If one thing is true about today’s market for television broadcasting, it’s that consumers face an overwhelming range of technology and packaged viewing choices. While each type of service provider offers different benefits and associated costs—cable companies and subscription satellite are only the most common solutions—one often-overlooked option is a free-to-air (FTA) satellite system.
FTA satellites function with technology very similar to what is used by major subscription satellite providers, however there is a crucial difference. Whereas subscribing to satellite TV through a dish company entails regular payments in return for a chosen programming package, FTA satellites offer independent, customizable access to a variety of stations made freely available to the public by channels and broadcasters around the world.
To get an FTA satellite system up and running, only a few components are necessary to begin. First, an FTA receiver is required to pick up the unencrypted signals sent from about 20 total satellites positioned around the earth, enabling access to more than 200 channels worldwide.
Secondly, a satellite dish (31″ is the recommended minimum) is necessary to position in range of a given network or set of satellite networks. Finally, a linear KU band LNB (Low-Noise Block Downconverter) is needed to adjust incoming frequencies for optimal viewing, along with a cable to connect the LNB to the receiver.
Depending on the needs and interests of each FTA user, different models of these various components may be better suited to achieve the best results and receive the greatest range of station access. Many providers and products exist to meet these needs, but one very helpful and affordable resource for FTA receivers, dishes, and other equipment is Ocean Satellite.
For those looking to finally wave goodbye to erratic cable bills and unreliable tech service, FTA satellites systems can either be self-installed or set up by experienced professionals for a reasonable, one-time fee. With so many options and packages available to maximize the setup for particular viewing needs, some sources strongly recommend professional installation.
Alternatively, for those who are handier with technology, various guides are available and sufficient to provide step-by-step instructions for installation. As with anything, the most important factor in reaching the right choice for an FTA system is making sure to research which products and satellite networks will provide the access to desired broadcasts.
Today’s FTA systems are categorized as either stationary, providing access to a regionalized set of signals, or motorized, enabling the dish antenna to rotate among the signal ranges of a viewer’s desired network choices. Motorized systems therefore require an additional component known as a Digital Satellite Equipment Control Motor (Diseqc).
For example, while a stationary system installed in the United States may only provide access to satellites within range of its fixed position, a motorized system linking the receiver to the diseqc motor can adjust to pick up quality signals from international stations without any further modification.
For television viewers of varying lifestyles, the prospect of obtaining free satellite TV channels from stations around the world presents an enticing, worthwhile solution. Those living in a foreign country may opt to install an FTA system in place of contracting with a foreign company, thus getting free access to programs based in their own country and language.
For others, watching television may be a leisure activity not worth the cost of a monthly subscription. An FTA satellite system could thus offer a low-cost way to obtain only what a viewer really cares to see. Whatever the case may be, FTA satellites are an underrated but growing solution for many who recognize that many broadcasters provide free programming for those willing to find a legal alternative to subscription-based television.