IPTV stands for Internet Protocol TV—but what does “Internet Protocol” mean? It’s the essence of how the Internet works.
Send an email to a friend or download a web page and the information you set in motion doesn’t travel in one big lump, as you might expect. Instead, it’s broken up into lots of small pieces, known as packets, each of which may be “switched” (sent) to its destination by a different route. Packet switching, as this is known, is the basic principle of how any information travels over the Internet. The computers that link the Net together don’t know what any given packet means or what it does. All they know is the IP address (a numeric “house and street name” given to every computer on the Internet) where the packet has to go—and they treat all packets equally.
The Internet isn’t designed to do a particular job, such as delivering emails: it’s simply a highly efficient, computerized “postal” system for delivering zillions of packets. The simple but amazing consequence of this is that as long as you can turn information into packets, you can send it over the Internet—whatever the information might be.