Freesat Website

Posted on 27 November 2007 in BBC red button, Interactive TV, Television (30 comments)

Well the secret is out. Well right now as I type, it's not hugely out because the website hasn't been out for very long. But anyway, the Freesat website is now live, so you can find out all about it, and why you'd want it. Or not want it. Or something.

And if you dig deep into the FAQs, you can spot what the BBCi Freesat team (of which I'm part of) are busy doing right now:

The BBC will offer a wide range of red button services on freesat. From launch you'll be able to read the latest news and sport stories 24 hours a day, check out what's happening in the world of business, enjoy entertainment news and quickly access the official lottery results.

From Summer of 2008, you will be able to get a wide range of news in video at any time you want it, with weather information for where you live. During the Beijing Olympics, you'll be able to choose between coverage of different sports and highlights to get the whole BBC Olympics package.

Coming later will be enhanced coverage of many other sporting and music events, children's games, plus all of the interactive content you have come to expect from your BBC digital TV channels.

Freesat FAQ (27 November 2007)

I suspect most people will be more interested in what channels you can get - well afraid that's so far under wraps. And no, I don't know either.

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Alan Pope said:

You might want to check the spelling of Michael Palin at http://freesat.co.uk/whats_on.php in the big image at the top.

Posted on 27 November 2007 at 6:49 PM

Andrew Bowden said:

Ah well, nowt to do with me guv!

Posted on 27 November 2007 at 11:47 PM

William T said:

Are you going to be able to do anything incredibly clever with the firmware of the boxes - eg store much of the BBCi code so applications load faster?

For otherwise, I'm a bit puzzled why the BBC's Freesat channels are going to be uplinked separately to those already on Sky (or so I hear elsewhere - unless that was just referring to the EPG listings.)

Posted on 30 November 2007 at 10:24 PM

Andrew Bowden said:

I've been meaning to do a piece about some of the technical side for Freesat - just haven't got round to it yet. Hopefully next week...

But for now - the boxes should be able to cache the service in their memory, like Freeview boxes do (and like Sky boxes don't - one reason why text services on Freeview are faster than their Sky counterparts). How it all works out we don't know yet, as we don't actually have any proper boxes to try our code out on.

As for the channels themselves - it's just a separate EPG, and the video will just be shared between the two. No point in duplicating if you don't have to!

Posted on 1 December 2007 at 2:14 PM

Rover said:

When will the first getails of channel line up be available.
I am about to get a new tv (HD I suppose) currently only have freeview, don't like the Sky franchise, so what do I need/ who do I buy from to get freesat?

Posted on 4 December 2007 at 12:25 PM

Andrew Bowden said:

Best bet is to check the Freesat website - they'll post it up when it's all known.

Posted on 4 December 2007 at 2:06 PM

Ian Pull said:

Re BBC Freesat : what is the best way to have two TVs showing different channels via the same satellite dish: splitter between dish and receivers OR an LNB with two outputs ?
Or can you refer me to a reliable, independent source for an answer ?

Posted on 5 January 2008 at 3:38 PM

Andrew Bowden said:

Bit too technical for me - about the only thing I could recommend is consulting your local independent satellite or aerial installer. There's bound to be one nearby - they'll know what the best option is.

Posted on 5 January 2008 at 3:53 PM

David Hayzen said:

You mention Summer 2008 for the red button services to be available... also that at the launch of FreeSat red button services will be available... this implies that the launch for FreeSat has moved from Spring 2008 to Summer 2008 - is this the case ?

I'm eager to get the new services (have already put my dish up) but am awaiting launch and PVR box news to be available.

Posted on 8 February 2008 at 12:24 PM

Andrew Bowden said:

Well the official launch date hasn't been announced yet, but Spring 2008 is what's on the website. The summer dates refer just to interactive services in that some functionality will be there for launch, and some won't be - they'll come online later.

Posted on 8 February 2008 at 2:08 PM

Nick Hepher said:

IS it correct that I will be able to use an existing Sky dish? Also will I be able to run a Sky box and a Freesat box at the same to get Channel 4 in the interim before their contract with Sky runs out and they (hopefully) decamp to Freesat?

Finally, Do we know anything about manufacturers of the boxes? when they will be releasing etc...? I trust its not going to be an 'X-Box/PSP' syndrome where a frenzied demand is whipped up by the media only for us to find the hardware is like hen's teeth to obtain and ultimately only available from ebay for zillions of pounds!

