INTERNET PROTOCOL TELEVISION: AN EMERGING MEDIA TREND

By BABATUNDE, VICTOR OLUSEGUN

INTRODUCTION
The Internet is a global network of computer networks. In more technical terms, this means that a group of two or more networks is electronically connected and able to communicate with one another. In order for this to work, however, the computers have to speak a common language. The common language, called a protocol by computer programmers, that was developed for the Internet is called the TCP/IP protocol. TCP/IP stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. It is actually a set of protocols that govern how data travel from one machine to another over networks. IP is sort of like the address on an envelope. It tells the computer where to send a particular message. TCP breaks up the information into packets that can be transmitted efficiently and resembles them at their destination (Dominick, 1999).
The year, 2006, marks a time in which the IP television (IPTV) market is moving into the critical second phase of large-scale commercial deployments across many regions. This may vary between carriers and geographies, but as a whole, service assurance and quality of experience (QOE) largely define this evolution. Each phase is tightly coupled with ongoing underlying technology evolution, content acquisition, and scaling the overall number of IP video subscribers (Heavy Reading, 2006).
This study focuses on the potentials of the Internet Protocol (IP) Television in the contemporary media era.

OBJECTIVE OF STUDY
This paper has the basic objective of examining the potentials of IP Television thereby reflecting its impact on the media and/or its users.

THEORETICAL EXPLANATION
This research work is best explained based on the assumptions of the Mediamorphosis Theory propounded by Roger Fidler in 1997.
Fidler (1997) cited in Anaeto, Onabajo and Osifeso (2008:191), defines mediamorphosis as the transformation of communication media, usually brought about by the complex interplay of perceived needs, competitive and political pressures , and social and technological innovations. The essence of mediamorphosis, as Anaeto et al notes, is the idea that the media are complex adaptive systems. In other words, the media as other systems, respond to external pressures with a spontaneous process of self-reorganization. Fidler argues that new media do not arise spontaneously and independently; rather, they emerged gradually from the metamorphosis of older media. Like McLuhan, Fidler also suggests that emerging forms of communication media propagate dominant traits from earlier forms.
To Smudits (2002) cited in Baltzis (2004:8), mediamorphosis signifies the major phases in the development of artistic creation distinguished by major changes of the media used to record, reproduce and disseminate symbolic forms.
Despite reservations this term may invoke, it may be applied to artistic communication in general, especially if we take under consideration that from the typography to photography and from the electro-magnetic to digital recording every major change of this kind is related to major changes of the art – as a social practice and a form of communication (Baltzis, 2004). Hence, Internet Protocol (IP) Television is an adaptation of older media technologies as contained in the basic tenets of this theory.

WHAT IS IPTV?
IPTV, or Internet Protocol television, is a relatively new and still evolving technology that AT&T is using to deliver TV service. AT&T is the only national service provider to offer a 100-percent IP-based TV service, AT&T U-verse TV. IP technology means that the TV, PC, home phone and wireless devices can be integrated to all work together, giving one unmatched features, more control and more personalization.

INTERNET PROTOCOL
The rapid growth of the Internet over the last ten years has transformed society and changed the way people think about electronic devices. Never before have ordinary citizens been able to instantaneously communicate with anyone in the world almost for free. Never before has it been so easy to publish. Publishing on the Internet is as simple as setting up a web server, thus making the author’s work available to anyone with Internet access (Schmidt, 2006).
Think of Internet Protocol as a “language” that devices use to communicate over a computer network. IP is not the same thing as the Internet. Rather, it’s the same language used by the Internet. IP technology allows information to be sent and received over any broadband or network connection. When all of the devices and services — now including TV — speak the same language, they are able to easily work together in new ways. Programme a DVR from a PC or wireless phone… Display personalized content and applications from the Internet on the TV…Even view a home phone’s incoming call log on the TV screen (AT&T, 2009).
According to Macaulay, Felts and Fisher (2005:4), the internet protocol (IP) is a packet-based-network transport protocol upon which the internet is built. IP packets are encapsulated in lower, hardware-level protocols for delivery over various networks (Ethernet, etc), and they encapsulate higher transport- and application-level protocols for streaming and other applications.
Also, Cooper and Lovelace (2006:7) assert that the IP in IPTV simply refers to Internet Protocol, a networking technology that underpins the Internet and is increasingly used as a lingua franca for communications across data networks in general.

FEATURES OF INTERNET PROTOCOL TELEVISION
The biggest difference with today’s distribution of television is that users choose which information they want to have everything is not broadcasted as with terrestrial, cable and satellite. Another big difference is that an individual will be able to have a high capacity two way communication and also have the ability to interact with the service provider. For example, a request for a movie can be made from the TV-guide and the programme will be subsequently delivered. Other things that could be provided with IPTV is interactive applications (e.g. video blog) or transactional applications (e.g. TV shopping). Because of the point-to-point connection IPTV offers, every user will be able to view their own individual broadcasts. A user will be able to have VoD (Video- on -Demand) on personal video store where he can decide when he wants to see the movie. The user will also be able to use features like pause, fast forward and rewind when watching a movie on TV. It will be possible to have personalized advertising. It will be easy to decide by oneself, which kind of advertising to see (Martisson, 2006).

