Mobile IPTV

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Mobile IPTV is a technology that enables users to transmit and receive multimedia traffic including television signal, video, audio, text and graphic services through IP-based the wired and wireless networks with support for Quality of Service/QoE, security, mobility, and interactive functions. Through Mobile IPTV, users can enjoy IPTV services anywhere and even while on the move.

Technical approaches to Mobile IPTV[edit]

Mobile TV plus IP[edit]

This approach uses the traditional digital broadcast networks to deliver IP-based audio, video, graphics and other broadband data services to the user on the move. This is a prime example of the increasing convergence of broadcasting, telecommunications and computing. The reason why it is pursued is to build a content environment that combines the stability and usability of broadcasting and the diverse services of Internet. To make this approach more attractive, wide area wireless networks such as cellular networks are integrated to support interactivity. The outstanding activities in this approach are Digital Video Broadcast (DVB)-CBMS (Convergence of Broadcasting and Mobile Services) and WorldDAB (DAB: Digital Audio Broadcasting) Forum. In addition, DVB-IPI (IPI: IP Infrastructure) (is an open DVB standard that enables audio/video services to be delivered to and through the mobile device via IP networking. DVB-CBMS is developing bi-directional mobile IP based broadcasting protocol specifications over DVB-H. DVB-CBMS already finished Phase I and currently is working in Phase II. WorldDAB Forum is enhancing and extending Eureka 147 to support IP based services.

Eureka 147 was originally developed for digital radio applications and extended to support video services. Even though this approach is classified as Mobile IPTV technically, the usage of broadcasting networks may incur the loss of individuality of IP.

IPTV plus Mobile approach[edit]

Although many think that “networked TV” will be the future of television, IPTV is currently dominated by Telco giants in an attempt to find a new source of cash-in. IPTV services are originally targeted to fixed terminals such as set-top boxes, however, issues on the requirements for mobility support were raised as an out-growth under the auspices of the Fixed-Mobile Convergence (FMC) trend. The outstanding activities are ATIS in the US, Open IPTV Forum, and ITU-T FG IPTV internationally. The development of Mobile IPTV specification is at an early stage. Currently, ITU-T FG IPTV is collecting requirements regarding mobility and wireless characteristics. ATIS has not shown any interest in mobility support yet. In Open IPTV Forum, mobility service entirely based on IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) which is a set of specification from 3GPP for delivering IP multimedia to mobile users will be forthcoming.

Cellular approach[edit]

Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) BCAST is working for IP based mobile broadcasting networks. Its goals are to define an end-to-end framework for mobile broadcast and compile the set of necessary enablers. Its features are bearer agnostic, which means any Broadcast Distribution Network can be adopted as its transport means. OMA BCAST, however, is only applicable to mobile terminals up to now and showing interest in expanding its specification to cover fixed terminals in Phase II.

Internet approach[edit]

There are already countless Internet video services worldwide. They are usually termed as Internet TV or Web TV. These are outgrown for a niche entertainment business. With this approach, there can be quite different models developing on the business type and infrastructure used. This approach is open for anybody to play a role in the value chain: anybody can be a content provider, a service provider, or simply a consumer. This resulted in a universe of highly diversified and dynamically independent production. In addition, the openness gives global reach. However this Internet approach has a shortcoming that the quality of services is not guaranteed since it is based on the best effort service model. However, considering its rapid adaptation to customer needs, this approach may be dominant in the near future. As long as mobile devices use the Internet, users can access an IPTV service through various wireless access networks.


In addition, Mobile IPTV has at least one wireless interface with a device. A minimum of 2–3 Mbit/s of bandwidth needs to be provided, due to the characteristics of the IPTV service. Wireless technologies for short-range use or control purposes are not fully considered yet.

There are many obstacles on the path to the successful launch and widespread use of Mobile IPTV businesses. One group of obstacles is technical and the other business. Since Mobile IPTV assumes at least one wireless link between the source (e.g. stream server) and the destination (e.g. mobile terminal), most of the technical obstacles are related to the usage of the wireless link. As for business perspective, customer needs for watching TV programs on the go seems not to be so high. For the second obstacle, content might be a major player.

Capability limitation[edit]

Most of the mobile terminals have limited capabilities compared to fixed terminals. This mainly ascribes to portability considerations, which lead to small displays, low power processors, and limited storage. Capability limitations implicate very strict requirements that only a restricted set of technologies can be considered as possible Mobile IPTV solutions; light-weightiness is essential.