There is an urgency about this.. I currently have to pay Mr Murdoch £10/month to use his PVR on SkyFreesat and I don't want to be lining his coffers for one second longer than necessary!

Posted on 10 February 2008 at 5:40 PM

Andrew Bowden said:

It will certainly run if you plug a Freesat box into a Sky dish - there's nothing particularly special about the dishes that Sky install. They're just satellite dishes, so that will work fine.

As for splitting the signal between two boxes, well if you're just moving the input cable from one box to another, that's fine. Trying to split it and running box boxes at the same time is not a good idea I believe (unless you're satellite dish is set up to allow that - if it's got a dual LNB you'll be fine. Just don't ask me how you know you've got a dual LNB!)

Initial manufacturers have been announced in the form of Humax, Panasonic, Sagem and Alba. The specifics of what they'll supply hasn't been announced though. And as for availability... well that's for them to know and the rest of us to find out!

Posted on 10 February 2008 at 6:41 PM

David Bell said:

Best plan for using two receiver boxes off same dish is to use a dual LNB, these are now commonly available. Doing this is only possible if the two satellte signals are from sources at the same location (azimuth and elevetion degrees). Using a satellite signal splitter will not work as only one bax can control the frequency band and polarisation of the single LNB for both, eliminating around 3/4 of the chanels from the box that does not have LNB control.

If Freesat satellite is on co-location with Sky then there should be no problems running both, but I would advise a dual LNB be fitted. Quad LNBs are available to thosse who allready use two outputs. A good LNB has a noise figure of 0.3dB these days, the lower this figure the better the signal to noise ratio of the received signals. Although a minidish can be used, my plan is to use a 60cm dish which will give me better performance in stormy weather.

A tad technical, but not rocket science!

I eagerly await Freesat and hope to ditch Sky at some point soon. I just hope there is a decent HDMI PMR in the mix of boxes available for Freesat. Say HDMI 1.3, 500G HDD, twin receivers, DVD recorder. Wishlist + Blue Ray playback and record.

Posted on 4 March 2008 at 3:49 PM

Chris Jones said:

I don't subsribe to Sky or have a SkyBox, but I do watch the unscrambled BBC/ITV channels via Astra using another satellite receiver (an old Nokia Mediamaster).
I do get a limited EPG
Does anyone know what the new digital box will do and will I have to have one to watch this new feed
I understand that an unscrambled Channel 4 is under test at the moment, does anyone know the frequency this is on ?

Posted on 22 April 2008 at 10:23 AM

Andrew Bowden said:

The video is the same video that's used for Sky boxes, and your current satellite receiver, so you don't need a new box to get the TV channels - however you won't get the Freesat EPG or interactive services.

As for Channel 4, you can find details on Digital Spy - their forums are usually not too bad for such questions too.

Posted on 22 April 2008 at 2:47 PM

Chris Jones said:

Will these Freesat boxes retrict me to simply the Freesat channels or can they be tuned like a "normal" (i.e. Non-Sky), sat receiver to view other FTA channels

Posted on 14 May 2008 at 10:33 AM

Andrew Bowden said:

The Humax has a setting so you can change to "non-Freesat" mode. You lose the EPG and interactive services but you can get anything that's free to air. I'm not sure about other boxes.

Posted on 14 May 2008 at 10:44 AM

Paul Johns said:

What's the best way to have four screens in different rooms working off the same dish so that they can all screen freesat independantly from each other (so that you can watch different channels on them at the same time with the signal coming from the same dish)?

Posted on 3 June 2008 at 1:10 AM

Chris Jones said:

Since the Freesat change over I note the following :-

1/ BBC News 24 seems to be unavailable
2/ I can stiil only get Channel 4 as "8350" but the channels called "Channel 4" still seem to scrambled ?

Posted on 3 June 2008 at 9:57 AM

Nick Hepher said:

Does anyone know when (or if) Channel 5 will join Freesat?

I currently am chained to Sky+ at £10/month because of my wife and daughters all being obsessed with 'Neighbours'! It would be good to know if I can ever break this chain!

Personally, not being able to watch 'Neighbours' seems an excellent idea for moving to Freesat but I am in a minority here!

