IPTV: what is it, advantages and disadvantages, and what are channel lists

IPTV Basics

We are going to explain what IPTV is and what advantages and disadvantages it has compared to OTT streaming content services . It is a method used by some operators to allow you to access their online television package, with extra functions such as live rewinding of programs.

We will also mention the lists of IPTV channels or m3u lists , a whole underworld that has been created around this technology to be able to access some channels through specific applications. Of course, without the quality and functions offered by official services.

What is IPTV

Literally, IPTV stands for Internet Protocol TV, or Internet Protocol Television. a way of transmitting television over the Internet with a different method than that used by conventional streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or HBO, among others. In Spain it is used by some operators such as Movistar to offer you their television channels.

In general, traditional television channels have always broadcast their transmissions in a way that you can receive them with an antenna, a satellite or a cable. But these same channels, both terrestrial and satellite digital ones, also transmit their broadcasts almost simultaneously in direct streaming or on demand, although with different protocols than those we are used to on the web.

What IPTV does is create a private and direct network between the operator that offers you the channels and the user, so that you can receive these channels without connecting to the Internet just by having the router or decoder turned on. The channels are transmitted on demand, and the operator reserves part of your bandwidth for IPTV . Thus, if you have contracted 100 megabytes, the IPTV may have assigned about 30 or 40 and the rest is left for your conventional Internet use.

IPTV operation diagram
IPTV operation diagram

Having a dedicated and specific bandwidth for reception is a method to try to guarantee the highest possible quality in the transmissions, as well as to allow you to receive more television channels. In addition, with this, the operators make sure that to access their channel packages legally you have to contract the service.

The video from the channels is compressed using special software and sent to the IP address of the requesting client. Upon arrival, as a user you will need to have a special decoder to receive the signal, decompress it and decode it in order to see it clearly. Operator receivers often have more functions, such as allowing programs to be recorded or stored locally.

Advantages and disadvantages compared to OTT services

When it comes to talking about television channels, OTT or Over The Top services are what we know as streaming television, those that broadcast their signal openly through the Internet such as Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video or HBO. There are also cases in which an operator like Movistar offers its IPTV service but also an OTT version like Movistar + Lite .

OTT services are not tied to any television or telephone operator. In addition, while OTTs broadcast their signal in the open and anyone can register and access their content, to access IPTV channels it will not be enough to register, and you will need a decoder to receive, decompress and decode the signal.

OTTs do not have a reserved bandwidth. This means that the quality of the reception may depend on the bandwidth you have free , and that if you are using your connection for a task that requires many megabytes, it is possible that the quality of the streaming suffers. This is not a problem for IPTVs, since having the reserved width ensures that you have enough signal to offer the best image quality.

Another advantage of IPTV is in the decoders themselves, which offer you some extra functions not available in OTT services . You can usually record several days of programming, or rewind a program when you are receiving it live because it is a personalized broadcast. You can also often easily buy content like movies that are available before your arrival from streaming services.

As for the disadvantages, it is obvious that depending on an operator who gives you your receiver can be a very clear one. In addition, they are usually services that are much more expensive or included in packs , and having IPTV means that you will not be able to take advantage of all your bandwidth on the Internet, since a percentage is dedicated to the reception of the channels.

Another important disadvantage is that IPTV is served directly to your home, while the other streaming services are accessible from anywhere through their official mobile applications.

What are the lists of IPTV channels

One of the reasons why IPTV is more popular is not because people seek to hire this type of television, but because there are ways to access many of these channels without needing an operator through the so-called “IPTV lists” or “m3u lists. “.

These are lists in which the addresses with which the broadcasts of IPTV channels can be accessed through remote IP addresses are stored. The format that they usually have to reproduce is m3u, in addition to others such as m3u8 or w3u, and hence they are also known as “m3u lists”. There are different programs, including Kodi or VLC , and other more specific ones like Wiseplay .

With these lists, you are not usually able to enter the content that the operators send to their customers, but rather access free IPTV channels , other channels that do not broadcast over the Internet, or even pay lists that allow you to access different channels from your mobile and without a decoder .

However, they are not always a safe method of consuming this type of television. First of all, because there will be times when these lists can be used as a claim to compromise your security, being hosted on pages with various types of malware waiting to be installed on your computer.

Sometimes, they will also be illegal re-transmissions in which an IPTV user is recording and transmitting the signal that reaches him. These transmissions are never guaranteed for quality or durability, and since operators may be on the hunt, they may be cut in half. Hence, in the case of being paid, never have to risk.

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