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  • 1. IPTV Has Become a Global Reality and Has Improved Quality of Service Subbarao V. Wunnava Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering Florida International University Vivek Jayaram Research Associate, Electrical and Computer Engineering Florida International University 1.0 Abstract Internet protocol television (IPTV) has been evolving at such a rapid rate that several countries, corporations, and organizations are competing for this explosive market [1]. The advances in gigabit Ethernet passive optical networks (GEPON), asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL), very-high–data-rate DSL (VDSL) technologies, and broadband-access networks have made IPTV deployment very practical and cost-effective. Just like cell-phone technology has virtually replaced conventional wired telephone activity, IPTV is fast competing with conventional broadcast television. While the acceptance of IPTV is global, European and Asian countries are showing more preparedness to adapt this new and challenging technology [2]. IPTV has the capabilities for interactivity, selectivity, and synchronous or asynchronous interaction with the end user. From the IPTV provider point of view, IPTV definitely offers the advantage of targeting end users for advertisements and programs in a cost-effective way. In addition, providers are opting to open a new market for themselves, where they can provide voice, data, and video on the same access network to the end user. In IPTV deployment, the integration of operations support system (OSS) features, such as network management and maintenance, congestion control, and end-user billing, will improve quality of service (QoS) and customer satisfaction [3]. This integration also helps the IPTV providers (which are significantly the telephone companies [telcos]) in expanding their business [2]. In this article, the authors will present the functional architecture of the IPTV system, the impact of passive optical networks (PONs) and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) on IPTV deployment, the competitive landscape for future developments of IPTV, and the growth of IPTV. Also, issues relating to customer satisfaction, the gradual enhancement from standard-definition television (SDTV) to high-definition television (HDTV), and the triple service of voice, data, and video from the same IPTV provider will be discussed. 2.0 Introduction The Internet has been traditionally considered to be a digital transmitting medium, with packets of digital data being transmitted from the source to the destination. Television has been traditionally considered to be a broadcast operation with analog information. There is
  • 2. considerable confusion and concern about IPTV, since two different technologies have to be mended together to provide the end customers with something better than conventional television. With this underlying principle, IPTV will bring interactivity between the IPTV provider and the end user, making any interconversions of the analog and digital data and the protocols totally transparent to the end user. Also, traditional TV customers are not used to any latency or delay while changing the channel to get to new programs. IPTV will have to guarantee minimum latency in providing continuous video framing, not only during normal video viewing, but also during channel switches [4]. The entertainment industry is very actively pursuing IPTV deployments as a new source of revenue and business opportunities. However, they are equally concerned about the pirating of information by intruders. Especially when the Internet is used, network intrusion has to be prevented, and intrusion detection should be built into IPTV distributions. The authors will also discuss these issues and possible solutions in this article. 3.0 General IPTV Considerations 3.1 IPTV Standards Because of the momentum with which IPTV infrastructure development and deployment are taking place, the industry realized the need for IPTV standards [4]. Such standards are extremely essential in order to make the IPTV configuration functional with different hardware and software platforms. These standards are evolving rapidly, integrating broadcast TV standards, video-on- demand standards, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 standards, Internet protocol suite standards, and several related standards. The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) has recently launched an IPTV standards forum [5], and industry experts such as Microsoft, Cisco, Adtran, several Bell operating companies, and several others are expected to participate. The Internet Activities Board (IAB) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) communiqués are supposed to be integrated with the evolving IPTV standards. Any issues may be communicated to the ATIS through their Web site, www.atis.com. 3.2 IPTV Architecture 3.2.1 Broadcast, Video on Demand, and Encoding Along with IPTV standards, the system architecture is also evolving. Figure 1 shows one of the leading IPTV architectures initiated by Microsoft Corporation, widely followed in the United States [6]. IPTV should be able to deliver broadcast television, as well as video on demand. Each of these video sources will be encoded digitally in the encoder unit. Internally, it contains buffer memory, exchange servers, and needed electronics to implement the necessary bit encoding. Also, necessary error-detection and -correction capabilities for the video frames are incorporated in the encoder unit. The encoded information is stored in memory buffers. As the information is streamed out from these buffers, new video information is then stored in the buffers, and the cycle repeats. 