IPTV equipment. However, an existing coax network can also be used, as it is also suitable for IP data transmission.



There is more than meets the eye



The transition from an analog system TV to a system IPTV TV is often referred to as a "digital switchover" In most cases, the issue is the picture quality on the screen TV. Is a digital image really that much better than an analog one?


In fact, it is very difficult to tell the difference when comparing an image delivered by a high-quality analog device with a "digital" image on the screen of TV. However, image quality should not be the main reason for switching to a IPTV TV system, because there are a number of other advantages that are not obvious at first glance:

Simplicity A typical IPTV headend is a very small and uncomplicated device, which translates into easy maintenance. It also consumes less power, generates less noise and heat, and requires less space than traditional analog solutions.
Solution Management Since all the devices in the IPTV TV system communicate with each other via the IP protocol, it is possible to control all aspects of the system very quickly and efficiently via a web browser and a user-friendly interface.
Diagnostics and Alarms An IPTV headend can immediately inform you of potential problems throughout the system. Let's say the signal level from the dishes gets too low or the signal from TV is disturbed in one of the guest rooms. The system will tell you exactly where and why the problem occurred, so you can intervene quickly to avoid channel failures and unhappy guests.
Stable Quality Unlike analog solutions, a digital IPTV TV system is not affected by noise, signal interference or network deviations. Once the system is set up, it consistently delivers a high-quality audio/video experience to all connected devices.
Infrastructure Solutions Wherever possible, CAT5/6 or fiber optic cables are installed to ensure optimal digital signal transmission. Analog headends are not compatible with CAT5/6 cables, but digital headends can be connected to existing coax, fiber, and CAT5/6 networks.
Added Services A IPTV TV system can offer a variety of additional features not possible with analog systems. Electronic program guide (EPG), catchup, timeshift, audio language selection, and subtitle selection are just a few examples. It is also possible to offer upselling services, so that guests in a hotel can order food via their TV screen.
High Definition (HD) Channels IPTV can transmit as many HD TV channels as needed. The IPTV headend decodes the incoming signal and distributes the content to all connected devices. This is a major advantage over analog solutions, where the HD format is not accessible due to the use of central analog decoders and modulators.
Power Consumption Even the most modern analog headends can consume about 20 watts per channel, which means 2000 watts for 100 channels. This is a big difference from an IPTV headend that consumes 300 watts but can serve 200 TV channels. Consequently, the power costs are much lower with a IPTV TV system.




Convergence of technologies



Remember when VoIP became available? Consumers around the world quickly realized the benefits of this new technology, which allowed them to access and control their phone service over the Internet. This was made possible by the convergence of two technologies: voice and data.

Now try to imagine the possibilities that could arise from the convergence of voice, data, wireless and digital television. The thought that you could control your TV with voice commands from your phone is breathtaking. Or that you could customize your TV to display up-to-date information about the weather, stocks and traffic reports, just like the Internet.

Combining TV channels and video-on-demand over Internet protocol, advanced fiber infrastructure, wireless networking and convergence of services, IPTV has potential like no other system on the market today. Whether at home, on a cruise ship or in a hotel, anywhere in the world, users can enjoy the latest content, interact and communicate at the same time - all through a single IPTV TV system.




A glimpse into the future



While most television networks still have their place in the market, the future will bring greater demand for high-quality content and integration of third-party services that currently can only be supported by IPTV. With a range of state-of-the-art IPTV products that are essential to the successful implementation of any IPTV project, Nevron is ready for the future! To make a proper decision about the Hospitality TV solution, you are invited to contact a Nevron IPTV consultant. Both Hospitality TV solutions will be presented to you. The advantages and disadvantages of both solutions will be discussed in detail so that you can fully understand them. Please email


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Published on March 6, 2018

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