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IPTV. How it works and the Skinny!

October 18th, 2017

UPDATE May 1, 2018

Two things have changed!  I have just ordered a new Set Top Box (STB), the T2. an upgrade from the T1,  Details will follow!

I also am using a new IPTV service:   https://bit.ly/2KClYp9

Now back to our show!

Some of my readers will immediately understand the letters IPTV.  Others not or maybe sort-of but want the details. (the Skinny).  Still others have no idea but will read this post because they know that when I post, it’s generally valuable info (he said humbly, lol)!

This is going to be a bit more complex post and contains technical stuff so I will try to keep it simple for all readers.

First of course is what is IPTV?  It stands for Internet Protocol Television.

Yeah ok… so what is that? When you watch TV, you must be connected to a source.  Most common sources are streamed ( via cable modem, DSL with modem, etc), Satellite, or even antennas (anyone remember those??).  Wherever you live… IPTV might be a great option, especially in Costa Rica.

OK… decision time.  Interested? read on…

There are three kinds of IPTV. Now it is quite possible that you are already using IPTV though you may not know it as such.

The first kind is  video on demand (VOD). Examples? With Netflix, MLB.TV , etc. everything is streamed. These are dedicated connections and there are few interruptions unless your Internet connection goes down.

The second kind of IPTV is rare at this time but the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) offers a web-based streaming video player called the  iPlayer that allows you to see last week’s programs. This is called time-shifted IPTV, because you’re watching ordinary, scheduled broadcasts at a time that’s convenient for you. I use this to see something that I missed.

The third kind of IPTV is the broadcasting of live TV over the Internet, and it is this type that I will cover in this post.

What do you need to get started?

  1. A TV? Nope!  The service supplier I use allows me use my web browser so I can use the service just about anywhere.   Now saying that,  because almost all IPTV programming is streamed (sent to you) in hi-definition,  a nice big screen is pretty cool!
  2. A set top box also known as an STB. There are many STBs but I chose the Dreamlink T1 Plus (photo below) for a lot of techy reasons but maybe most important because it allows recording of whatever I am watching to a mini SD card (like in your cell phone added memory) or to any connected USB device and it offers an excellent Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) that becomes really important when you now have 1000 to 3,500 channels to chose from and finally because it works well over WIFI. Not all STBs offer WIFI. Some require a direct Ethernet connection from your modem.  I prefer the WIFI.  Cables bug me.  Whatever STP you select, look for a good EPG!



3. A decent, stable Internet connection.  Mine is a 12 MB connection via CableTica and my WIFI in home has the same speed. Necessary? Many say no and that a 4-6 MB connect is fine.  If it isn’t, be prepared to upgrade.

Is an STP required.  Nope… but I can assure you that a good STB like the DreamLink T1 Plus  or the MAG 254 box makes your life a lot easier. These two STBs are by far the most popular with a ton of online support.

4. Optional but important is a good IPTV service provider who provides anywhere from several hundred to several thousand channels to the STB.  I chose this service after a lot of looking. I am generally happy after the first two months. It also has the added benefit that I can use my computer browser! This was and is a big deal though I prefer the big screen!

Dreamlink allows you to have up to five service providers and I added a second service provider last week.  No recommendation yet but maybe after more experience I will provide the link. I generally test them for a month.  Not costly at all.

All service providers give you Video on Demand or VOD. Mine gives me a lot of current movies and TV shows.



Pretty easy.  Below are 2 links providing step by step instructions for the Dreamlink.  There are the same helpful instructions for the MAG 254 or any other set top box.


If you prefer the MAG 254 box, look for setup instructions on Google.


I also use ROKU, a streaming service that allows me to add Netflix, MLB.TV and many other services. It even allowed me to add my IPTV service provider but it worked badly and required a password every time I used it.  A pain! I quickly determined that I needed an STB and I was right. No logins required. ROKU is excellent for many other uses like MLB but was lousy for IPTV.  Netflix offers Spanish subtitles for all TV shows and Movies, and I need that so my wife can watch with me.

So can I see everything for free?

Maybe not everything, but a LOT.  I can watch all NFL games in Hi-Def and MLB, NBA, NHL etc, but for baseball. For baseball, actually prefer the MLB.TV or AT.BAT apps because they offer incredible services for very little $.

Boxing is free, but not my thing. Most of my favorites include the US networks, NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox etc.  Also every other US channel.  I also watch a LOT of UK channels (COPS is a blast from the UK.  No guns and polite police! Generally). I am a Cricket fan and all major matches are live. I get a TON of channels I cannot get here in CR even with the my digital cable service (max stations). Channels like ION, OXYGEN, HALLMARK, SPIKE, SONY, FUSION, the REAL A&E, plus numerous others.  I get every ESPN channel known to man. Are you a soccer nut? NIRVANA! If you are into soccer, you get all SKY and BT sports so you miss nothing from justa bout ant team in the world. I also get direct connect to all the UK dedicated club channels. Of course all the movie channels are there… more than you will ever use.


So can You really “cut the cable”?

Probably not. In any case., do not even start with IPTV if that is your intention unless you have some patience.  This programming comes in over your Internet connection and I do get re-loading messages that are annoying. Sometimes it is my Internet connection, but far more often it is the original channel service provider. If it persists, just open a support ticket with your IPTV service provider.


This is not a bank breaking thing. The STB is a one time purchase and the IPTV services run from $7.00 to $15.00 per month and can be cancelled any time.