Posted on 4 June 2008 at 7:47 PM

Andrew Bowden said:

Paul - best bet would be to invest in a new quad LNB for your satellite dish. This enables you to run four different set top boxes off one dish. If this means nothing to you, don't worry! Any good satellite installer will know what needs to be done.

Chris - on the (now) BBC News Channel, I'd recommend looking at the BBC Reception website as there's a few people who have had the same problem. On Channel 4, I'm afraid I don't know much about that. Maybe someone else reading will.

And Nick - on Five on Freesat, that I don't know. However you don't need a Sky subscription to receive Five on a Sky box. If you stopped subscribing tomorrow, your existing equipment would continue to receive Five. I'm not sure about Fiver or Five US however.

Posted on 4 June 2008 at 10:33 PM

ali said:

can i connect a freesat set top box to my sky sat dish and pick up the free hd channels without moving my dish

Posted on 10 June 2008 at 9:40 AM

Andrew Bowden said:

Ali - yes you can. There's more info on the Freesat website

Posted on 10 June 2008 at 10:05 AM

John said:

channel 4 on "8350" is transmitted on
10728 V, sr 22000, fec 5/6

Posted on 26 June 2008 at 8:48 AM

John said:

I have a Goodmans SD box and am of the opinion that Freesat is 'not fit for purpose'.

I live in the West and am forced to receive BBC1 London and ITV1 Central although my postcode should have solved this problem.

Next the non freesat channel list is an unorganised jumble of channels which cannot be sorted by programme content, news entertainment etc.

Channels on the Freesat transponders eg ITV2, ITV3, ITV2+1, ITV3+1 have to be scanned twice, because ITV1 and ITV2 are placed on the Freesat programme list automatically on set up , but if you wish to have ITV2+1 and ITV3+1 these have to be manually set up as non-freesat channels and are placed on the non-freesat channel listings.

My final gripe is there is no installation information on the BBC or Alba Group websites giving magnetic azimuth bearings for dish direction, elevation and LNB offset angle.
For anyone wanting transponder data for non-freesat channels visit www.lyngsat.com and search for Eurobird1,2A,2B,2D at28.2East listings or www.flysat.com.

My advice to anyone thinking of buying a Freesat box is, delay until the shambles is sorted out or invest in an inexpensive Free To Air receiver.

Posted on 15 July 2008 at 8:47 AM

Richard said:

I have had a Humax Foxsat-HD box for about a month now. As John said, ITV2+1, ITV3+1 etc have to go onto the non-free-sat listings but the channels are easily movable into groups of your choice. Having played with the system for a little while now, I find the program guide far better then Skys (who I was with for 20 years). The search engine is without fault and the now and next banner is a dream to use; whilst scanning to any channel and time of the day while still watching a program the information about that program becomes available, Skys will only give info on the current visible program despite the position of the banner.
The quality of the picture in non-HD is very clear as it is up-scaled slightly so the picture is sharper then some other platforms. However what makes the system outdo sky is free HD on BBC and ITV and other channels are to follow also the optical output for 5.1 sound on HD channels makes a real difference
The only real problem I find is that new channels keep appearing so I have to keep rearranging my viewing schedule.

Posted on 6 September 2008 at 10:17 AM

Chris Jones said:

Any news on Channel 5 yet ?
Does anyone have experience of the Technomate 6800HD ?

Posted on 7 October 2008 at 4:15 PM

Ken Phillips said:

I just thought I'd use this site to have a moan about Freesat. I haven't been able to watch tv for a week apparently because Freesat have caused a big ball's up somewhere. No adverts. No phone calls.Nothing to explain what the hell is going on. Ive been told I'm not the only one after numerous phone calls I made myself. Is there actually no one left with balls enough to explain to customers what the F*** is going on.

Posted on 18 October 2009 at 8:56 PM

Andrew Bowden said:

I suspect you have a Goodmans, Grundig or Bush set top box - they're made by the same people (Harvard) and it appears Harvard broadcast a software update that doesn't work properly... Rumour is there's going to be another update very soon to fix it.

Posted on 19 October 2009 at 9:56 AM

Rosie Too said:

We have a problem... please advise... we live in a house where we arenot supposed to put up tv aerials. This said most of us have had sky installed at some time. The old wired aerials system is not working therefore we wish to have freesat rather than continuing paying to sky. Can we use the sky dish to plug in freesat or will we have to have a freesat aerial installed?

Posted on 6 January 2010 at 12:52 PM

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