Terminology

What do we mean by IPTV, Connected TV, OTT, Hybrid TV?

There are many definitions of IPTV, but in general it stands for Internet Protocol Television, where television services are delivered using Internet Protocol (IP) over a managed broadband network.

TV devices that connect to the Internet or receive content programming over an IP network are now commonly referred to as Connected TVs or Connected TV devices.

OTT stands for Over The Top – referring to the fact that content or services can be provided to end customers irrespective of, and without the direct involvement of, their network provider or traditional television broadcaster. The services just use the broadband or wireless network for data transmission, without any integration to the operator’s management or billing systems, for example.

Hybrid TV is commonly defined as a device or service that uses two networks, broadcast and broadband, for the delivery of content, applications and data.

What does the OIPF mean when it speaks of referencing “open standards”?

We mean that the specifications referenced by the OIPF have been developed in some consortium or accredited standards setting organization through a consensus-driven process which is open (to that organization’s membership, if not the public), available upon request either freely or on payment and with a clear maintenance and revision process.

About the Forum

What is the mission of the Open IPTV Forum?

The Open IPTV Forum was formed in 2007 with the mission of enabling a new mass market for IPTV by creating a set of unambiguous end-to-end specifications for IPTV services of the future, followed by a certification program for devices and services implementating those specifications. Specifically, the Forum’s initial goals were to:

  • Define end-to-end, interoperable specifications for the delivery of protected and unprotected media content and interactive services over managed and unmanaged IP networks
  • Establish a certification regime for devices and services to enable a horizontal retail market for compliant devices
  • Promote the adoption of its specifications for deployments of IPTV solutions

What is the legal status of the Open IPTV Forum?

The Open IPTV Forum is a registered industry association (e.V.) within the EU under the German Civil Code.

Is Open IPTV Forum a global organization?

The Open IPTV Forum is a pan-industry initiative with members worldwide. 2012 saw a particular growth in members from North America and the first member from the Middle East. The OIPF specifications have been created to meet the common needs of all regions and hence have a world-wide relevance. Individual regions can always use the OIPF specifications as a common core and add region-specific features.

What drives the success of the OIPF in defining global specifications for IPTV?

Success of OIPF work is seen through industry adoption of parts of the OIPF specifications. The specification most widely referenced to date is the Declarative Application Environment (DAE) – the TV-compatible browser specification. One specific reuse of particular note is the case of the HbbTV Consortium, an organization that has come into existence since the OIPF was formed, and with which the OIPF has an active relationship. The HbbTV-compatible browser, defined for use with broadcaster portals for interactive applications and Catch-up TV, is a subset of the OIPF DAE specification. The HbbTV specification is now widely deployed in retail Connected TVs across most of the EU region, where many broadcasters have chosen this mechanism to deliver an enhanced broadcast experience.

The OIPF browser is also referenced by the UK Digital TV Group (DTG) as the browser for Connected TVs for use in the UK. Work is ongoing with the DTG and HbbTV to enhance the OIPF browser in a compatible manner that continues to meet new market requirements.

Recently the Japan Cable Labs announced the support of the OIPF DAE for use in cable deployments in Japan.

With the OIPF browser featuring as the key supporting pillar of standards produced by other consortia, we see the success of real-world deployments of Connected TVs, based on these standards, as proof of the gradual realization of the OIPF vision of retail, mass-market TVs.

What additional areas are OIPF investigating so as to remain focused on delivering timely and relevant solutions given the increasing breadth of relevant service types?

The industry landscape in which the OIPF operates continuously evolves and reinvents itself. To remain relevant, the OIPF and its work track these trends and ensure the published specifications keep pace with the changing expectation of the IPTV market.

The concept of ‘multi-screen’ services is one of the vogue topics for service providers and consumers alike, with many operators moving rapidly to allow consumers to view their content on any appropriate device, including TVs, PCs, smart phones and other handheld devices like tablets. Supporting this trend, the current OIPF specifications provide for the transfer or handover of service sessions from one device to another, the simultaneous sharing of content between users, and the use of one device to control others – in particular, the use of a mobile phone as an RCU (Remote Control Unit) for TV services.

The next area of specification development is to bring personalized linear and on-demand content services to multi-screen environments in the home and also to consumers on the move. This desire to include the mobile broadband landscape was helped by the merger of the bmcoforum (Broadcast Mobile Convergence Forum) into the OIPF, which gained from the broad representation and influence across the fixed and mobile broadband industries, as the two bodies have each established a leading position in their respective spheres of activity.