3.2.2 Video Streaming IPTV is dependent upon the IP packets being transmitted on the Internet protocol suite. Because of the latency and fastness requirements, these packets are transmitted over the IP using the Internet group management protocol (IGMP) [7]. Unlike the connection-oriented transmission control protocol (TCP) with acknowledgments, IGMP is completely packet-bound, without end- to-end peer connection, but provides a faster transmission mechanism for the packets. Using the IP packets, the video-streaming server will stream the stored video information in the encoder, with each packet having its own identification and sequence number. This is necessary, since through the Internet, the packets may be received in or out of sequence at the receiving end. In
  • 3. addition, if there is an integrated voice, it is the responsibility of the video-streaming server to synchronize the voice appropriately with the video framing for transmission. 3.2.3 Management and Control The primary reasons for customers opting for IPTV are the interactivity between the end user and the IPTV service provider; the triple play of voice, video, and data; and the capability of having a network-based personal video recording (nPVR). These functions are accomplished in the subscriber management unit. This unit is the real gateway between the Internet and the video- streaming servers [8]. The other functions of the OSS, such as billing and the sequencing of events and processes, are also accomplished in this management unit. 3.2.4 The Set-Top Box (STB) The STB is a system that enables a television set to become a user interface to the Internet and has the capability to decode digital television (DTV) broadcasts to be viewed on existing analog television sets. In Figure 1, the STB receives the integrated multimedia or triple-play information (consisting of video, audio, and data) from the Internet. The Web-browsing information comes on the TCP/IP suite. The video information comes on the IGMP/IP suite. The STB distinguishes these and reassembles the information to be suitable for the conventional TV display. Also, present-day STB units have integrated capabilities for parsing MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 information for appropriate video and audio synchronizations. The hardware consists of one or more microprocessors, at least 512-megabyte random access read/write memory (RAM), and several gigabytes of hard-drive or optical memory. Present-day STB units either have Windows or Linux operating systems, although some come with their own custom operating systems [9]. Several companies, such as Advanced Digital Broadcast, Samsung, Alcatel, Microsoft, Siemens, ZTE, [10], [11], and several others are involved in the development and the manufacture of STB units. 3.2.5 The Home Computer as the STB Because of the very nature of the STB with processing and data-acquisition capabilities, a home computer can be configured as an STB unit. The same type of interface exists between the computer and the TV set as between the STB and the TV. The computer can be performing other tasks, in addition to the STB functions. However, it is well documented that there should be interactive software in the computer system, which will give priority to the STB operations in a multitasking environment. It is expected that computer systems will ultimately replace STB units. 4.0 IPTV Competitive Landscape Home computers, the Internet, and television all have become extremely successful because of multi-vendor participation, multi-organizational development, and wide end-user acceptance. Such a successful environment requires a competitive landscape of fully functional units, with multiple interface capabilities. Figure 2 shows the basic units required for successful deployment and implementation of IPTV. There are dozens of vendors for each of these units. UTStarcom has some well-established IPTV services [12].
  • 4. Set Top Box Broadcast (STB) TV Encoder Source Streaming Internet Management Computer Streaming Video on Computer Demand Encoder Monitor Source FIGURE 1: General IPTV Architecture Streaming Operational Set-Top-Box Server Middleware Support System Encoder (STB) (OSS) Video & Multi Media Decoder, Electronic Programming Video Storage & Network Monitoring, Billing Etc EPG Client, Web Client Etc Encoding of Video Streaming Web Browser Etc Subscriber Management, Guide (EPG), FIGURE 2: IPTV Competitive Landscape (Courtesy: UTSTARCOM Corporation)
