TV consumers live in the golden age of television. Thousands of channels, 4K HD devices and plenty of signal providers to choose from. Sometimes the boundary between the Internet and classical broadcast media gets blurry because content providers hurry to offer their services in bundles. This creates confusion with the consumers, but if you learn your stuff, you will certainly be happy with the content providers have to offer.
Here we will explain the basic similarities and differences between the four „types“ of television, so to say. The four types refer to the way the consumer receives the signal – radio waves (satellite TV), cable connection (cable TV), privately managed Internet network (IPTV internet) and the open Internet (over-the-top streaming or OTT).
The basics of TV signal providers
Television signal invades your home in, essentially, two ways: the broadcast networks or the Internet networks.
Broadcast networks include satellite TV and cable TV. It is the more traditional way to deliver content. In both cases, TV content gets to your home from a central point: either as radio waves which you pick up with your satellite dish or via a coaxial cable network. Both systems allow the users to choose the channels they want within the range of the signal. The main difference between the two, of course, is the way the signal is delivered. Wirelessly in the case of satellite and with the help of a cable in case of cable TV.
Internet networks include the Internet Protocol TV or IPTV and OTT (over-the-top) streaming. In this case, TV content arrives via the Internet, just like your emails do. The Internet Protocol (IP) serves as a special language used to transfer information. The main difference between IPTV and OTT is the type of the network used. While IPTV is a dedicated, closed, private network which has a more consistent service, OTT utilizes the unmanaged, open network which you typically use when browsing the Internet.
Advantages and disadvantages from the eye of the consumer
Cable TV offers a lot of content, hundreds of channels in high-quality video standards without buffering and is bundled into packages for economical reasons. The downside is that you have to live near a provider. Also, costs are in most cases higher than other TV systems.
Satellite TV is similar to cable when it comes to programming, it is available practically anywhere, and it comes with a lower price tag compared to cable. Cons include lower signal quality due to bad weather.
OTT streaming is remarkably cheap, with a lot of free content. Installation is very simple, and it offers so many programming options. However, signal quality is the main issue here due to varying internet speeds. Also, many providers choose to limit the amount of maximum data you can consume.
Finally, IPTV provides high-quality video signal with much fewer interruptions. Programming options are available with video-on-demand and installation is quick and simple. Cons include pricing levels comparable to cable TV and slow signal in peak hours.