Other work in progress includes support for 3D content/programming, support for the evolution to IPv6-based networks, support for simple but secure streaming, and a variety of browser enhancements including but not limited to the support of the HTML5 suite of open web standards.

Membership

Is the Open IPTV Forum e.V open to new members?

Yes. The OIPF is open to all companies involved in the TV market and membership has consistently grown worldwide over the past 12 months. If you want to be a part of this community of like-minded players, and if you want to ensure your organization’s requirements and objectives are incorporated into our ongoing and future work, then please contact the OIPF and consider joining and supportingtoday: join@oipf.tv

There are many companies involved in IPTV that are not members of the Open IPTV Forum today. Why is this?

Commercial deployment or use of OIPF specifications does not require OIPF membership – so even those companies using OIPF specifications may not feel the need to participate or promote their use of the open OIPF specifications.

Additionally, some potential companies may feel they are too small to be able to commit the resources necessary to contribute to the work of the forum.

How can smaller enterprises contribute to the work of the Open IPTV Forum?

OIPF membership includes smaller companies who have taken advantage of reduced membership fees to encourage their participation. These companies generally see great benefits, and a direct return on investment, from participation in the forum alongside major players across the entire IPTV industry eco system. The OIPF particularly values the “market requirements” input from smaller enterprises who are in the best position to define the future and emerging needs for interoperable specifications in relation to their specialist business areas.

Who are the Open IPTV Forum members today?

Please see the membership list at http://www.oipf.tv/members/all.

Members include network operators, application/service/content providers, consumer electronics, mobile and home device providers, public network infrastructure providers and technology providers.

Who are the founding members of the OIPF?

The founding members of the Forum are Ericsson, France Telecom Group, Nokia Siemens Networks, Panasonic, TP Vision (originally Philips), Samsung, Sony and Telecom Italia.

What are the membership fees?

The normal membership fee for participation in the OIPF's activities is set annually by the Board. At this time, the annual membership fee is €12,000.

The OIPF has created a tiered membership fee structure to support the participation of small and medium sized businesses. In addition to the normal membership fee (see above), one new fee level set at 20% of the normal membership fee is available to businesses with annual revenues of less than €10M, while another fee level of 50% of the normal membership fee targets companies with annual revenues of less than €100M. A company that has a Board seat pays 150% of the normal annual membership fee. 

All fees are pro-rated depending on when in a calendar year a company joins the OIPF.

It should be noted that the tiered fee structure does not imply any changes in membership privileges.

What is the OIPF’s IPR policy?

The OIPF IPR policy leaves intellectual property with the owner of the IPR, but to the extent necessary to implement the OIPF specifications members are required to license their IPR on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms to other members and third parties. All members of the OIPF are bound by the same IPR Policy which is part of the OIPF Constitution and can only be changed by approval of all OIPF members. Details of the OIPF PIPR Policy can be found at http://www.oipf.tv/ipr-policy.

What is the OIPF's competition policy?

The OIPF members are committed to fostering open competition in the development and sales of products and services related to the approved IPTV specifications. All members understand that in certain lines of business they may be direct competitors and that it is imperative that they and their representatives comply with all applicable competition or antitrust laws. The OIPF Constitution has addressed these issues and requires all members to adhere to the principles of open competition when joining the OIPF.

Specifications

Are the specifications publicly available?

Can access to Managed Network and Open Internet services co-exist in the same device?

Yes, the OIPF’s specifications allow for an end device to access services from both the Open Internet as well as those served over an operator’s managed IP network. Integration of these services via the device makes the overall solution more attractive to the user, and also to service providers. While managed network services provide the QoS for an excellent end-user experience, the Open Internet approach allows for a wide range of existing and new services available over the best-effort Internet.

How has the OIPF reduced implementation complexity for terminal devices?

The OIPF specifications are rich and have a wide coverage of features; however, many real-world IPTV solutions tend to use a subset of the capabilities specified. The OIPF has defined three implementation profiles of the OIPF Solution to provide a practical connection between the broadly-based specifications and the features that are essential for ensuring a successful step-wise market introduction of IPTV.

What are the profiles defined by the OIPF Solution?

