July 14, 2023 - There is often some confusion about the differences between AV-over-IP and IPTV technologies. Michael Chorpash, VP of Sales at VITEC, discusses what considerations you need to make before deciding, including costs, functionality and bandwidth. This is also why choosing an experienced partner with an understanding of the technologies is important to help deliver the right technology for the application at hand.
Much has been said about the capabilities of AVoIP as an emerging option in recent years, while IPTV is a more established technology within the marketplace. There are, however, distinctions in the way the two technologies operate, which leads to variations in the potential costs involved in an installation, as well as the functionality available to end users. The full article AVoIP or IPTV? Consider the Costs and Benefits of Video Distribution Options on pages 34-35 of System Contractor News defines some key differences between AVoIP and IPTV, and what considerations an integrator should have in mind when specifying a system.
Not an Easy Choice
There are some scenarios where a zero-latency, low-compression solution is critical—and in such cases, an AVoIP solution is likely the best option. However, many installations are suited to IPTV, which offers additional benefits such as "time shifting," which allows the ability to pause streams on an individual device without pausing them across the entire network. IPTV offers further options to deliver an enhanced, customized experience for both management and end users, with the ability to stream to various devices including computer desktops, mobile devices, set-top boxes, and directly to SmartTVs. IPTV can also be a more cost-efficient solution, with an existing IP network likely capable of handling streams, instead of requiring significant network upgrades. Choosing an experienced integrator partner with understanding of the respective technologies will help to deliver the right technology for the application at hand.
Need to record video? IPTV solutions will record in a native format, but AVoIP requires a third-party product to achieve this functionality. Plus, if a company wants to reach out to remote sites over the internet (via WAN streaming), this is not possible with AVoIP. With IPTV, as an industry standard supporting low bit rates, it's very simple to stream to remote sites or mobile devices. Before specifying an AVoIP solution, which can involve significant expenditure, planning, and infrastructure upgrades, it is worth looking to see if an IPTV system can fulfill the use case required. Effective IPTV solutions have been implemented in many verticals, including corporate, healthcare, transportation, education, hospitality, and sports venues.
Playback, Latency and Compression are important Considerations
The network is the foundation of both systems, so the first aspect to consider is the network to be used. An AVoIP solution requires significant bandwidth to display streams, which may overwhelm an existing network and require additional network infrastructure investment from the start. In contrast, IPTV systems can generally run on an existing network.
To counter network congestion, IPTV reduces the size of video with high levels of compression. The misnomer is that with high compression you get less quality, but there is so much information in a digital video stream that it can maintain very high quality.
AVoIP is known for having excellent low latency, essentially real time from encoder to decoder. AVoIP devices can only play on a monitor, which requires a proprietary hardware decoder with an HDMI out. And because AVoIP is proprietary, there is a tendency to be locked into a specific manufacturer, which could cause additional issues when looking to scale up a system.
An IPTV solution can take these feeds as they are and distribute them; all it takes is a gateway to receive and send the video out over a network. With AVoIP, a set-top box is needed that sends HDMI to an encoder in every case. All sources need to be re-encoded.
IPTV uses ISO industry standard formats, such as MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4/ H.264, and HEVC, which allows playback on TVs, computers, and mobile devices. By using these industry standards, IPTV also allows the mixing and matching of products together.
There are IPTV solutions that deliver sub-frame latency, glass-to-glass real time, with very minimal delay. If a facility wants to take in entertainment channels from a cable system or DirecTV, those feeds are already compressed in industry standard formats.
With more organizations adopting IP-based solutions to handle video distribution, there tends to be confusion about the difference between AV-over-IP and IPTV technologies. This is not surprising, given that both are IP-based video technologies with the primary goal of distributing video signals over a network to enable playback, be that external television streams, internal video streams, digital signage content, or other sources.
by VITEC Marketing