We are on the brink of a new era of television:  unlimited channels and viewing on demand; what you want, when you want it, from anywhere in the world, at the touch of a button.  This new television will not be broadcast through the air or received through an antenna on your roof – it wil be part of what is provided by you broadband connection.  IPTV  internet protocol TV  is here now. Anyone can access it via their home computer, laptop or tablet, providing they have a sufficiently fast connection to the internet.

If you have a sufficiently fast connection, for example,  you can watch a program on ABC (originally broadcast on The 27th of November 2012) of the opposion plan for broadband right now by clicking here. If you have a new smart TV (see below) you don’t even need a computer. You can watch it now on your TV.

You can also listen to a panel discussion presented by Stephen Brook of the Australian on November 21 2011 on the future of TV here.  Some quotes from this are given below:

“Television networks in the United States are making every effort to accompany their viewers. The wise suits there have been burnt before, watching their audiences erode as they resisted the rise of pay TV. This time around, they are eager to profit from the new business models that the online TV revolution enables. And their enthusiasm is matched by new third party aggregators such as Hulu, Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Yahoo and even the mighty Google; all too eager to snare their slice of the digital future. Consumers win out of such competitive tension.”

“When true IPTV becomes mainstream, only events will be live; all other content will be viewed on demand. Consumers will rarely organise their life around a content schedule, and content and advertising will offer social interaction and transactions. The timing of the shift will depend on several catalysts. The National Broadband Network in Australia is one, but the main one will be the launch of (yet to be released) platforms that are compelling and simple enough to persuade consumers and content providers to switch their focus to IPTV.”


 Reason for lack of current HD TV

The shortage of available spectrum is the reason why we currently have so few real HD content on free-to air TV.  Subscribers to Foxtel with access to real HD programs can clearly see the difference in picture quality between programs broadcast in HD on Foxtel and similar, non-HD programs on free-to air.

At the end of 2013  analogue TV broadcasts will be switched off. This will improve the situation to some extent. IPTV will dramatically change this.


Multicast TV on NBN

Australia’s third-largest internet service provider (ISP) iiNet has announced that it will trial Fetch TV services over the National Broadband Network (NBN) using its multicasting product in a new housing estate located in Rhodes, west of Sydney.

The multicast product is a cost-saving method of distributing single-source content, such as television broadcasts, across to multiple users on the NBN. It will ideally be used for IPTV products, such as Fetch TV and Foxtel.

iiNet completed the certification process with NBN Co in November, and will now commence a trial at a greenfields site in Rhodes, New South Wales.


Smart TV

Over 220 million Smart TV sets will be sold worldwide in 2017, up from the 54 million that will be sold in 2012. In Australia brands such as Samsung, LG, and Panasonic are witnessing strong demand for Smart TVs despite a lack of first run content.
NBN Network Operations centre

A Smart TV connected to the Internet

Among the most popular applications on a Smart TV are YouTube and Google Search, claims Samsung, who currently has their $9,499 top end smart TV on back order in Australia.

According to Informa Telecoms & Media’s latest Smart TV device forecasts, 31% of households worldwide will own at least one Smart TV with penetration in Australia tipped to hit 60% within five years as consumers get access to the fibre NBN broadband network.


 4K Tv

Several 4K resolutions exist in digital television and digital cinematography. The name 4K is derived from the horizontal resolution, which is approximately 4,000 pixels. There are currently no video hosting services that allow 4K videos to be streamed. However, YouTube once allowed a maximum resolution of 4096 × 3072 (12.6 megapixels) but in 2012, it lowered the maximum resolution to 2048 × 1536 (3.1 megapixels).

The electronics industry has dubbed the new flat-panel displays “Ultra HD,” while Sony specifically refers  to it as “4K” because it features nearly 4,000 pixels, compared with the 1,080  pixels on “1080p” sets.

“People ask the question, ‘Do I need to get a bigger house to fit an 84-inch  TV?’” said Chris Cookson, president of Sony Pictures Technologies. “The  answer is that 25 inches was right for standard definition; 50 inches was right  for high-def; and 84 inches is right now that we’re going ultra-high-def.”

Ultra HD is widely regarded as the next evolution in TV technology, but a  there is lack of content that takes advantage of the vast resolution, though  Ultra HD sets are equipped to upscale lower-resolution video. Sony  Corp. hopes to overcome that pitfall with its new player.


NBN clears the way for 4K video

Stephen Langdon, manager of multicast, IPTV and video products at NBN Co, and  Landry Fevre, NBN Co’s general manager, media, say a  fibre-to-the-home network like the NBN are essential for delivering 4KTV.

Asked whether Foxtel would consider delivering a 4KTV channel using an internet platform like the NBN, Foxtel’s executive director of product Jim Rudder did not rule it out, saying Foxtel would deliver the new technology “in the most effective and efficient way possible whether it be over IP, satellite or cable”.

He said NBN Co would be running a trial early this year testing multicast  content delivery over NBN in a new development estate in Sydney in partnership  with iiNet, which will be capable of streaming 4K video.

NBN Co wants traditional broadcasters to get on board distributing content  over the internet. “Spectrum is a very finite resource in Australia so  transmitting that level of bandwidth over the free-to-air transmitters is going  to be a challenge,” said Langdon.


Bandwidth Required

Below is a post from an online forum on the benefits and bandwith use of a future IPTV scenario.  All the components (except the bandwidth) needed to make this a reality today already exist.

But we are talking about a telecommunications transformation that will set us up for the next 50+ years, not a half measure that treads water for 20.

It’s not unreasonable to think that 4K/8K 3D TV’s will be fairly common in the next 10-15 years. I can easily imagine a service in only 5 years where I watch AFL on two 4K TV’s at once. The first TV is on the main network channel with my personal choice of commentators from a list of at least 3 (neutral commentary, pro home team commentary, pro away team commentary). The second TV is on specific match-ups (full forward, a star midfielder or whatever).   In addition, I’m watching stats on a tablet and maybe doing social networking stuff during breaks. So that’s got to be absolutely well and truly over 12mbs and we haven’t even got anything really innovative and interactive, or considered other household users yet.

The same principle would apply to Formula 1, NRL or whatever.

The AFL/Foxtel knows that people buy the whole Foxtel package primarily just for AFL. If the AFL could offer a better experience with every game available for say $200-$300 per year and cut out the middleman, it really would go bananas (not atomic bananas).