How real is IPTV? As I’ve pointed out before, the definition of IPTV varies depending on who you talk to, but in general it means the distribution of video content over the Internet. YouTube is a limited type of IPTV, but there are services out there that look just like a typical cable TV broadcast or on-demand service.
In this country, we’re saddled with an enormous (and well entrenched) infrastructure based on the broadcast network model. But just as many developing countries have skipped wired telephone service and gone directly to cell phones, television distribution in other parts of the world are skipping the traditional broadcast model and relying on Internet distribution instead. And nowhere is this more apparent than in China.
A report by Pyramid Research projects that the number of IPTV subscribers in China will top 10 million by 2011. That’s an enormous number, and will undoubtedly help fuel the adoption of IPTV in other countries by driving down the costs of the components required to build the infrastructure. It’s worth noting that China has also announced that it is developing its own version of digital television signals for over the air broadcast — competing with the ATSC standard used in the U.S. — so the future of Chinese TV is not all Internet all the time, but expect IPTV to become as familiar a part of the television menu as cable and satellite.