The OIPF has defined three implementation profiles of the OIPF Solution:

  • Open Internet Profile (OIP): This profile is intended for “over-the-top” services that do not utilize any QoS provision in the network or terminal management features.
  • Baseline Managed Profile (BMP): This profile expands on the OIP, adding support for Scheduled Content and Streamed VoD services that use certain managed network capabilities for content delivery. This profile also provides a software upgrade mechanism to move to the EMP.
  • Enhanced Managed Profile (EMP): Enhancing the BMP, this profile adds native support for advanced managed-network features like IMS, Broadband Content Guide and TR-069 based remote management.

As should be clear from each description, the three profiles are essentially hierarchical. The Open Internet Profile is formed of a sub-set of the features of the Baseline Managed Profile and the Baseline Managed Profile is formed of a sub-set of the features of the Enhanced Managed Profile.

Can you explain how these profiles could be used in real deployments?

Certainly. So, while managed networks and subscription-based, service-provider-managed entertainment services provide for a higher quality of viewing experience to devices conforming to the Baseline Managed Profile, broadcasters and service providers can take advantage of devices conforming to the simpler subset, the Open Internet Profile, to provide access to some services via their unmanaged broadband networks to devices conforming to the Open Internet Profile,

At the same time, note that over-the-top services from service providers such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu etc. are growing fast, each using some proprietary technology. Such services could benefit greatly from the capabilities of the OIP in connected TVs.

It should be noted that, over time, an increasing number of IPTV service providers will most likely opt for network architectures and solutions which include advanced session control and the subscription management capabilities needed for blended as well as triple and quadruple-play services. Such solutions require the use of advanced service control and authentication mechanism. The Enhanced Managed Profile utilizes IMS to provide this mechanism, which is today an aspiration rather than reality for many IPTV service providers. Thus, it would not make sense to mandate IMS for every OIPF profile. We expect to see the Enhanced Managed Profile increasing in relevance and use over time.

Why are there only three profiles?

OIPF members consciously decided to create only three distinct profiles as too many profiles would dilute the effectiveness of the interoperability of implementations. The approach of a small number of profiles, with mandatory core features and additional features such as hybrid services or local PVR support (applicable only if a broadcast receiver or a local storage capability, respectively, is available) is a pragmatic solution to align the wide-ranging specifications with today’s common IPTV practice. It is expected that OIPF-compliant TVs and STBs will be designed, characterized and distributed based on the profiles defined in this profile specification.

Are fixed and mobile converged IPTV solutions supported by the OIPF solution?

Converged scenarios are covered in Release 2 (and beyond) of the Open IPTV Forum specifications. Some integration of IPTV and communication services, such as presence and peer-to-peer messaging, were already covered in Release 1 of the OIPF specifications, and enhanced use cases including integration with voice communications services are covered in Release 2. The use of IMS, which is standardized by 3GPP for fixed and mobile networks, is used to integrate the service delivery over different access networks.

How do we ensure interoperability of the end to end solution?

A certification program is being defined and will create a process that ensures that services, equipment and software from the different companies can interoperate. See below for more on certification.

How is DLNA important for next generation of IPTV?

Home Networks are an important part of an end-to-end IPTV solution. The specifications by DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) address interoperability of mobile, PC and consumer electronic devices in seamlessly sharing digital media services across a home network. With more than 250 members ranging from manufacturers, software and application developers, hardware vendors, and retailers to content providers, DLNA is broadly supported by industry. It is thus natural for the OIPF to consider DLNA technologies as candidate elements of its specification, when it comes to specifying the delivery of IPTV services over home networks.

IMS technology is used in the OIPF specification. What role does it play and why is it important for IPTV?

We expect IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) based infrastructure and services to be broadly deployed by network operators in the near future. This is most likely going to be introduced to cater to Voice-over-LTE service offerings, but is expected to also be extended to additional multimedia services over time. Since IPTV will be part of the multimedia services offered over these networks, it was natural for the OIPF to consider IMS technologies in its specification for operator managed networks.

An OIPF Managed Network solution based on the Enhanced Managed Profile makes use of IMS to provide authentication and session management, resource and admission control and a common user database not only for the IPTV solution but for voice and messaging for any multimedia services, allowing for a variety of integrated services.

Is it possible to have a managed network solution without IMS?

Indeed it is. An implementation of the Baseline Managed Profile allows a device to use various protocols necessary for a managed service (e.g., IGMP for joining multicast sessions, RTP/RTSP for content on demand, etc.).