Bandwidth limitation[edit]

Even though the effective bandwidth of wireless links is growing rapidly, it’s not until the 4G wireless network is fully deployed that the wireless link bandwidth becomes broad enough to accommodate High Definition quality video services. Even when the 4G wireless network is available, bandwidth greedy applications will come out: such as Ultra High Definition quality video services. The wireless link will always have less bandwidth than the wired link, and be short of bandwidth. Mobile IPTV Use Bandwidth Minimum 2-3 Mbit/s

Vulnerable wireless link[edit]

The wireless link is very vulnerable. Even if mobile terminals are stationary, temporal reflectors and obstacles around the mobile terminals can affect the received signal and cause burst packet losses. Considering the movement of mobile terminals, packets delivered through the wireless link are exposed to a variety of signal degradation such as shadowing, fast/slow fading, etc. Packet losses are intrinsic and inevitable in the wireless link.

Coverage implication[edit]

The main reason for carrying mobile terminals is to get access to the services any time and any where. Because it is practically impossible to deploy wireless networks to cover all geographical areas with no dead spots, services are restricted in some areas. However, by adopting vertical hand-overs (hand-overs between different networks), the coverage issue can be considerably mitigated.

Dynamic environment[edit]

The wireless link is highly dynamic compared to the wired link. The characteristics of the wireless can vary due to a variety of causes and the rate of change is very abrupt. For example, vertical handover can change almost everything—the whole path between the sources and the sink, bandwidth, PHY/MAC, IP address—in a blink. Therefore many solutions devised for the relatively static wired computer network environment may not work properly.

Middleware concern[edit]

Middleware is one of the key functions of the IPTV service. By deploying middleware, a service provider can control the usage of IPTV service remotely. Also, middleware acts as a transparent solution for adopting IPTV services on to various and different platforms. So far, there are several well-known middleware solutions on a set-top box. It is, however, too heavy to be implemented on a mobile device. By slimming down the existing middleware, these may be able to be applied to Mobile IPTV.

Business issue[edit]

The most significant problem of the Mobile IPTV business (this applies to Mobile TV in the same way) is that the consumer need for watching TV program on the go is not so high. This is mainly because there is limited time for enjoying visual services on the go. This requires Mobile IPTV services to be far more attractive than the consumers’ expectation. Usability is another main obstacle for the success of Mobile IPTV business. Due to the small form factor of mobile devices, it is not possible to adopt fancy User Interface methods. A highly creative and new way of interfacing is required. Watching favourite TV programs live may be the most attractive feature of Mobile IPTV. Currently, customers have many channels to enjoy their favourite TV programs whenever they want. This means the liveness of TV programs become less and less important except for some events such as sports. New killer features are required.

The lack of mobile contents frustrates the early adopters of Mobile TV. Contents must be tailored for mobile environments. For example, small display sizes, random and short watching time should be considered.


Related publications[edit]

  • Soohong Park and Seong-Ho Jeong, "Mobile IPTV: Approaches, Challenges, Standards and QoS Support", IEEE Internet Computing, Vol. 13, Issue 3, pp. 23–31, May–June 2009
  • Soohong Park, Seong-Ho Jeong and Cheolju Hwang, Mobile IPTV Expanding the Value of IPTV, The seventh International Conference on Networking, pp. 296–301, 2008. (DOI 10.1109/ICN.2008.8)
  • Soohong Park, Cheolju Hwang and el. al, Mobile IPTV Requirements for Non-NGN, TTA Technical Report (TTAR-08.0001), February 2008
  • Djama. I and Ahmed. T, A Cross-Layer Interworking of DVBT and WLAN for Mobile IPTV Service Delivery, IEEE Transactions on Broadcasting, Vol. 53, No. 1, pp. 382–390, 2007
  • Mushtaq, Mubashar; Ahmed, Toufik, P2P-based mobile IPTV: Challenges and opportunities, Computer Systems and Applications, 2008. AICCSA 2008. IEEE/ACS International Conference on March 31, 2008-April 4, 2008 Page(s):975 - 980 (DOI 10.1109/AICCSA.2008.4493663)
  • Carlsson. C and Walden. P, Mobile TV–To Live or Die by Content, IEEE 40th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, pp. 51–60, 2007
  • J. She, F. Hou, P.-H. Ho, and L.–L. Xie, “IPTV over WiMAX: Key Success Factors, Challenges and Solutions”, IEEE Communications Magazine, vol. 45, no. 8, pp. 87–93, Aug. 2007

Related standard activities[edit]