IPTV – A Practical Guide to Success
A Stratecast Whitepaper
Sponsored by Tellabs
Author: Becky Watson, Program Manager
Communications Infrastructure and Convergence
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IPTV – A Practical Guide to Success
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Executive Summary 4
IPTV Service Roll-outs: Key Challenges 6
Strategy and Planning 7
Network Infrastructure 8
IPTV Support 9
IPTV Requirements and Choices 10
A Critical Key to Success – A Strong Business Partner 10
Meeting the Challenge: Why Tellabs? 13
LIST OF FIGURES
IPTV Strategy Considerations 7
Fulfillment Vendor Requirements 11
Incumbent service providers are striving to provide their customers with innovative voice,
video and data services to create loyalty, increase spending and provide their customers
with an exceptional quality of experience. Service providers have many choices when it
comes to network architecture and solutions, vendors and vendor solutions, and
technology choices. Just a few of these choices are:
• Network and Architecture - Consideration of access, metro and core network
strategies and technologies within each.
o Access technologies and infrastructures such as digital subscriber loop (DSL),
passive optical network (PON) and Ethernet.
o Core transport capacity requirements and technologies includes Internet Protocol
(IP), Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), and virtual private LAN service (VPLS)
and, optical transport.
o Content choices include applications technologies such as Moving Picture Experts
Group two, three and four coding standards (MPEG-2, MPEG 3, MPEG-4) and,
content aggregation and security.
• Vendor Solutions – Consideration of end-to-end solutions, best-of-breed, single
solutions, and/or a combination. End-to-end solutions are defined as single vendor
solutions that are sold and primarily manufactured by a single vendor. Best of breed
solutions may be provided by a single vendor who has partnerships with other vendors
and brings an end-to-end solution to the market or conversely can be architected by
the service provider engaging with multiple vendors.
• Vendors - Network Equipment Manufacturers, IT vendors, and independent software
and hardware vendors. Additionally, professional services vendors such as service
integrators, consulting firms and engineering firms are part of the vendor ecosystem
that can be utilized.
• Technology Choices - Service providers planning IPTV architecture have multiple
choices for access, metro and core network segments such as:
o Key technology choices for access include not only high level technologies such as
DSL, PON and Ethernet but architectural choices such as fiber-to-the-
home/premise or fiber-to-the curb or node and overall capacity requirements.
Choices for PON types such as Broadband PON (BPON), Ethernet PON (EPON)
and Giga PON (GPON) must also be considered.
o Transport capacity, multiple technologies, aggregation strategies, specific
infrastructure network elements and consideration of existing network architecture
must be taken into account. Service provider choices include optical technologies
such as dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) and related infrastructure
network elements, IP/MPLS, VPLS technologies and network elements including
routers, switches, video encoders and decoders, applications servers, subscriber
services servers, video servers and many more.
Combined with these extensive network, vendor, vendor solution and technology choices is
the uncertainty of how much bandwidth each subscriber will need in the future to satisfy
expanded content consumption, multiple devices and increased voice, video and data
applications on the single connection. This introduces increased risk into the IPTV
Service providers can increase success and reduce risks by concentrating first
on the foundation of any new ser vice; the underlying core network
infrastructure and a robust support environment.
Services will continue to evolve over time as more innovation, convergence and content are
introduced. Converged voice, video and data services, multiple content sources, interactive
content and the ability to move content between devices in addition to other innovative
services creates a more complex scenario and furthers the need for service providers to
enable a strong network foundation. To enable these innovative services, a service provider
needs to implement a scalable, reliable network infrastructure along with a complete
support environment from customer order to network resource fulfillment to installation
and maintenance to deliver quality services both now and in the future.
This whitepaper will discuss key elements that are required to successfully support IPTV
and triple play services as well as how an emphasis on these elements can optimize
deployment, increase revenues, and ensure delivery of future proof services while reducing
risks associated with new services, infrastructures and technologies.
Stratecast will give insight on why these key elements are necessary for success and discuss
how Tellabs’ solutions and services enable service providers to deliver triple play and IPTV
services while evolving their network infrastructure
As service providers across the globe press ahead with IPTV deployments, business and
operations strategies continue to evolve and extend beyond the controlled market roll-out
phase. The ability to scale, support and maintain the network infrastructure as well as
support new services from the back office to the home and all points in-between becomes
critical in order to succeed in an extremely competitive market.