I still plan to keep my CableTica cable service.

Dreamlink’s market place also offers totally free IPTV apps.  I have tried 2-3 of them and for me, they are pretty useless.  But free is free right?

You can also use generally free connection apps like KODI, but this requires a lot of work.  See:  https://goo.gl/W56mNL but probably not for those fearful of tech work!

I will be happy to receive your comments and questions!


14 Responses to “IPTV. How it works and the Skinny!”

  1. Ted Dowdell on October 18, 2017 2:00 pm

    Great topic. A couple comments on IPTV from my 2 years experience to add to your comments Tim:
    – free tv is readily available especially for use on Kodi. But, customer service is limited and the services are generally unreliable.
    – there is an android apk called Mobdro that is free and very reliable for use on android cell phones and tablets.
    – when looking for a paid IPTV provider, a good provider will provide the following services
    . a tv guide known as an electronic program guide (epg)
    . an app that can be used in kodi
    . an apk that can be used in android or window devises
    . a m3u list of channels that can be used from within kodi to produce a epg guide with one click channel activation. This same list can be used outside of kodi to view channels and an epg guide on android devises using an apk called Perfect Player or one called GSE Iptv. The list can be used in a computer using the GSE Iptv program. The list can be used to view channels in some Smart TV’s such as Samsung using a program called Smart IPTV.
    . provide fairly reliable service including generally buffer free service
    . many providers provide very good customer service including google group membership, chat rooms, web pages, utube videos.

    Although the subject of IPTV is large there are many resources available to learn the ins and outs, so don’ t be shy in trying to tackle the subject matter if you have an interest in viewing 1000’s of tv channels not available in Costa Rica.

  2. Tim on October 18, 2017 5:10 pm

    A most excellent comment Ted. Thank you! Of course I wrote this for folks with little or no IPTV experience so those who choose to take it to the next step will certainly appreciate your comment.

  3. Alfredo on April 29, 2018 9:47 am

    I currently moved to Costa Rica and am not interested in every station on the planet just english, U.S., Canadian, movies, sports, and T.V. Stations. I currently own a Mag Box 254 and have no idea what provider to use that will give me what I am looking for and most important GLICH FREE. Can you please help fine a provider so that I can get started watching the english shows that I like. Thank and a great post.

  4. Tim on April 30, 2018 7:59 am

    I can recommend two, but ALL carry about a zillion channels so just use the favorites to segregate what you want:

    https://www.pbtvsupport.com/ ASK for VADER


    https://www.thecableguytv.com/ Site down temporarily.

  5. Tim on April 30, 2018 2:53 pm

    https://www.thecableguytv.com Is now up and I use them a lot.

  6. Tim on April 30, 2018 2:57 pm

    Just an important FYI. Internet TV requires a strong Internet connection and obviously service to many parts of the world. I have never found any Internet service that is 100% glitch free. The two services I recommended are pretty good but at times both have service interruptions if you cannot deal with that then really you should just get cable and live with the lousy service and poor selection of channels. Tim

  7. Ted Dowdell on May 1, 2018 8:38 am

    Alfredo, I’m confident that you will never be able to find an iptv service which is glitch free. At least, that has been my experience. So, I recommend that you get several for best results. There are several providers that provide fairly reliable free service using apks. Try Mobdro, Uktvnow, and USTV. As far as paid services go, the one that Tim recommended has a good track record. For lower priced services, I recommend Over The Top Tv (OTTTV) at about $8.00/mo and Eternal TV at $5.00/mo. Both are monthly services so you can pull out at any time.

  8. Mika on June 3, 2018 9:27 pm

    This is exactly what I was looking for! So, I am a cricket fan too. I have been hoping to find a way I can stream live cricket to my TV. Willow TV responded to me saying they do not have a geographical coverage over CR. I knew Iptv might work but did not know until now that someone had been using it successfully and that too for cricket. Is there a way I can get in touch with you by phone or by email for advice? Thanks a ton.

  9. Tim on June 4, 2018 6:53 am

    Whatever service you use, SKY (not the satellite provider) offers matches from all over the world available in hi or standard def. Willow is available but pretty much is limited to re-runs. Let me know if I can be of assistance.

  10. Federico on June 11, 2018 12:53 pm

    What a great information, by any chance any of this services have national channels? Like 6 and 7 ? mention this because i use a lot of IPTV so i made the decision to remove Cable TV and just keep 100MB of connection i use my FireTV Stick on each TV with the STB Mag254 Emulator and works like a charm, i use iptvsubs however doesnt have local channels, and some time you need to watch Telenoticias:D

  11. Tim on June 11, 2018 3:24 pm

    sadly no. My wife loves her novelas so I cannot cut the cord.

  12. Ted Dowdell on June 11, 2018 3:31 pm

    Have been at this for a couple years now and I have yet to find any IPTV service provider that offers any CR channels. However, 6 and 7 they should be available over the air via antenna.

  13. Don House on November 21, 2018 7:07 am

    We are moving to Costa Rica and apparently the rental condo we will live in has Cabletica as provider. I would like to be able to get English speaking channels. Have heard that IPTV provides these. My question if the condo is using Cabletica can I still get IPTV????

  14. Tim on November 21, 2018 7:19 am

    No. If your speed is at least 4MB, preferably faster, you would need to buy an IPTV box, like a Dreamlink2 or Mag. Then it needs to be configured and you will need an IPTV provider. Vader maybe via subscription.

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