  • 5. 4.1 The Encoder and the Streaming-Server Capabilities Each unit in Figure 2 is an embedded intelligent system, adhering to IPTV–oriented standards and protocols. For example, the encoder unit will have MPEG-2 with DVD–level video encoding at 6 Mbps, and MPEG-4 with added high-definition video capabilities at 10 Mbps. The QoS of the entire IPTV depends upon the efficiency and the fault tolerance in the streaming server. To store 10-second video, following the MPEG-4 at the rate of 10 Mbps (as specified in the ITU H.264 standard), the buffer size will have to be 100 Mb or 12.5 Mbytes. For a typical 100- channel video stream, the buffer storage will have to be 1.25 gigabytes. In the present-day streaming servers, there are input and output buffers, each approximately 1.25 gigabytes. In addition, the streaming server has the capability to add the channel numbers, sequence numbers for the packets from each channel buffer, and additional fault-tolerance and fault-correction schemes. Again, the streaming server can be considered to be an embedded computer system. 4.2 The Middleware and the STB Capabilities The middleware unit has interface capabilities with the Internet and the rest of the units in the landscape of Figure 2. The electronic programming guide (EPG) is essential for end users to be kept informed about the IPTV programs available. Also, this is the unit that will integrate the advertisements and target the appropriate customer base. In addition, this unit maintains and updates the database with customer profiles. In essence, it is also an embedded computer system [13]. As already mentioned, the STB unit is essential for decoding the encoded multimedia information coming from the Internet. It also performs the fault corrections and decodes, recovers, and synchronizes the video and audio information. Also, it converts the recovered information into the format acceptable for the television. Like the streaming server, the middleware is also a computer system, with the added capability of analog conversion of the digital multimedia information, to be presented to the television. 4.3 The OSS Capabilities The OSS follows the ITU recommendation series M-3000 and is based on the open systems interconnection (OSI) specifications of the ITU X.700 series. Also, present-day OSS systems adhere to the protocol of the telecommunications management network (TMN) of the ITU [14]. The five functional layers established by the TMN for the OSS may be summarized as the following: 1. Business Management 2. Service Management 3. Network Management 4. Element Management 5. Elements The network management is further classified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), using fault, configuration, accounting, performance, and security (FCAPS), which is being globally accepted. Any of these landscape units for IPTV implementation can be obtained from respective vendors, following the interface standards and the protocols of the ITU. 5.0 The Internet Component of IPTV
  • 6. There is an abundance of literature about the Internet. Figure 3 shows the Internet protocol suite, which is well suited for IPTV. Web browsing and interactive e-mails between the IPTV service provider and the end user take place on the TCP/IP through hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) and simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP) units. This is needed because of the peer connectivity between the corresponding layers of the receiving and the transmitting ends. The multimedia information for the IPTV flows over the IGMP layer for fastness. It is estimated that the IGMP– based transfers are about two to three times faster than the TCP/IP. However, there is no peer connectivity between the corresponding layers of the receiver and the transmitter. If the packets can be error-corrected, and lost packet information is extrapolated at the receiving end, the entertainment industry of IPTV will sustain IGMP–based activities. 6.0 The IP Video Operations Architecture Figure 4 shows one of the well-accepted IPTV and IP video operations architectures. The SBC Corporation (along with AT&T Corporation) is one of the leading companies in IPTV deployment, following the scheme outlined in Figure 4. The super hub office obtains the broadcast-video or video-on-demand information, processes it, and delivers it to the serving offices through high-speed networking. The serving offices, in turn, prepare the multimedia information for streaming and interface to the Internet, as described earlier. The homes and home offices receive the information through the Internet. Interactive messages usually follow between the end users and the serving offices [15]. 7.0 IPTV Case Studies and the Future of IPTV Several industrial, telephone, and Web corporations are opting to conduct practical case studies with IPTV, and they have been very successful. The European and Asian markets have a definite lead advantage compared to other countries in the world, due to the homogeneous nature of their telephone industries [16]. UTStarcom, Yahoo!, and the broadband operations of Japan successfully launched BBTV IPTV services in July 2005. They expect the number of subscribers to go beyond 4 million by the end of 2005. Their test sites are in North America, Europe, Latin America, China, and India. As of this writing, they claim to support 60 live TV channels, and the number is expected to double by the end of 2006 [17]. Similarly, OneWave Technologies Incorporated, with operation bases in Shanghai, China, and Santa Clara, California, has successfully launched IPTV activities [18]. The future of IPTV looks very bright, especially with the innovations and developments in access networks, video compressions, and the secure VLSI (very-large-scale integration) implementations of the security and processing algorithms [19]. E-commerce, tele-education, tele-medicine, and similar disciplines are the direct beneficiaries of the IPTV revolution, and they are expected to boost the IPTV market. Personal video recorder (PVR), where customers can rent recording space from IPTV providers for video on demand (similar to Web space and e-mail server space) is an added component of the IPTV boom.
