IPTV Crash Course – A Must Read [book review]

IPTV Crash Course Image

[IPTV Crash Course, by Joseph Weber, Ph.D. and Tom Newberry, McGraw Hill]

The bottom line to this review is that this book is a must-read for anyone remotely interested in the topic of IPTV. There are gems in this book for both the non-technical IPTV neophyte as well as the highly experienced, techno-savvy, IPTV veteran. Co-authored by Viodi View reader, Dr. Joe Weber, this book provides an excellent overview of both the telco-managed approach to IPTV as well as the over-the-top approach exemplified by companies such as TiVo. Weber should know something about TiVo’s plans, as he is Director of Product Management for TiVo.

Weber’s background with CableLabs and TiVo gives him a unique perspective into a somewhat still undefined topic. The book is somewhat broad, but that reflects the nature of the topic as the chapters of this 300+ page book could probably be a book in itself. The eight chapters cover how IPTV is changing television, the system model, the technology of Internet Protocol, digital television, home networking, content protection and standardization efforts.

The only real criticism I have of the book is it could have made a finer delineation between the over-the-top efforts of the YouTubes and Neulions of the world, as compared to the managed IPTV efforts of an AT&T. I believe there almost needs to be two terms for these similar, but different approaches – e.g. Over the Top IPTV and Managed IPTV. The only other nitpick I have is the statement on page 203 that suggests that only cable television companies have been able to deploy triple play services. In fact, some of my independent telco friends have been deploying triple play since the last century.

These criticisms are minor for a book that covers such a broad and ever-changing subject. It does an excellent job of putting the technologies in context of the business model and the competitive threats from the cable industry. The authors clearly realize that, in the end, the only advantage that IPTV will have is if it allows operators to provide greater value than the current way of doing things.

The chapter on standardization and interoperability does a good job of describing all of the players (save the newest entrant IPTV Open Forum) which are trying to sort out this complicated, but critical process.

This book is an easy read, in part, because there are no footnotes. In fact, it required the equivalent of about a cross-country flight for from start to finish. The comprehensive reference section as well as glossary makes this a valuable reference book and one that I recommend to anyone interested in the topic of IPTV.