Ofcom studies prospects for IPTV

Ofcom is researching how varying quality of service on the internet could impact takeup of IPTV in the UK.

The work is part of ongoing research into content delivery methods, including a consultation on super-fast broadband, and will continue into next year. Ofcom gave details of its ongoing studies in a report, Tomorrow's Wireless World, this week. A focus will be the range of potential uses for wireless technologies.

Work on IPTV will contribute to debate about increases in traffic levels, and the challenges posed to network operators, attributed to rapid growth in internet video. However, it appears Ofcom's focus will be on the development of dedicated television services over broadband internet connections. Despite in-roads by companies such as Tiscali, IPTV is significantly less developed in the UK than some other markets.

Ofcom said it would investigate "the technological and economic barriers to providing high quality television services over the internet".

"One of the major reasons for poor quality of service over the internet is congestion... leading to some data being lost or severely delayed," the report stated. "In this study, we will seek to understand the various reasons why congestion occurs, the impact it has and whether we can take any regulatory measures to improve the situation."

The regulator is also undertaking a broader "socio-economic study of the entertainment sector". The report said: "We anticipate that the manner in which video and audio is distributed, stored and subsequently consumed will have a major impact on the underlying communications infrastructure...

"The study will develop scenarios describing a view of the future entertainment sector over periods of ten and 20 years. These scenarios will then be examined to determine the technological developments required and the likely impact on spectrum and network demands."

A major concern for Ofcom's research programme is spectrum, for which it often holds the role of auctioneer. It will look at estimating value and predicting areas of spectrum shortage.