The OIPF solution allows an operator to gradually introduce the support of IMS without affecting the terminal device by introducing an IMS gateway as a software component in the home network, typically in the operator-provided router to the WAN.

What is the gateway centric approach?

The OIPF specifications subdivide the end-to-end IPTV service domain into a number of functional (rather than physical) elements, including the separation of the consumer terminal function (OITF) from a number of gateway functions (WAN Gateway, CSP Gateway, IMS Gateway, Applications Gateway). The OITF is concerned with the control of the display device and is typically implemented in an STB or a device equipped with a screen (such as a TV), while the gateway entities implement client functionality external to the OITF. Although the OITF and some of the gateway entities may be implemented in the same physical device, the logical separation of functionality accommodates an OIPF-compliant approach in which an external gateway is used. The gateway centric approach is considered compatible with the OIPF specifications and covered by Open IPTV Forum specification releases.

What does OIPF specify for Content and Service Protection, and why?

The OIPF specifications include two approaches for CSP, a Terminal Centric Approach (TCA) and a Gateway Centric Approach (GCA). The TCA provides consumer device vendors with the option to directly embed CSP technology into their devices. MARLIN has been selected for the Release 1 specifications. The GCA allows other CSP solutions to be used, including those that are in wide-spread use today. Two options are available: CI+ and DTCP-IP.

Deliverables

What are the main deliverables of the Open IPTV Forum?

Specifically, the Forum’s deliverables include:

  • Development of technical specifications.
  • A testing and certification program for those specifications that can be used in whole or part to create products for the delivery of entertainment services over IP networks.

Much of the groundwork envisaged is now completed and published in two solution releases which can be downloaded from http://www.oipf.tv/specifications.

When will CE devices compliant to the Forum's specifications be marketed?

It is expected that devices conforming to the Forum’s specifications will be marketed after the certification program is in place. It is not the intent of the Forum to define roll-out plans for any products. Each company should comment on its own product plans.

Will the Forum work only with certain kinds of access networks such as wire line?

The Forum will define an end-to-end IPTV solution across multiple access technologies. While the Release 1 specifications focus on wire-line access, additional access methods are also possible. Release 2 work covers mobile access and the availability of IPTV services on any capable device such as a TV, a mobile phone, a PC or a PDA.

External Relationships

How do other standards initiatives fit with OIPF?

The Forum does not duplicate the work done in other fora but makes use of standards developed elsewhere and uses them to construct its end-to-end interoperable specifications. There are many standards development organizations (SDOs) and industry fora that address IPTV and related areas such as; ATIS IIF, Broadband Forum, CEA, DLNA, DVB, ETSI TISPAN and MCD, HGI, ITU, Marlin Developer Community, OMA, SCTE, UPnP and 3GPP. Some of them have already finalized their work or are working on specifications that are of relevance to the Open IPTV Forum. They often focus on specific parts of the overall solution (e.g. home network, content protection, browser technologies) or specific deployment scenarios (e.g. managed networks).

How does OIPF ensure compatibility with external standards?

The functional blocks of the OIPF solution are derived from existing external standards, and co‑operation agreements and liaison activities are in place with external standard bodies to ensure future system compatibility. The Open IPTV Forum combines appropriate specifications from such bodies for its overall solution. Common members between the OIPF and these bodies have allowed us to ensure that the specifications are aligned. With some of them we have already established liaison relationships and exchanged documents. For the detailed status of work in other standardization bodies, please contact them directly.

Are there not too many forums trying to standardize Connected TV to their own flavor?

At first glance the global industry for Connected TV appears to be awash with standards bodies and organizations, with the OIPF being just another contender. On closer inspection however it becomes clear that the OIPF mission is to work with the ‘best of breed’ of these other organizations to draw together various specifications into one coherent, end-to-end interoperable solution. The OIPF does not seek to ‘reinvent the wheel’ on standards, rather, to extend the acronym, it seeks to build an interoperable transport system from components already created by existing standards bodies, whilst adding in components of its own. The key point is that, by conforming to the Forum’s specifications, which include and build on existing standards offerings, the industry can ensure the maximum possible level of interoperability of entertainment services and retail TVs for end-users.

Contributing standards organisations include; W3C,  DVB, 3GPP, ETSI, DLNA, OMA, MPEG, Broadband Forum, CEA, IETF, ITU, Java Community Process, JPEG, MDC and HbbTV.

