IPTV for Shanghai

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IPTV advertisement

I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot about IPTV lately. The image at left is the ad I now see every month in my phone bill from China Telecom. So what is IPTV? According to Wikipedia:

> IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) describes a system where a digital television service is delivered using the Internet Protocol over a network infrastructure, which may include delivery by a broadband connection. For residential users, IPTV is often provided in conjunction with Video on Demand and may be bundled with Internet services such as Web access and VoIP.

I’m going to be moving into a new apartment soon, and IPTV is an option I’ve been considering. I’m not sure how wide the offerings are, if it compares with satellite TV (which can be a slight hassle because it’s technically “illegal”), and how easy it would be to use in conjunction with satellite TV.

Oh, and then there’s also the whole “why pay for something you can get for free online already?” issue. Well, it’s not that simple. The internet here is slow. YouTube is slow. Bittorrent downloads take a long time. The IPTV connection should be fast; real “video on demand.” For the time being, it may very well be worthwhile.

I’ve done some internet research, but I think what will help inform me the most is to make a trip to the China Telecom building (I need to go there to pay an overdue phone bill anyway) and see what they can tell (and hopefully show) me.

Here are some more links:

Shanghai set for IPTV rollout (China Daily)
SMG Prepares For Shanghai IPTV Services (Pacific Epoch)
What is IPTV? (GDBTV)
An introduction to IPTV (Ars Technica)
IPTV vs. Internet Television: Key Differences (Master New Media)
What is IPTV? (iMedia interview)


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Hi, I stumbled upon your blog awhile ago and it makes for a fascinating read. I’ve always found the chinese language and china in general pretty interesting. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to live in China and how different the culture is there, all these little things. You’re a great writer and it’s wonderful to hear your perspectives.

    My question at the moment is: What do you mean when you say sattelite tv is technically illegal in China? Is it because of government restrictions or do the companies that broadcast on the sattelites refuse to sell in the Chinese market?


  2. Joe Schmoe Says: October 16, 2006 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Jon,

    I live down South in Guandong and have also found YouTube to be horribly slow and google vids “not available in my country”. Just for the hell of it, I opened an SSH tunnel to my own server in Taiwan running Squid and both sites fly now. Strange that the net nanny here actually has an effect on the video streams.

    Before you get geared up for the big promise of IPTV, remember, it’s the content, not the transmission system. I’m sure all you’re going to get is 50 channels of the same crap we already see every day.

    Mixing Cable, IPTV, and Satellite is just a matter of finding a good TV with lots of inputs, or you can get a switch to change devices. Currently I have 3 satellite systems (Taiwan, Philippines, Thai) + shenzhen cable system + DVD player + local cable (for the GF) + a media box for watching my torrents all connected to one set.

    Great site…keep up the good work

  3. I’ll keep an eye on your later report man, thanks for being the tester. 😉

  4. Hi John!

    This IPTV thingy sounds interesting. If you ever find out whether you can use it in conjunction with satellite TV, please let us all know! Not that I’m practically interested in the issue, mind you 😛

  5. @John: Good luck with your trip to China Telecom – not once in my multiple trips there has anyone there had a fecking clue what they were selling never mind the technology behind it.

    I’ve got a friend back home that maintains servers that broadcast regular satellite channels via the Internet. He’s promised to set me up with feeds for the Stanley Cup … however, I’ll be curious to hear more about this IPTV thing.

  6. John, you’re moving house again?!? I remember at least three, maybe four blog postings about you moving house.

    Are you on the run from the law?

  7. Two questions John:

    • How slow do you describe “slow” for youtube? A 3 minute video, for example, takes… what?

    • You get your phone bill in the mail? Man, I’ve never gotten a phone bill in China. It’s always been about going to the Telecom building once a month. Then again, I’ve never asked… is that all it takes?

    1. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that it takes more than three minutes. In other words, he has to hit pause and wait for the video to load and then he can watch it. People such as myself, who live in the land* of Buddhist televangelists, scooters and fast internet connections, can just hit play and watch it without having to wait.


  8. I recently discovered a site called viidoo.com. You can watch live TV over the net. Currently, channels like NBC, CBS, Fox, Animal Planet and NBA TV are available. More channels seem to be added each day. Once you install the plug in, you can start their software and watch live tv on your pc.

    It takes about 1 minute to get a good connection. I can watch NBA games with almost no “frame jumping”. I think the technology is based on BitTorrent, so the more people with this software, the better the transfer rate.

  9. Well, at least it is much cheaper in China. How about 60 dollars (approximately 360yuan) per month, but with only 512kbps connection speed and limited data allowance (2GB) here?

  10. On the subject (sort of), do anyone here know where they stream QQTV and MySee from (location)?

    I have a hunch that it is from Taiwan, since my wife receives a pretty good “signal” when she watches them both. Normally the connection to China is not that good, so I have a feeling that I must be “aired” from outside.

  11. Hmmm, there seems are many this kind of online TVs in China actually. I used to watch “TV” on PPLive. Also got a pretty good signal. But had to give it up due to the network data usage limitation.
    I think they might have several servers in different locations. The program chooses the best one for you…

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