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What is IPTV?

In the UK, the four ways to access digital TV are terrestrial, satellite, cable and IPTV.

As the name suggests, IPTV is television broadcast over Internet Protocols, which just means it's television services provided through internet and broadband connections instead of radio frequency. IPTV is reputed to be the most efficient way to provide digital TV to the public.

IPTV refers to how TV signals are received, not the device you're watching TV on. Watching television shows on your computer using an on-demand service (like 4oD or Netflix) or watching video on your computer isn't the same thing as IPTV.

With IPTV, you can get a huge array of channels transmitted to your home TV over your home phone line using an IPTV set-top box. IPTV is often bundled with packages offering broadband, video on demand (VOD) and voice over IP (VoIP). Together the bundles are often referred to as Triple Play packages.

Have a look at some digital TV packages on uSwitch now.

Who is offering IPTV?

IPTV is offered by most providers these days, including:

All UK IPTV providers offer some very attractive deals when bundled with other services.

Powered by the YouView box, BT's service features some fantastic premium programming, including highly-rated sports coverage, and is available with home telephone and internet bundles.

Virgin Media's equivalent (powered by TiVo) can be combined with some excellent fibre-optic broadband packages.

TalkTalk's IPTV service also uses a YouView box and stands out for its affordable price points.

Interested in BT YouView or BT Vision? Compare BT TV Deals now.

Prefer Virgin Media? Compare Virgin Media IPTV deals now.


Considerations when buying IPTV

  • Package price
  • Cost of installation
  • Other perks of the broadband bundle
  • Cost of set-top box
  • Speed of connection

In order to use IPTV, you need to have a connection with an IPTV provider who will supply you with a set-top box. Most premium packages from BT, TalkTalk, Sky and Virgin Media provide the box and waive an installation free.

Providers also offer a 'catch-up TV' feature — for example, Virgin's NPVR (network-based Personal Video Recorder) service — which allows users to pause, fast forward and rewind programmes.

The future

Although the jury is out on whether IPTV will be the standard in the future, there's no denying that analog is dead.

If you're used to only watching broadcast television shows, IPTV will open a number of new doors for you, allowing you greater freedom and variety to watch what you want to, when you want to.

More importantly, it moves internet and TV services into one connection so you can enjoy both from your lounge instead of your computer room.

Compare broadband and digital TV packages at uSwitch now.