Internet Protocol Television or IPTV is a technology that allows television services to be delivered over a proprietary broadband packet data network using the internet protocol suite.
Internet TV on the other hand is a television broadcast service distributed over the internet.
IPTV is sometimes confused with the delivery of Internet TV.
Although both rely on the same core technologies, their approaches in delivering IP based video differ in the following ways:
IPTV is based on networks frequently owned and controlled by telecom operators, and as such reach only the subscriber base which has access to the operator network.
Internet television is available anywhere where broadband internet access is available.
As the name suggests Internet TV leverages the public Internet to deliver video content to end users.
IPTV uses secure dedicated private networks to deliver video content to consumers. These private networks are managed, dimensioned and operated by service provider.
Quality of Service
Services running over the internet, such as Internet TV, are best effort services implying that there is no quality guarantee as to the final deliverable, the TV service.
This is because packets running over the internet may somehow be lost or corrupted making disassembly and interpretation impossible.
An IPTV service on the other hand is delivered over a networking infrastructure, which is typically owned by the service provider.
Owning the networking infrastructure allows telecom operators to engineer their systems to support the end-to-end delivery of high quality video.
A digital set-top box is generally used to access and decode the video content delivered via an IPTV system whereas a PC is nearly always used to access Internet TV services.
Since the internet is more open than a propriety network, the dedicated home computer may also require digital rights management certification in order to ensure compliance with copyright laws.
In the IPTV service case copyright laws are handled during the contract negotiations between the operator and the media company providing the material (films, tv shows etc…).
A significant percentage of video content delivered over the public Internet is available to consumers free of charge.
IPTV services on other hand are provided for a fee which could be a monthly subscription and which could include other bundled offerings.
In the past, a good share of Internet TV video content was user generated. Today user generated content falls under the term of Web TV while Internet TV is similar to a classical broadcast service but through the internet.
IPTV on the other hand has always distributed traditional television shows and movies supplied principally by the established media companies.
For further information, the reader is referred to Torbjörn Cagenius, Andreas Fasbender, Johan Hjelm, Uwe Horn, Ignacio Más Ivars and Niclas Selberg Evolving the TV Exprience (Ericsson Review No.3, 2006) and Peter Arberg, Torbjorn Cagenius,Olle Tidblad, Mats Ullerstig and Phil Winterbottom Network Infrastructure for IPTV (Ericsson Review No.3, 2007).
Both sources were used as references for this article and both sources provide a sound overview as to the underlying technology and future evolution of IMS based IP Television.