Early launches of IPTV by legacy wireline service providers coincide with efforts by Multiple
System Operators (MSOs) to keep existing customers and win new ones. MSOs are offering
bundles of voice, data, video and mobile services that include innovative new features and
capabilities such as interactive video services, individual content, remote programming of
the television via mobile devices, and interactive user features for television and mobile
devices. In addition to competitive pressures, service providers face a number of other
challenges when deploying IPTV including high consumer expectations, increased network
infrastructure requirements, new technology choices, and ensuring quality of service in an
environment with constantly shifting bandwidth demands.
Deployment of IPTV that is competitive with, and potentially superior to, existing video
offerings requires an open, modular architecture that is optimized for digital television and
video display devices. Such architecture provides maximum flexibility for exploiting world
class solutions at all points in the supply and delivery chain. In order to accomplish these
goals and expedite expansion of IPTV services and other next-generation IP and IP
Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) applications, service providers must choose integration
partners and vendors that have both knowledge of, and experience with, multiple transport
network architectures, protocols and technologies (IP, IMS, Signaling System 7/SS7, etc.).
Equally important is the necessity for vendor partners to have the expertise to enable
seamless interoperability of an end-to-end IPTV solution.
A key challenge for IPTV infrastructure is ensuring adequate capacity and performance is
available as the network evolves. Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE)
must be engineered to provide 99.999% reliability as witnessed in legacy telecom networks
but with the added requirement of ensuring high quality video content and interactive
content delivery. Video content and delivery is adversely affected by network issues such as
packet loss, delay and jitter. To alleviate these issues IPTV infrastructure must be architected
to support high availability and provide a guarantee of sufficient bandwidth to support video
services. “Best effort” IP networks that are architected for data do not support IPTV
requirements for minimal to no packet loss, delay, and jitter that adversely affect the quality
of video transmission.
IPTV SERVICE ROLL-OUTS: KEY CHALLENGES
Roll out of IPTV services cross the entire service provider organization from initial
strategic planning, to network deployment, to customer activation and ongoing customer
service and maintenance. Three key areas that need to be taken into account for IPTV
implementations are (1) Strategy and Planning, (2) Network Infrastructure and, (3) IPTV
Support. All of these elements play a critical roll in mitigating risks and ensuring a
successful IPTV roll-out.
Strategy and Planning
Perhaps the most important and time consuming challenge that a service provider must
undertake is the development of an infrastructure strategy and associated implementation
planning for deployment of new network infrastructure and new services. In the legacy
voice environment, proprietary, single vendor solutions were typical and the service
provider did not have to make many decisions due to limited choices. In today’s IPTV
environment a multi-vendor, multi-technology and geographically varied approach is
unavoidable. The inherent complexity of both network infrastructure and OSS is further
complicated due to service provider mergers, acquisitions, and management strategies in
addition to industry and vendor technology advancements. The level of complexity in
existing service provider environments makes strategy and planning even more critical.
Stratecast has defined strategy and planning activities that occur in each of four basic
categories; (1) Equipment, (2) Network Architecture, (3) Services and Content and, (4) Back
Office. Figure 1 illustrates the complexity involved in rolling out successful IPTV services
within these four categories. It should be noted that this is just a sample of some of the
critical choices and decisions that need to be acknowledged. There are numerous other
business and technical issues that must be considered throughout the planning process.
Figure 1: IPTV Strategy Considerations
These critical choices are all inter-related as the decisions affect bandwidth requirements,
equipment requirements, OSS/BSS requirements as well as the services. Two examples of
that interdependency are:
1. More bandwidth is required if MPEG-2 technology is used versus newer technologies
(MPEG-4/AVC/H.264 and VC-1.H.265). However the newer technologies may not be as
mature as MPEG-2 and may affect requirements for roll out timeframes which may
increase the risk initially but not over the long term. The complexity is elevated by
multiple vendor choices and solutions combined with the need to bring these services
to market very quickly.
2. Unicast services create additional requirements from an OSS/BSS perspective. The
interactivity affects the OSS/BSS environment significantly as real-time content,
activation, content charging, balance checking and other back office functionality is
required to support IPTV rather than the post-processing approach currently in use.
