Digital TV is moving in to the connected age, using the internet to deliver programmes to the viewer, and supplement tradition broadcast channels. Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) first emerged as a complex managed network solution, where the network is designed to guarantee the quality of the video delivered. This works well, but is expensive, and is the preserve of the network owner, typically a Telecoms operator.

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However, improvements in broadband speeds and streaming technologies now mean it is possible for a wider range of content owners, broadcasters, internet service providers, and CE manufactures to offer what is known as Over The Top (OTT) IPTV services. OTT services work using the standard internet, rather than relying on a managed network solution.

A prime example of an OTT service is Catch-Up TV, where many broadcasters are offering access to the last week's worth of TV programmes via the internet. As OTT technology enables services to be delivered relatively cheaply. Equipment manufacturers are also integrating their own on demand services for music and video.

These services often rely on similar technologies to underpin them, but each manufacturer's solution is proprietary, so applications written for one receiver won't just work on another. Integrating new services is therefore a bespoke operation for a given product, which is not ideal for broadcasters and other content providers who would prefer to be able a single application which works across all platforms.

Efforts are now being made to standardise the way in which OTT services are delivered to TVs and STBs. A prime example is the introduction of an IP based "Interaction Channel" to the MHEG-5 standard (MHEG-IC) to enable IPTV services, as well as information services, online shopping, games, and social networking. The extremely popular BBC iPlayer has an MHEG-5 implementation that has been adopted by Freeview HD and Freesat in the UK, and works across all compliant platforms regardless of the manufacturer.

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Pixsan has been working on MHEG-IC since its inception by the DTG, and today has a fully compliant solution. For more information on this please visit our MHEG-5 engine product page.

Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV), is a new standard that has been introduced to combine the best of broadcast with the best of broadband TV. Founded by a consortium of broadcasters, manufacturers and technology companies, HbbTV is based on existing standards and technologies for digital broadcasting and the internet: DVB, W3C, Open IP TV Forum. On a simplistic level, HbbTV can be thought of as the combination of a DVB stack to manage broadcast services, a web browser for internet based interactive services, and a media player for streaming media services.

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HbbTV is still a relatively new standard, but it is gaining a lot of traction in the market place, particularly in Europe, where Germany, France, and the Netherlands are in the process of launching or trailing services, and a range of TV & STB manufacturers are launching HbbTV enabled products. Furthernore the UK has published Dbook7 which includes Dbook7 part B furthering the work to develop seamless architectures between broadcast, interactive and IP. Read more about Dbook 7 here.

Pixsan has been continually active in the area of Dbook 7HbbTV and has worked with leading browser providers to be able to offer manufacturers the choice between a complete solution, or a component based approach. For more information on this please visit our HbbTV Product Page.