Growing consumer familiarity with and access to high-quality digital TV and video drives expectations for these technologies in public, work and school environments. This offers enormous opportunities for IT resellers.
Many business, educational and government customers are feeling the pressure to install or upgrade to digital TV and video for internal use. Building IPTV enables IT resellers to capitalise on these opportunities and create new revenue streams. They can leverage their existing expertise in network design to enable customers to deliver digital TV and video over their existing networks.
The two kinds of IPTV
The fundamental enabling technology for organisational TV and video is Internet Protocol Television (IPTV). Most familiar is internet IPTV, which is used for a variety of consumer applications, ranging from YouTube and BBC iPlayer to telco-supplied transmission of broadcast programming from providers such as BT Vision or Tiscali TV. Internet conditions make it impossible to provide top quality without expensive quality of service (QoS) solutions.
By contrast, local or building IPTV delivers high-quality digital radio, TV and video content across building, campus, or metropolitan area IP networks. These are not subject to the delay and bandwidth limitations of the internet. In fact, internal IP networks almost always have unused bandwidth that building IPTV can use with tremendous efficiency via multicasting.
Building IPTV makes TV and video just another network service, like e-mail, internet access, business applications and phone service. Terrestrial and satellite TV, video cameras, DVD/Blu-ray and digital signage players are just some of the possible content sources which can be streamed to TVs, audiovisual displays (such as projectors) and personal computers.
How building IPTV is used
Organisations of every type use building IPTV. Corporations use it to keep decision-makers abreast of opportunities and challenges with live desktop TV feeds. In education, access to worldwide satellite TV serves language departments and foreign students. In any industry, video on-demand (VoD) servers can make sales, training, and educational content more widely available, without the hassle of managing DVDs or tapes. Digital signage players can deliver rich, multi-layered content for maximum informational impact in public spaces.
With building IPTV, PCs become a valuable TV and video source. For instance, PowerPoint slideshows or any other application's output can be streamed as a channel. Organisational YouTube channels can be distributed as standalone channels without allowing user access to general YouTube content, which improves security and eliminates multiple video streams across the internet gateway to conserve bandwidth.
Opportunities and challenges
For resellers, it is easy to get a foot in the door with building IPTV, especially since it is backward-compatible with analogue equipment. You can offer a digital solution using the customer's existing IP network and much of their analogue equipment. They can upgrade as budget permits, while you establish yourself as an expert business partner and enjoy a continuing revenue stream well beyond the initial sale.
Resellers should look for building IPTV systems designed for easy integration with industry-specific solutions. The ability to add TV and video to such applications as hotel property management or healthcare patient management systems offers resellers an even greater opportunity for adding value and strengthening the customer relationship.
Finally, expertise is critical. Building IPTV is a demanding discipline requiring both IT and AV experience and involving everything from network design to room control systems. A deep knowledge of network design and technologies such as multicasting and virtual local area networks is required. For resellers who do not have all the necessary talent in-house, partnering with another reseller with complementary capabilities can greatly expand the business opportunities for both. In addition, the backing of vendors who understand both the IT and AV side of building IPTV can be an important factor in success.
This was first published in February 2010