The network infrastructure must be engineered to accommodate a payload comprised of
hundreds of analog, standard, and High-Definition TV (HDTV) channels and other media
content as well as providing a foundation for future undefined services. The IPTV
infrastructure is both voluminous and complex and is comprised of multi-vendor
equipment. Underlying the equipment interoperability requirements is the need for a highly
scalable and reliable core transport network infrastructure. Core network transport and
the underlying network elements that comprise the IPTV infrastructure is one of the most
costly portions of the end-to-end architecture. IPTV infrastructure requires significant
capital expenditure (CapEx) to deploy but even more costly is the associated re-engineering
and re-architecting of the network if bandwidth and video service delivery requirements
cannot be met. The transport portion of an IPTV infrastructure forms the foundation of a
successful IPTV architecture. Properly engineered transport infrastructure allows the
service provider to meet its current and future reliability, scalability and services delivery
The most important aspect of providing quality video transmission over IP infrastructure is
minimizing packet loss. While packet loss can be corrected and compensated for in an IP
data transmission, IP video requires minimal to no packet loss. In addition, there are other
critical requirements to enable a superior customer experience and the ability to
successfully transmit video over an IP network including:
1. High availability and guaranteed bandwidth.
2. Low transmission delay.
3. Low network jitter.
4. Low packet loss.
These network qualities are similar to those required to provide quality voice services,
however, IPTV services require those qualities to be delivered across many more network
elements, content access points and providers, encoding schemes, OSS/BSS, and other
operational components. Likewise, service providers want to be able to manage IPTV
services in much the same manner as other services so as not to create a separate IPTV
architecture and service silo. Creating these silos increases operational costs significantly.
The consolidation of OSS/BSS solutions and data is a critical part of a service provider
strategy for planning and implementation of IPTV infrastructure and services.
The IPTV service provisioning process is still very complex and must be optimized to
accommodate mass market transaction volumes while achieving cost-per-transaction
targets that are much lower than what is experienced today. Quality is also an issue. In
some deployments, order-to-installation failure rates have exceeded 50%. 1 All of these
factors significantly impact both the consumer and the service provider.
IPTV service provisioning requires a high level of automation and integration with existing
customer- and network-facing systems. Implementing “yet another silo” of Operation
Support System/Billing Support System (OSS/BSS) capabilities is expensive and leads to an
overwhelmingly high total cost of ownership for the service. Adopting a common OSS/BSS
1 More detailed findings and insight on IPTV strategies can be found in the Stratecast Perspectives and Insight for Executives
(SPIE), SPIE 2007-25, “Scaling IPTV Operations” , published in July 2007.
architecture and augmenting existing OSS/BSS capabilities to support IPTV in concert with
existing products and services makes the service provider more flexible and responsive to
customer needs. Vendor tools and integration expertise that enable a converged OSS/BSS
support structure as well as provide the ability to support legacy and next-generation
voice, video and data services are the mechanism(s) for being responsive to existing and
future revenue realization and customer support requirements.
IPTV REQUIREMENTS AND CHOICES
As illustrated in Figure 1 service providers have many choices and requirements from
business, technology and partner perspectives. To meet competitive pressures and move
beyond an initial IPTV roll out phase, services providers must focus on key requirements
from both a service and technology perspective.
In order to succeed in the IPTV realm, service providers must:
• Cost-effectively scale to thousands, and for larger service providers, millions of
individual users, as opposed to central households.
• Establish an environment that accommodates multi-vendor sources for content,
bandwidth, and applications.
• Accommodate rapid development and implementation of compelling new applications
versus ubiquitous, commodity-type services.
• Deploy reliable infrastructure and support solutions that ensure a high quality
Coupled with market and consumer expectations, the choices and decisions that must be
made will not be ubiquitous across a service provider’s entire network. Different
deployments may be required for overbuild, migration and integration of legacy and
greenfield networks. As a result interoperability and operations, administration and
maintenance (OA&M) all become exponentially more complex.
Service providers need to consider these factors when planning, building and operating the
overall network infrastructure to ensure that business cost and revenue requirements as
well as customer expectations are met and/or exceeded. Service providers can address
these complex issues by choosing partners that not only have product solutions but have
the expertise to work through these strategic issues to develop a cohesive network plan
that accommodates multiple network topologies, vendors, technologies and protocols.
These partners are more than just approved vendors; they become strategic partners in the
service provider’s long term success.
A CRITICAL KEY TO SUCCESS – A STRONG BUSINESS PARTNER
Stratecast conducted a survey in 2006 with North American service providers to gain
insight into their criteria for choosing key vendors and vendor solutions. 2 One of the key
2 More detailed findings and insight on service provider strategies can be found in the Stratecast study “Service Provider IMS
Strategies,” CSNA 7-01, published in its CSNA program in January 2007.
