What the hell is IPTV

Dumbed down basics of IPTV technology, from my experiments with getting IPTV to work

What is IPTV

IPTV is the abbreviation for Internet Protocol TeleVision, which means, TV delivered over Internet.

If you have been watching videos over the Internet since you were a kid, you’d say, “What’s so special about that”, and you’d be probably right.

But ask the generation who’s seen TV only on TV, they’ll find it confusing (like I did, in the beginning)

So far, TV Channels were delivered through a combination of radio waves and cables. The radio waves to get the TV Channels from their broadcasting centers to city-wide cable channel operators (or directly to your home – DTH!), and then from cable operators to your TV.

IPTV uses Internet to deliver the TV, instead of radio+cable.

If you’re familiar with Live Streaming and Video on Demand, it’s a bit like that.

In Short..

From my understanding, in an IPTV setup, you’re using TV-like interfaces, such as a TV-remote, to talk to a set-top-box (STB), which is accessing a list of videos that you can play by streaming them over the internet.

This is essentially like accessing online playlist of videos. Either pre-recorded, or live.

Why am I talking about it

TL;DR: Basically I wanted to share my learnings with you, to help you decide whether to get IPTV, understand how it works, or how to setup.

I wanted to get TV in my new apartment after getting a habit of watching TV at my cousin’s house. Till now, I never watched TV, even when I had a TV set which was mainly used for Chromecast or PS4.

So when I started looking at my options, I started noticing IPTV at my friends’ and relatives houses, and was often hearing about how inexpensive and how many options it offers.

So I thought of giving it a try, but my journey had a lot of bumps and confusions. Since now I have a better grip of how the whole thing works, I wanted to share it with you.

The Protocols

To access these playlists, I figured there are majorly two different protocols in use:

  1. Stalker
  2. M3U Playlist

Stalker

Stalker is a protocol to communicate with the Stalker Middleware, which is developed by a company called Infomir. From what I could find, Stalker Middleware is an open source middleware software which lets any clients watch videos over Internet, and makes it easy to present the videos in lists.

The middleware speaks in Stalker protocol, so all the clients should know how to speak Stalker protocol too.

There are many clients available which work with Stalker protocol

M3U

MP3 URL, or M3U, is basically a URL to an online playlist. This playlist lists all the channels and videos available for a client to watch.

Many players, for example, VLC Player, can connect to and play M3U playlists.

Getting IPTV to work

If you’re like me, you’ll be talking to a person who’s a reseller, and hasn’t got time to explain things to you.

Again, if you’re like me, they’ll be selling you a stalker protocol based service.

The steps will be :

  1. Get an Android TV Box, which can run a Stalker client
    1. You can also use the open-source home media center Kodi, with it’s Stalker Add-On – But it hasn’t worked for me yet
    2. You can also get any Stalked enabled mobile app on your mobile phone and cast on your TV, if that works for you. I haven’t tried this yet, I might.
  2. Get a Stalker enabled player on the box, such as:
    1. Stalker TV (from Infomir)
    2. STB EMU (Set-Top-Box Emulator, I guess)
  3. Use the following two information from your IPTV Provider, to configure your TV box:
    1. MAC address
    2. Portal Address

And, Play!

My Setup

I am using this Android TV box : https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B07QVD55SZ/

With STB EMU Free version.

But this setup isn’t working too well for me, mainly from UI perspectives. I can’t search for titles, can’t mark them as favorite etc. The hardware of the TV box hasn’t given any issues so far.

My reseller is suggesting this box : https://www.amazon.ca/Built-Cable-Remote-Power-Adapter/dp/B07DXFB2JR

I might try this one soon, along with any other apps, and post the results here.

I have also found other technologies such as Minista (from Infomir), but I haven’t tried them yet.

If you find anything here worth correcting, please leave a comment.

Ciao, till then.

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