There are different ways for viewers to get television content at their home:
one can tune in to broadcast networks or can request streamed content via Internet networks.
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Satellite TV: Real time Television broadcast content from providers like TATASKY, DISH TV, AIRTEL etc , delivered via radio frequency waves through the medium AIR. Charged on monthly basis.
Cable TV: Real time Television broadcast from Headend Service Providers providers like SITI CABLE, IN-CABLE, ACT, ORTEL etc, delivered via coaxial cable connection from Cable Operator into subscriber homes. Charged on monthly basis.
IPTV (Internet Protocol Television): Time deferred Television content dumped into servers from providers like JIO, AIRTEL etc delivered over the Internet via a privately-managed networks operated by a TELCO, charged on data flow basis.
OTT Streaming: Television from third-party services like Netflix and YouTube, delivered over the open Internet, again a TELCO domain service also charged on data flow basis.
There are essentially two ways for viewers to get television content in their home: one can tune in to broadcast networks, or can request streamed content via Internet networks.
Broadcast networks include:
Satellite TV & Cable TV
As the name suggests, broadcast networks operate by broadcasting content from a central point to many receiving points (one to many principle).
In the case of cable, content is aggregated and turned around broadcast content from a Headend through a dedicated coaxial cable network connection.
In the case of satellite, it comes as radio waves that you pick up with a satellite dish and set top box, without an intermediary like a cable operator.
Cable and satellite both function by letting the viewer “tune in” to specific programs within a channel. The primary difference is in the medium. Cable TV is delivered through a wired medium/connection while Satellite TV is wireless, i.e. medium is AIR (until it reaches your house).
Internet networks include:
IPTV & OTT Streaming
Internet networks differ from cable and satellite by offering content through the client-server model that delivers your email, websites, and other Internet-based services. (IP stands for Internet Protocol, the “language” used to transfer packets of data between computers attached to the Internet network.)
In both cases, the consumer requests and receives content via Internet Protocol. The primary difference between IPTV and OTT streaming is that OTT streamed content comes over the same open, unmanaged network as your email and web browsing while IPTV uses a private, dedicated network to deliver more consistent service.
Unlike cable or satellite where content is broadcast in real time, IPTV and OTT streaming services store programming on servers (whether that’s Netflix or an IPTV subscription like U-Verse), allowing users to request the content over the Internet at any time.
Pros & Cons For Consumers
For most of viewers , the cost and functionality of home TV is more important than understanding the nuts and bolts. With that in mind, here’s a quick overview of each option:
Quality: Dedicated line for high-quality video with no “buffering.”
Programming: Hundreds of channels, with several programs in each channel available at the same time as broadcasted.
Frequently bundled with broadband cable Internet for a lower price where 3Play is enabled through cable modems.
Availability: Only available in networks erected by service providers.
Cost: Generally higher than satellite, IPTV, and OTT streaming.
Convenience: Several programs available for a fixed monthly subscription in India.
Programming: Real time broadcasts Comparable to cable.
Availability: Coverage virtually everywhere in the foot print of the satellite.
Price: Generally higher than cable but better organized and managed Customer Care.
Quality: Constant broadcast, by and large, means no service interruption, although rain can cause outage depending on setup.
Convenience: Requires a separate device to record programming for view-on-demand.
Price: Monthly prices
Installation: All you need is a laptop or phone. (Having a streaming TV box like the Roku or Apple TV enhances the experience, though.)
Programming: Wide choice of providers, with Netflix and others now offering original programming similar to cable.
Quality: Subject to Internet speed, with buffering and other wait-times common for slow connections and peak-hour viewing.
Programming: While most shows can be found via major streaming services, some are cable-only and they generally don’t reach OTT streaming until the end of the season.
Data caps: Many ISPs now have limits on how much data you can consume, putting a limit on how much you can watch each month. (Yes, even with unlimited plans.)
Even FTA gets billed on data flow basis.
Quality: High-quality video with fewer interruptions than OTT streaming due to privately managed content delivery network.
Programming: View-on-demand and hence time deferred to watch in own time ande convenience
Installation: requires no special installation aside from a set-top box, assuming viewer already have broadband Internet connection from a TELCO.
Price: Sold as a subscription at comparable rates to cable TV.
Quality: Since it comes over the Internet, it can get slowed down during peak hours.
Writer: Lt. Col. (Retired) Vinod Chandra Khare