One of the next major steps in technology will be the entry of IPTV into the outh African market, writes Annie Padayachee, marketing manager at XDSL Broadband. However, many of us have heard of the term or acronym but don't have an understanding of what it actually is and how it works.

According to Wikipedia: "IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is a system where a digital television service is delivered by using Internet Protocol over a network infrastructure, which may include delivery by a broadband connection. A general definition of IPTV is television content that, instead of being delivered through traditional broadcast and cable formats, is received by the viewer through the technologies used for computer networks."
To the average Joe this means that we can take TV and add all the features of the Web and enjoy one amazing experience. You will no longer need to sit alone in your study or office staring at your PC screen. You will instead be able to enjoy your experience from your favourite lazy boy because you will be watching everything on your TV in your comfortable South African sitting room.
You will be able to choose whatever material you want to see and what time you want to see it. For example, when viewing sporting events, you can change the camera angle as per your choice. You will be able to watch advertisements and choose to see inside a vehicle during an automotive ad.
This means that all South African media companies will have to evolve with this technology. The consumer will have choices which are not available to us now. Advertisers will be in their element trying their best to gain market share with their advertisements.
To utilise IPTV, you will require a broadband Internet connection and your TV will be connected to a set top box, something like the present DStv decoder, or even a portable device such as a mobile phone.
Europe and Asia have been the leaders in implementing these Internet Television services for paying customers. Internet Television is a more interesting alternative to cable TV also in countries where there is a poor cable infrastructure, like India and China.
Microsoft IPTV edition, called Mediaroom, is one of the software applications available. Some new features include Personal Media Sharing (stream music and photos to the TV), a Multimedia Application Environment (access to web services and applications) and Enhanced MultiView (essentially picture-in-picture).
We have quite a wait to endure, though. A total of 18 applications have been received by ICASA. Hearings began in May this year to fine tune that number to a selected few. We will have to wait until the 18 applicants for the PayTV licence are all "heard out". The selected few will then need to partner with Internet Service Providers who will market the product to the South African consumer. We can anticipate something happening in 2008.