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Vehicular ad hoc networks (VANETs) represent a quickly emerging area of communication that offers a wide variety of possible applications, ranging from safety to entertainment. Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) services as an entertainment application over VANETs is considered to play an important role in the future of intelligent transportation systems and vehicular infotainment systems. Quality of experience (QoE) has a strong impact when choosing adequate IPTV services for end users. Among QoE measures, TV Channel Availability (CA) is utmost important. In this work, we investigate the channel availability in IPTV services offered to vehicular users via different access network technologies. We focus on different traffic intensities and various number of TV channels and we predict the CA of TV channels and the Channel Blocking Probability (CBP) to be expected. The comprehensive simulation experiments for motor-highway scenarios are achieved by means of an own simulation tool which is based on a detailed IPTV user behavior model.
IPTV services are becoming popular and are expected to rapidly expand in the near future. IPTV is defined as a service that includes multimedia services such as TV, video, audio, text, graphics, and data over IP-based networks.We define an IPTV network as the interconnection of several broadband networks that are capable to support the required bandwidth for video delivery (in particular, delivery of TV channels). In addition, an IPTV network topology can be split into five main parts: IPTV head-end, core network, metro backbone, access network and subscribers (cf. Figure 2).
In the analog cable TV network, all the channels are available simultaneously for subscribers. Analog cable TV transmits all the channels at once via a fixed cable to the subscribers, and each active subscriber then chooses a channel for viewing by using a set-top box (STB). Therefore, channel change is almost instantaneous. But IPTV differs significantly from analog cable TV, in its transmission system. In the IPTV system, a subscriber uses the STB to request for only the specific channel required at that time, and only the required channel is transmitted to this user (possibly by means of multicast).
To make the IPTV services a success, it is required to guarantee a certain level of QoE. Therefore, it is critical for an IPTV service provider to ensure an acceptable level of QoE. Subscribers will choose IPTV based on the QoE. Among QoE measures, TV channel availability (CA) is one of the most significant. Thus, it is highly desirable to evaluate the probability that requested TV channels cannot be provided, namely the CBP, in IPTV systems. A high CBP will dramatically degrade CA and consequently QoE. For providing QoE and CA for vehicular IPTV users, there are two major challenges: lack of network bandwidth and a possibly large number of handover events during the car journey.
IPTV services can be divided into two groups: Video on demand (VoD) for stored contents and Broadband-TV (BTV) for live TV channels. In an IPTV system, the TV channels are distributed towards the subscribers by using either IP unicast or multicast. In general, unicast is applied for VoD and multicast is used for BTV service for the delivery of live TV channels.
In our simulation model, vehicles entering the cell at the border of the geographical area (GA) are assumed to contain either 0 or at least 1 passenger watching TV (of course, the driver should not watch!). TV is not switched on or off in a car during the car journey along the complete highway sector observed. The system model as used in our work is demonstrated in Figure 3. A switching event happens when a user chooses a new TV channel. TV channels will be selected according to a Zipf distribution  which has an ability to represent the skewed popularity distribution of objects. The request probability P i of the i th popular channel is determined by the Zipf distribution and calculated as
where N is the total number of distinct channels, k is their rank and Θ is the Zipf parameter that determines the degree of popularity skew. When Θ is 0, all channels are equally popular. As the value of Θ increases, the popularity of channels is increasingly skewed. For Θ, we choose a value of 1.3 which is realistic according to measurements of IPTV user behavior (cf. [5, 24]).
When a user switches between channels, several sequential switching events in a short period of time represent that the user is zapping TV channels to find something interesting to view . A zapping block denotes the number of consecutively demanded TV channels before starting to watch an interesting program. Starting to watch the first channel, which is then viewed for a time period longer than 1 min represents the start of a viewing phase and is not contained in the zapping block. The user switches between zapping activities and viewing phases.
In addition to the switching of channels (zapping or normal switching from one channel viewed to another), during the viewing phase, users are undergoing a number of handover events when changing their cell within the vehicular network. During handover, when a car passes the border between two adjacent cells C1 and C2, blocking of a TV channel may occur.
The total number of provided TV channels is 100, and this is a typical number of TV channels which are currently provided by IPTV service providers. We assume the quality of video is according to the CIF standard for all the channels and the probability to select each channel is according to the Zipf distribution. Moreover, the user model assumed for IPTV user behavior is according to . As mentioned, in this case study, we executed experiments to find out, which channel availability can be expected if there exist different number of vehicles per kilometer (i.e. assuming different traffic densities) and if we would use different access network technologies with different cell sizes. Table 1 summarizes the essential experimental boundary conditions assumed in case study I.
In the second case study, we try to find out in which way various factors have an impact on CA and CBP. This evidently would be a quite important and relevant question for an IPTV service provider. In particular, we would like to know what is the effect of increasing the number of TV channels which is provided by the IPTV service provider on the channel blocking events and thus on the availability of the IPTV service for vehicular users.
Except the number of provided channels N and the density and speed parameters which are now fixed, the simulation parameter values are the same as in the first case study for all experiments of the second case study. In our experiments, we varied the number of TV channels offered by IPTV service provider, the number of lanes of the highway as well as the cell sizes in different access network technologies. The value of α was kept constant, assuming α = 0.1. The essential experimental boundary conditions underlying case study II are summarized in Table 2.
The simulation results demonstrate the implication of varying the number of the lanes, the number of TV channels provided and access network technologies in Figures 14, 15 and 16. Again, the results are given with 95% confidence intervals. The curves in Figure 14 are depicting the values of CBP whereas SBP, HBP are illustrated by Figures 15 and 16. It is observed that, as it is to be expected, when increasing the number of the lanes and the number of TV channels provided, CBP will be increased, too. As can be seen, with increasing the cell size according to the different access network technologies we assumed (namely IEEE 802.11p, WiMAX and LTE), the handover-induced blocking probability (HBP) increases much less quickly than the switching-induced blocking probability (SBP). Our questions can be answered with these experiments: access networks with small area coverage will boost the channel availability (CA). However, if we increase the number of lanes and the number of TV channels provided, CA will decrease and CBP will increase. Taking again a maximum channel blocking probability threshold of 1% in our IPTV service, we observe that
For the 12-km cell size: assuming the three- and two-lane highway scenarios, the number of TV channels (N) which still can be provided with sufficiently high availability is about N = 48 (for three lanes) and N = 75 (for two lanes).
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