Tuesday, February 28, 2017

TV woes

Having watched TV via Canal + for most of the years that we lived here, Pam and I decided that we'd like UK TV as an alternative.

Apparently the very best way to get UK TV is via a satellite dish set to receive Freeview. With the right size dish, you can even get HD TV. There is a set up cost but after that it is free of charge.

The thing is that we don't particularly want a giant dish on our roof terrace, we already have a discreet Canal + dish up there and we don't care to have another if we can avoid it.

The alternative we found was IPTV where you receive rebroadcast TV via a set top box and your internet connection. I knew that our connection was fast enough and stable enough to receive streaming video. I even ran a wired connection from my router to the location where the set top box would be located. In theory, IPTV should work well for us.

I researched the possibilities and came to the conclusion that a paid for service would be best.  For well over a year now, we have been able to watch live TV and catch up programmes from a company called BEST IPTV. This is not an Android solution which would essentially be free but a paid for subscription to BEST. We have a MAG 254 box which decodes the information to the TV.

To be honest, it has never been flawless. There were times when the picture stuttered and catch up wasn't always available for some reason or other but mostly it was fine.

That was until about two weeks ago when live TV suddenly stopped working. All we get now is a black screen when we try to go to any of the programmes on the list. I therefore wrote to BEST IPTV to enquire about the issue.

It seems that they have a number of clients, who use Telefonica as an ISP, experiencing the same problem as us and their technical department is supposedly looking into it.

My gut feeling is that Telefonica are blocking the IP address of BEST's live server. The reason they would do this is to reduce the bandwidth that BEST's clients are consuming. Although we have an unlimited connection, Telefonica has a responsibility to all of its clients. They cannot allow one sector to hog the connection. Most ISPs do this when they find clients that take up more than their fair share of the bandwidth.

So, what are the options?

If BEST IPTV cannot resolve the situation we could get our money back and move to a different provider. However, it may only be a matter of time before that company has their service blocked by Telefonica.

We could investigate running our connection via a VPN (virtual private network). For a monthly subscription, you can mask your internet connection by using one of these services. Apart from the security this provides, you can make it look as though you are connected to the internet via another country e.g. the UK. I'm not sure how that would help though if Telefonica are blocking BEST's server.

We could change our ISP to another like Jazztell or Orange or even investigate the fibre optic connection offered by TV Horadada (formerly Bitel). However, as any one who has tried will tell you, releasing yourself from Telefonica can be torturous.

We may end up going back to watching just Canal + which we are still paying for. The picture quality from the satellite is excellent and there are programmes on there that we miss.

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