Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is a service that uses the internet or a local area network (LAN) to deliver TV services, rather than via cable, terrestrial or satellite. It is generally very similar to cable TV (CATV) services in its implementation and functionality.
Often it is available through only specific providers, or relies on hardware like a set-top box. An example of IPTV is Foxtel Over Internet, or the Telstra T-Box.
Internet Television tends to be more open in its business models. It does not rely on a specific provider or device. Rather, it just uses the internet in general to distribute its content. Examples of Internet Television are Netflix and Quickflix.
A complete definition of each of these terms is not the purpose of this article, so we won’t go in to it any further. We’re here to run you through what is available for Aussies, and what they key differences between these services are.
What you need
A word of warning: being internet-based services, any IPTV or Internet TV video content that you stream is going to use up your monthly cap. Streaming a film will use up just as much data as downloading it would, which is something to keep in mind if you have a limited cap. You’ll need a large monthly allowance if you’re planning on consuming a lot of content.
Some broadband plans do not count anything watched on specific services as counting towards your usage. These unmetered deals are worth looking out for, but not every service will have them available.
Speed is also a factor. If you have trouble streaming YouTube in HD then you might run in to problems with any other streamed video, especially if you share your connection with other users.
Foxtel Play (formerly Foxtel on Internet) is just like Foxtel, except you don’t need a set-top box or cable installation to get your video content. The pricing is a little different, and there are fewer channels overall, but you have more control over what you pay for.
You’ll still pay a monthly subscription fee, but there’s no lock-in contracts. This means you can experiment with various packages and see what you actually end up watching. You can even just sign up for a single month if there’s a specific sporting event you want to watch. There’s no ongoing commitment.
It’s important to note that Foxtel Play is not a video on demand (VoD) service. Just like on regular Foxtel, programs and movies air at certain times and can be paused or rewound, but not viewed anytime at your leisure.
Fetch TV is a textbook IPTV service. To get set up you need to buy a set-top box to plug in to your TV, modem and TV antenna. You can usually choose between a white and black box. After that there’s also a monthly subscription, which is a minimum commitment of 24 months.
A lot of ISPs offer Fetch TV as part of their broadband bundle deals. These deals tend to regard Fetch TV as unmetered content, meaning it won’t impact your download quota. If your provider offers Fetch, it’s a good idea to consider going through them, instead of buying it from a retailer.
In terms of what you get, Fetch TV lets you record free-to-air TV, rent movies, view catch-up TV, install apps and view a select set of movies on demand each month. You can add-on additional packages that have some familiar and popular channels. There is also a diverse range of international content, separated in to packages based on language such as Hindi, Korean, Pinoy and a few others.
Also owned by Foxtel, Presto! is solely a movie-streaming service. There are no TV series or sports options. Everything is on-demand.
There is no lock-in contract or ongoing commitment of any kind. You don’t need a set-top box or special hardware.
Presto’s real draw card is that many of its movie titles are newer than you’d expect to find on a subscription service. If that’s not important to you don’t fret; there are still some older titles on there, too. It’s a bit of something for everyone.
TPG IPTV is a little different. So long as you’re a TPG subscriber, and have a TPG IPTV-compatible modem, you can sign up to the service for $0 setup and $0 per month. It’s just an added perk for any TPG member that wants it, although availability is limited to certain areas.
The only cost you might incur is the modem, if you don’t have one already. You’ll also need a PC or tablet to stream it through.
The service itself offers various channels, with a strong focus on foreign and global content.
Quickflix is closely modelled on the world-famous (although currently unavailable in Australia) streaming service: Netflix. For a monthly subscription fee, you get access to a database of movies, TV shows and documentaries. These are all available on-demand at the click of a button.
Members can also have DVDs and Blu-Rays mailed out to them for a fee. These must be returned after a set amount of time, but tend to be more-recent titles than those available for streaming.
Apple TV is purely a rental service. First you buy the set-top box, then you browse Apple’s library and select what movie or show you want to watch. You will have access to anything you rent for a limited amount of time. You can choose between standard definition (SD) and HD content, the latter of which is usually a bit more expensive.
This is Android’s answer to Apple TV. It’s basically the same, except that the content and pricing differs slightly. You won’t need to buy an expensive set top box, but if your TV is not compatible then you will need to buy a Chromecast USB dongle. These are generally pretty affordable.
The T-Box is a strange mix of hardware and content. The set-top box itself can be bought either as a monthly instalment over 2 years, or you can save yourself some cash and purchase it outright.
Once you have it you can rent movies or TV shows, watch free to air, access BigPond Internet TV and BigPond videos, get on to YouTube or use it as a way to get Foxtel on Internet.