I want my IPTV

I want my IPTV

Summary: Are vested interests, competing commercial models and a struggle to find the right business model holding back the progress of IPTV in Australia?

TOPICS: Government AU

What's holding back the progress of IPTV in Australia? Is it the speed of our broadband? Is it access to content? Is existing content relevant for the internet? Is the issue really how you get the content to your TV screen?

Or is it simply a factor of vested interests, competing commercial models and a struggle to find the right business model?

Today on Twisted Wire we try to get to the bottom of the issue. We hear about the experience in those Asian countries where watching TV over the internet is very prevalent. The ABC tells us about adoption of its iView service and we look at TiVo, which is set to offer TV delivered over the internet to supplement its digital free-to-air time-shifting offering.

In this week's show Phil Dobbie talks to:

  • Industry analyst Mike Walsh
  • Ian Carroll, director of Innovation at the ABC
  • Robbee Minicola, CEO of Hybrid Television Services (TiVo)

Be sure to give your views in the comments section below.

Phil Dobbie is a broadcaster and businessman with more than 15 years commercial experience across the telecommunications, internet, tourism, advertising and radio industries. Dobbie also provides a daily podcast for our sister site BNET.com. Join him for BTalk Australia, where he provides a lively and insightful view on business issues, adding his blend of irony and humour to the discussions.

Topic: Government AU


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • That's Not IPTV

    I have to say that the first thing to realise is that none of the service talked about here are IPTV. They are all simply video content delivered over an IP network and played on demand.

    True IPTV requires deep integration, right down to the routers inside an ISP to ensure service quality, and equally deep billing system integration along with a set top box, all tied together. This is the ONLY way you can deliver full res high quality video to a large format screen consistently, you must control the entire path.

    Fundamentally IPTV is like Foxtel but inside your ISP, they sell you the service with the set top box and you get a set of channels and content. The real IPTV is what Telstra is allegedly preparing to launch within a month or two here in Australia.

    But the terminology really only masks a much bigger debate, one that rages inside all ISP's around the world. They are increasingly becoming a service commodity and at a recent FED evening Telstra Media's Justin Milne made it horribly clear they don't think that its fair that we can all make money selling our video content and they (the ISP's) have to foot the costs for the network.

    More and more ISP's are moving into content sales to try and bolster revenue. That's the real value to them of a pure IPTV strategy.

    Incidentally Mike Walshes complete interview with Justin is here http://snurl.com/colu9
  • TPG have one

    It probably won't meet the definition of your comment, but TPG have an IPTV service. It has very limited content, but it is currently free as part of certain braodband plans. No set-top box is required, but specific setting of the modem and installation of software is required. The definition would not be good for a TV, but fine for watching on PCs or laptops. The biggest limiting factor is TPG has fairly poor reliability.
  • Reliability

    Yes TPG is a great example of the half way service, however your comment on reliability goes right to the very heart of the issue. IPTV is performance guaranteed, well as guaranteed as your connection can be. I just blogged about this issue on my own site. Imagine turning on the TV and seeing static because there arent enough airwaves! Actually that does happen now, when it rains, digital TV falls apart, they call it rainfade.

    But the performance issue is then linked to quality of content, because to get decent content you need to charge for the service and I doubt we would pay unless it was as reliable as TV. Then again we pay for Foxtel and personally I think its full of rubbish and repeats most of the time.
  • IPTV is old school

    Scott(s), you are right that what the industry is talking about is no longer the IPTV of old. Foxtel digital is IPTV - a vertical solution based on total control.

    However, as you can see from the comments made by those interviewed by Phil, the industry is no longer seeing the traditional IPTV as the solution. To be brutally honest, Australia has missed the boat on IPTV. P2P technology, codec technology and the computational power available in consumer electronics devices such as PVRs, and BD Players, is now sufficient to build modular services.

    The future will be based on a mix and match menu of consumer choices. Just as you use different suppliers for gas, electricity, petrol, telephone, internet or water, you will be able to use different suppliers for your drama entertainment, music, science fiction, sport, documentaries, etc.

    In a similar vein, just as you can purchase various types of cars from numerous manufacturers, entertainment can and will be delivered on a variety of devices from various manufacturers.

    Consumers will expect the freedom of choice, both in the content and in the technological solutions that deliver such content. The sooner the likes of Foxtel, Tivo and Telstra realise that they can not "own" the customer, the better.

    Right now, everyone is having a hard time building business cases around this technology because the prevailing aspirations are to capture the customer and get the whole cake. As soon as the approach changes to grabbing only a small slice of the cake and having lots of servings (customers) the business case will become clear.

    Consumers do not want a relationship with a chain of convenience stores when they buy a can of soft drink just the same way they do not want a relationship with Tivo when they want to see a movie. Same goes for the devices that consumers use to access the content. I should not have to drive a Holden ute in order to be able to drink Fanta, just as much as I should not be required to buy a Tivo in order to watch Warner Bros. movies or run Adobe Flash on Windows when I want to see iView.

    Universal accessibility is the key. Net neutrality is another one of the components in this equation, but that will probably need a story of it's own...
  • Australian fta

    Australian fta is quite dismal, thus iptv providing access to australian fta channels isn't exciting.
  • IPTV is not always easy to define

    There are 2 (or 3) criteria for IPTV vs Internet TV.

    In some ways IPTV is a particular type of Internet TV that fulfills the following
    - it's restricted to your ISP
    - it has QoS
    - it is watched on your TV.

    Internet TV, however, is often defined as the opposite
    - it comes from anywhere on the net
    - QoS is uncontrolled (though there are workarounds, especially progressive download)
    - it is watched on a computer.

    So what happens when the definitions are half and half - TPG's TV is only on their network but watched on a computer. TiVo & AppleTV are on any Aussie network but are watched on your TV. That seems a grey area.

    I personally take IPTV & Internet TV to be synonymous mostly. It's the evolution of TV brought about by the internet.

    I enjoyed the article. Hope to see it subscribable on iTunes soon!

    ps. Why didn't you ask your guests if iView is coming to TiVo?
  • We are on iTUnes now

    Thanks Greg,

    We are on iTunes now - click on the link at the top of each story.
  • ip tv

    for the most part IPTV sounds like the in thing, when you're out 4km from the exchange to get any decent connection source you'\ll be looking at a min of 4 or more adsl/ndsl connections because service over copper is rather poor over long distance to even suppot iptv....

    to there is only 1 transmission method we could use is fiber opitc...

    for the current time unles you're sitting within the 1st 2km's of the exchange iptv isn't going to be a reality for most of the population above the 2km range

    At present the only I can see iptv in the homes, is a implemented server located at street address with 4-8 sat and fta tv card supplying tv transmissions via gigabit lan or fiber optic lan using media boxes in each room to serve as conduits for tv broadcasts ...

    while IPTV has merit, though unless we have the fiber infrastructure in place it's going to be pointless trying to implement the iptv over copper based internet services there isn't enough bandwidth from the exchanges at all distances for adequate adsl/ndsl services nevermind the addition of iptv on the top of that..

    iptv on current infrastructure isn't possible this is the reality co's need to face before trying to implement such a service...

    living at 4km distance from the exchange I face that in reality if i was ever going to have a chance at enough bandwidth i would have to employ 4-6 adsl/ndsl connection just to get enough bandwidth for IPTV......