INTERNET PROTOCOL TELEVISION (IPTV) AND ITS POTENTIALS
To Cooper and Lovelace (2006:7), IPTV – Internet Protocol Television – refers to the delivery of digital television and other audio and video services over broadband data networks using the same basic protocol that support the Internet.
The association with the Internet may suggest that this is simply an extension of the web video experience seen on personal computers and to an extent this is technically correct. It is also an assumption that service and technology providers are keen to dismiss.
IPTV can deliver live and on- demand digital television and video services via set-top boxes and other devices to television sets or other displays, in standard and even high-definition formats, at a quality that is indistinguishable from broadcast television or comparable to a DVD, as opined by Cooper and Lovelace (2006).
IPTV is a different, improved technology than “traditional” cable or satellite TV, and it allows for more flexibility within the network. This is because IPTV enables two-way interactivity, versus a traditional, one-way cable or satellite broadcast network. The two-way IPTV network means viewers have more options to interact personalize and control their viewing experience. IP technology also allows for more flexibility within a home network. With IP, all of the U-verse receivers in a home — no matter which rooms they are in — are connected on the same high-speed home network. This allows people to watch shows recorded from their DVR on any TV in the house. One can also connect gaming consoles, laptops and other devices to a home network using the Ethernet port on the back of the set-top box (AT&T, 2009).
Also, ease of use is one of the IPTV requirements in the digital service provider environment, in the view of MOCA (2008:5). Consumers are accustomed to easy access. When the predominant mode of reception was over-the-air broadcast, “rabbit ears” or a rooftop antenna was all that was needed in metropolitan areas with strong signals. As cable and satellite TV grew, coaxial cable connectors on TV sets provided another simple interface to outlets in rooms with TV sets, as the agency submits.
Still on the potentials or impact of IPTV, Schmidt (2006:3) is of the opinion that IPTV is a robust platform aimed towards the future. It, according to him, eliminates bottlenecks inherent in the present Cable TV network creating and provides low cost path to future enhancement. New service offering can be implemented by changes to the head end, similar to the way the Internet works today. This largely decouples the access network and customer equipment from service offerings allowing new services to be delivered more rapidly and at lower cost than traditional means.
Unlike the traditional TV that transmits through cable, satellite or terrestrial broadcast, IPTV subscribers with high quality interactive TV programmes and other entertainment content over IP networks. In addition to Live TV, IPTV enables interactive video entertainment like VoD (Video-on-Demand), nPVR (Network-Based Personal Video Recorder) and time-shift TV (recording a TV programme for later viewing). At the same time, it is also possible to provide value-added services such as Web, e-mail, game, T-commerce and so on (Hoffman, 2005).
Above all, the emergence of IPTV could have a much greater impact on the traditional television and video market. It will also create a global distribution pattern for programming providers and a more efficient method for delivering niche programme to a worldwide audience, according to Cooper and Lovelace (2006).

CONCLUSION
In the first digital revolution, remarkable development in communications coincided, but failed to converge. As we enter the second digital revolution, the long-heralded marriage of broadcast television with the Internet has begun. Therefore, the emergence of Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) has facilitated the convergence of television with the internet and the next generation of digital video services. This is aided by the rise of ever-faster broadband connections and more efficient compression technologies and driven by powerful competitive forces that are now reshaping the communications landscapes. Hence the potentials of IPTV and its impact on the media its users are unquantifiable.

REFERENCES

Anaeto, S. G.; Onabajo, O. S. and Osifeso, J. B. (2008). Models and Theories of Communications. Maryland: African Renaissance Books Incorporated.

AT&T Intellectual Property (2009). IPTV Background. Retrieved October 25, 2011 from http://www.att.com/common/merger/files/pdf/IPTV_background.pdf

Baltzis, A. G. (2004). The Mediamorphosis of the Artistic Communication (Reproduction, Broadcast Internet). Lecture Delivered at the International Seminar of the European research Network. London. Retrieved September 28, 2011 from http://users.auth.gr/baltzis/papers/seminar_04_mediamorphosis.pdf

Cooper, W. and Lovelace, G. (2006). IPTV Guide: Delivering Audio and Video over Broadband. Informitv/Lovelace Consulting Limited. Retrieved October 31, 2011 from http://iptv- report.com/guide/request/download/IPTV-Guide.pdf

Dominick, J. R. (1999). The Dynamics of Mass Communication. Boston: McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

Heavy Reading (2006). White Paper – Assuring Quality of Experience for IPTV. Retrieved November 2, 2011 from http://download.lightreading.com/wplib/heavyreading/IPTV- QOE.pdf

Hoffman, E. (2005). Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) Basics. Santa Ana: Raptor Networks Technology Inc. Retrieved October 25, 2011 from http://www.raptor- networks.com/pdfs/CD-WP1200.pdf

Macaulay, A.; Felts, B. and Fisher, Y. (2005). WHITEPAPER-IP Streaming of MPEG-4: Native RTP Vs MPEG-2 Transport Stream. Envivo Inc. Retrieved October 25, 2011 from http://www.envivo.com/files/white-papers/RTPvsTS-v4.pdf

Martisson, E. (2006). IPTV the Future of Television? Gothenburg: Chalmers University of Technology. Retrieved November 1, 2011 from http://www.cse.chalmers.se/mtsigas/courses/DCDseminar/files/IPTVrapport.pdf

Multimedia over Coax Alliance (2008). IPTV White Paper. Retrieved October 25, 2011 from http://www.mocolliance.org/industry/white_papers/IPTV_White_Paper(1).pdf

Schmidt, T. (2006). Internet Protocol (IP) Vs Radio Frequency (RF) Television Distribution. Retrieved November 2, 2011 from http://www.tschmidt.com/writings/IPvsRF.pdf

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