Editor's Corner

Apple and Amazon have brought the issue to a head: It's time to decide whether Internet television is IPTV. There's a heated discussion going on over at Wikipedia--looks like the Wikipedians want to merge the articles for "Internet Television" and "IPTV," however most of the comments urge the site not to do so. As one commentator said:

  • "IPTV without the Internet is a paradigm supported by (some) majors and telco operators in order to define a separate network from the Internet where video content provision and fruition are strictly controlled limiting the possibility of Internet interoperability; and
  • Internet Television is a paradigm of transporting video content over the Internet; and that
  • Internet Television and IPTV rely on base technology which (may eventually) include streaming, QoS management, set-top boxes, accounting and billing systems, interactivity support, video servers, network caches, etc."

I could disagree with some of the loaded language there, but it's the best explanation on the discussion board. Many take a longterm view and see the two converging--making the semantics of little consequence. Today, however, it's incredibly important to make the distinction because different players are involved. The players are the same ones in the Net Neutrality debate: the bus drivers and the bus owners.

There is a growing crowd in the IP video sector that sees the bus drivers, namely YouTube or Google Video (and now Apple and Amazon) trumping the IPTV services that telcos (the bus owners) are in the process of rolling out. The most compelling argument for that trend is the notion that deploying IPTV to subscribers is like tying your own noose--if you hand your subscribers 10 Mbts downstream for a data service, you better believe they'll find a way to make the video service you're hawking at $60 a month unnecessary. Telcos need to deploy IPTV services that offer applications above and beyond what cable is capable of, while leveraging the network in a way that Internet TV can't.

While this may be hype talking or too-forward-looking speculation to some, it should be duly noted that the telcos aren't just competing with the cable MSOs or the satellite TV services anymore. There's a very real threat posed by these Internet TV services. And if you're still unconvinced that Internet TV is different from IPTV, then I'll leave you with the words of another Wikipedian, which surely give echo to every message board and discussion forum on the Internet: "They are two separate types of viewing media, I work in this business. Thanks."- Brian