With which standardization bodies is the Open IPTV Forum already collaborating?

The OIPF has set up close ties with other industry organizations, benefited from various combinations of overlapping member companies (and even individuals within those companies), and initiated formal liaisons and regular dialogue with many bodies. The OIPF specifications contain references to standards published by W3C, DVB, MPEG, 3GPP, ETSI, Broadband Forum, CEA, DLNA, IETF, ITU, Java Community Process, JPEG, MDC, OMA.

HbbTV Consortium Specifications reference the work of the OIPF as a supporting pillar for use with Connected TVs. We have hence built an active relationship in support of the rapid deployment of HbbTV-compatible Connected TVs across Europe.

Do OIPF and HbbTV cooperate with each other?

How are OIPF and HbbTV related?

The OIPF specifications provide important components for creation of HbbTV specifications. In essence, HbbTV adopts a large amount of the technical work from OIPF and applies it to an additional market sector. There is a significant overlap between OIPF and HbbTV participants.

This commonality has significant benefits for product development, especially for CE manufacturers, as two different market segments can be addressed through shared functionality, providing improved investment return for manufacturers, along with a "stepping stone implementation" towards the richer OIPF specification. Feedback from HbbTV deployment should provide technical validation of many OIPF building blocks, which benefits both activities.

Both HbbTV and OIPF use web technologies for the application format. Many HbbTV applications are expected to be trivially portable to OIPF.

The extensive common elements between the two technical solutions should provide a larger market for many application developers and give a better return on investment for manufacturers.

What specifications from the OIPF are referenced by HbbTV?

The main building block for HbbTV is Volume 5 (Declarative Application Environment) from Open IPTV Forum. The HbbTV v.1.2.1 specification also references Vol 2, the Media Formats specification, Volume 4, the Protocols, for unicast streaming over HTTP, and Vol 7, on Content & Service Protection, for CI+ and HTTP Basic and Digest authentication.

Which markets do OIPF and HbbTV target?

HbbTV focuses on European (DVB) broadcast TV whereas OIPF addresses the global market for IPTV service providers covering both managed and open internet environment. OIPF can exploit IMS-based managed network capabilities where present as well. OIPF provides three different profiles to cover different business models and market sectors 

OIPF sees HbbTV as supporting its development work and taking elements of its specifications to market segments that are not the primary focus of OIPF, adding overall market weight through overlap and commonality.

HbbTV is primarily targeted at the European retail DVB market, with either an un-managed network, or operating over a managed network provided by the broadcaster.

How does the OIPF fit with the Smart TV Alliance?

The Smart TV Alliance publicly states that they profile relevant industry specifications  (including OIPF) to define a common platform based on HTML5 for app developers, so that they can create conformant applications with the assurance that these can run on all end devices (connected TVs, tablets, etc.) which also implement that profile. As the OIPF DAE also provides a common platform for applications implemented in the current generation of TVs, we expect that the new work to enhance it with aspects defined in the HTML5 suite of specifications can only lead to a convergence between these two platforms. Having members in common will certainly drive this convergence. 

Further questions on the Smart TV Alliance should be directed to that organization.

Testing and Certification

How do the Test Suite and the certification program developed by the OIPF benefit manufacturers and service providers?

A single test suite that is used in the manufacturer’s product development activities and in the Certification program ensures that their products will predictably present IPTV services that exploit the OIPF technical specifications. Certified devices provide a level of assurance to an IPTV Service Provider that their service will be correctly presented on the television set or set top box selected by the consumer.

Has there been co-operation with other organizations regarding testing of their specifications?

The development of the OIPF Test Suite has involved co-operation with other industry initiatives, most significantly HbbTV and their own test suite development. The test suites from OIPF and HbbTV utilize the same base for the test harness specification enabling test material to use the same test tools for devices implementing the specifications.

Additionally, we will identify testing activities from other groups that can provide companion and/or prerequisite tests for devices implementing the OIPF specifications.

Will the certification process be available to the entire industry?

Yes. The certification process will make use of Test Centers who perform conformance testing using the OIPF Test Suite against any device, whether manufactured by an OIPF member or not. Manufacturers who have licensed the OIPF Test Suite can also perform testing for certification reporting on Next Production Models, i.e. updates to the First Production Model that was tested at a Test Center. The OIPF Test Suite is only licensed to companies who are members of the Open IPTV Forum.