findings expressed by service providers was the need to work with one or two key business
partners that brought a full solution to the table. From a product perspective, a “full
solution” is defined as a pre-integrated, multi-vendor, best of breed solution versus an end-
to-end, single vendor solution. From a business partner perspective a “full solution”
includes working with key partners that bring an ecosystem of services, developers, and
solutions to enable a high quality of experience for their customers. Service providers
stated that they will rely on trusted partners and vendors for guidance, migration strategy
insight, and deployment and solutions that bring best practices and efficiency to their
Service providers have requirements in regards to supporting projects from a financial,
internal resources and existing network topology perspective. The financial perspective
involves decisions as to what extent outside vendors are involved in a project. Whether or
not an end-to-end vendor solution or a portion of the project is supplied by a trusted
partner, service providers must be able to work with a key partner that can enable flexible
solutions based upon individual financial needs and resource requirements. For example, a
service provider could engage a partner for strategy and planning while managing
Additionally, Stratecast recently published a study in its OSSCS program titled, “CSP
Fulfillment Requirements.” 3 In this study Stratecast interviewed twenty Tier, 1, 2 and 3
telephony, cable and broadband service providers to gain insight on their fulfillment
strategies. Part of this study explored service provider vendor expectations. Figure 2
illustrates the finding from this study and further quantifies service providers’ requirement
for a strong, knowledgeable business partner as a key requirement.
Figure 2: Fulfillment Vendor Requirements
“You need to know about
our business. You really
need to understand the
volume, scope, and range
and the difference between
a DS-1 and a T-1.”
-- Large wireline CSP
3 More detailed findings and insight on service provider fulfillment strategies can be found in the Stratecast study “CSP
Fulfillment Requirements,” OSSCS 08-07, published in its OSSCS program in August 2007.
To obtain a copy of these or other Stratecast reports, please dial 877-463-7678, or send a request to
It is clear from findings in both surveys that service providers will rely on key partners that
have a deep understanding of the service providers’ business, have strong domain expertise,
have reliable and scalable solutions and can provide a trusted partner relationship.
Additionally, service providers require their partners to provide standards-based products
and solutions and have the ability to integrate those solutions within the existing
architecture. Stratecast has repeatedly said that service providers will not retire existing
network or back office assets until they are at end-of-life; integration is a key element for
Service providers are moving beyond the traditional vendor/customer relationship when it
comes to rolling out new and complex services. One way for service providers to
successfully deploy IPTV infrastructure and services is to work with equipment
manufacturers that provide comprehensive planning and strategy support, strong product
portfolios, flexibility, a robust ecosystem of partners and value long term customer
relationships. These partnerships are the ones that can successfully enable service providers
to deliver IPTV architecture, services and their increase success in this new market.
Experienced network equipment vendors have distinct core competencies that can be
effectively leveraged. These competencies lend themselves to successful service provider
IPTV launches and distinguish network equipment vendors from traditional professional
services vendors and systems integrators:
• Requirements Gathering – Understanding the desired customer experience, the
operational capabilities, and having expertise and experience in delivering core
transport and access network solutions. Delivering a consistent quality of experience
is the hallmark of network equipment providers in support of IPTV roll-outs.
• Integration Services – IPTV architecture is complex and requires extensive integration
to ensure interoperability. Integration of disparate network elements and having the
ability to architect an end-to-end solution is an inherent and necessary competency
for network equipment vendors.
• Test and Measurement – Establishing accurate trial and test frameworks to enable
objective and thorough evaluation of operational processes, interoperability, feature
readiness and assessing readiness for commercial service.
• Comprehensive Program Management – Supporting all of the critical network elements
including those previously selected by a service provider, third-party and preferred
MEETING THE CHALLENGE: WHY TELLABS?
Tellabs has developed a robust Broadband Access Professional Services Practice that
addresses key IPTV solution requirements such as strong network infrastructure, strong
partnerships and a comprehensive program devoted to service provider success. The
Tellabs Broadband Access practice offers expert services targeted at supporting service
provider IPTV roll-outs.
• Business Consulting • Network Integration
• Network Architecture • Cabinet Upgrades
• Network Design • Management Systems Services
• Third Party Assessment • Operations Support Services
• Element Integration Testing • Third Party Assessment
• Deployment Services • Resident Engineering
• Program Management
Tellabs has proven its expertise with access, core and transport network elements and
infrastructure solutions in the telephony domain. This expertise addresses the service
provider requirement for a trusted partner with domain expertise.
Along with Tellabs’ network infrastructure domain expertise, Tellabs brings best-of-breed,
flexible solutions and services strategy that enables service providers to architect
customized and standards-based IPTV solutions to address individual financial models,
technologies and services.
From initial market research to ongoing operational support, Tellabs Broadband Access
Professional Services Practice draws on years of experience architecting and delivering
service provider networks. Tellabs brings this experience along with its planning,
engineering, deployment, and operations expertise to its Broadband Access Professional
Program Manager – Communications Infrastructure and Convergence
Stratecast (a Division of Frost & Sullivan)
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