  • 7. MIME BGP FTP HTTP SMTP TELNET SNMP TCP UDP ICMP IGMP OSPF RSVP IP BGP: Border Gateway Protocol FTP: File Transfer Protocol HTTP: Hypertext Transfer Protocol ICMP: Internet Control Management IGMP: Internet Group Management Protocol IP: Internet Protocol MIME: Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extension OSPF: Open Shortest Path First RSVP: Resource Reservation Protocol SMTP: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol SNMP: Simple Network Management Protocol TCP: Transmission Control Protocol UDP: User Datagram Protocol FIGURE 3: The Internet Protocol Suites (Courtesy: William Stallings/Prentice Hall) Homes receiving IPTV with Multimedia IP Video Hub and Serving Offices IP Video Super Hub Office (Video, Voice, and Data) FIGURE 4: IP Video Operational Architecture (Courtesy: SBC Corporation) 8.0 Conclusions Industry experts predict the same explosive growth for IPTV as that which occurred with the Internet during the ’80s and the Web during the mid-’90s. IPTV is integrating the multimedia activity needed for the home, including the home office, home entertainment, home tele-
  • 8. education, and a customized user base. The end users are getting more and more excited about the fact that they have full control over interactivity and video on demand, as compared to broadcast TV, where interactivity is totally missing. Also, currently, some small businesses and home users pay different tariffs for their telephone, cable TV, Internet connection, and cell phone. Also, there is often no balance of utilization among all these services. On the other hand, it is expected that IPTV will integrate most of these services and provide consolidated billing and services mechanisms, with efficient utilization of customer funds and time. The FTTH deployment revolution is an added advantage to the end user of IPTV, because of the high bandwidth, security, robustness, and cost-effectiveness. The IPTV revolution has really started, and it is expected to continue. There are still some staggering problems. The lack of understanding of IPTV standards across the globe, the slow awareness of the general public about the capabilities of IPTV, and the often- confusing advertisements about IPTV are some of the factors that need to be addressed and solved for a truly successful implementation of IPTV. Information security and protection against intruders from the Internet into the home-electronics environment is another issue that should be addressed and solved. 9.0 References [1] IPTV: Broadband Meets Broadcast: The Network Television Revolution IPTV Report www.iptv-report.com August 2005 [2] Intellon Corporation Technical Report “IPTV Distribution in Home Networks” Revision 1 www.intellon.com August 2005 [3] IPTV News “Comprehensive Application and Development Suite Advances IPTV Service” www.iptvnews.net April 2005 [4] Envivio, Inc. Technical Report “Complete IPTV System for Live TV, VoD, and VoIP...” www.envivio.com September 2005 [5] Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS): Launches IPTV Standards Forum www.atis.org June 2005 [6] Microsoft Corporation “Delivering IPTV with the Windows Media Platform” www.microsoft.com November 2003 [7] William Stallings “Data and Computer Communications” Chap. 18, Internet Protocols 7th Edition, Prentice Hall www.prenhall.com June 2004 [8] Cisco Corporation “Cisco: Service Providers Worldwide Driving Video/IPTV with CISCO IP NGN” www.cisco.com September 9, 2005 [9] Samsung Digital World “ Samsung Introduces Innovative Range of Set Top Box...” www.samsung.com December 2003 [10] IPTV Set-Top-Box Products from Advanced Digital Broadcast Corporation www.adbglobal.com 2004
  • 9. [11] The ZTE Corporation STB Modules www.zte.com 2004 [12] IPTV UTStarcom Webinar Series Report “All Major Carriers Worldwide Are in Trial Deployment of IPTV” www.utstar.com September 15, 2005 [13] SBC Corporation report “SBC Selects Scientific-Atlanta to Provide Video Infrastructure for IPTV…” www.scientificatlanta.com June 2005 [14] International Engineering Consortium (IEC) “Tutorial on OSS” www.iec.org 2004 [15] SBC Corporation Technical Report “Video Network Architecture: IP Video Operations Center…” www.sbc.com August/September 2005 [16] Telephony on Line: Intelligence for the Broadband Economy “What Comes After IPTV…” www.telephonyonline.com June 2005 [17] China Net Investor Report “Yahoo! BB Broadband (Japan) Focuses on UTStarcom’s mVision IPTV” www.china-netinvestor.blogspot.com July 2005 [18] OneWave Corporation Technical Report “OneWave IPTV Solution” Revision 1 www.onewaveinc.com September 2005 [19] Wunnava and Rassi “Objective Evaluation Schemes for Data Security for Internet and Web- Based Transactions” Annual Review of Communications, IEC Publications, 2003

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