FAQ - FTA Satellite General

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What is FTA satellite?
Free to Air (FTA) represents a category of satellite television channels which are not encrypted by the service provider and require no subscription or activation fees. They are provided free of charge by the provider and are perfectly legal to receive with a satellite dish and FTA receiver.

What is C-Band?
C-Band refers to satellite channels broadcasting in the 3.4 Ghz (i.e. 3200) to 4.2 Ghz (i.e. 4200) frequency range. Because of the lower frequencies used, dishes must be at least 6 ft. in diameter in order to receive channels broadcasting on C Band.

What is KU-Band?
KU-Band refers to satellite channels broadcasting in the 10.7 Ghz (i.e. 10700) to 12.75 Ghz (i.e. 12750) frequency range. Because of the higher frequencies used, dishes as small as 30 inches can be used to receive channels broadcasting on KU Band.

What bands are used for FTA satellite?
Free To Air satellite channels are broadcast either on C or KU band, similar to VHF or UHF on terrestrial TV. C band is broadcast in the 3.6 to 4.2GHz frequency range and typically requires at least a 180 cm diameter dish for reliable reception of most channels. However, some high power C Band channels can be received with a dish as small as 120 cm. Ku band is broadcast in the 11.7 to 12.2GHz frequency range. The higher frequency range makes it possible to receive channels using a dish as small as 76cm in diameter.

What is required to receive FTA satellite channels?
To receive FTA satellite channels, you require a satellite dish large enough to receive the desired channel(s) based on the band and power level it is being broadcast at. It is always a good idea to use a dish larger than the minimum size to avoid any issues with certain channels not broadcasting at full power or using DVB-S2 8PSK which requires a stronger signal. You also require a Low Noise Block Feedhorn (LNBF) and a FTA receiver. The LNBF is installed at the focal point of the satellite dish and receives the reflected satellite signal from the dish which is then demodulated by the satellite receiver to be displayed on your television.

How many FTA satellite channels can I receive?
On Ku band, there are currently over 280 channels available with approximately 80 in English. C band currently provides an additional 440 channels with 140 of these in English.

How many satellites can I receive?
On a fixed dish with a single LNBF, you may only receive a single satellite. By upgrading to a Ku Band mono-block LNBF, you may receive 2 satellites spaced 4 degrees apart such as Galaxy 19 at 97W and SES 1 at 101W. You may also install multiple LNBF's using custom brackets to receive satellites within a 30 degree radius.

In order to receive all available satellites, you must motorise your satellite dish. Based on your location, approximately 30 Ku band satellites from 12.5W all the way to 166.0E and 35 C band satellites from 5W all the way to 166.0E can be received on a motorized dish. Please note that not all satellites may be available in certain areas due to location, obstacles or dish physical limitations.


Is it legal to receive FTA satellite channels?
Yes, the reception of FTA satellite channels is legal as these channels are unencrypted and anyone with the appropriate receiving equipment is free to view these channels. Please note that there are no FTA channels available on Echostar (61.5, 77, 110, 119, 129) or Nimiq satellites (72.5, 82, 91) as these satellites are used exclusively by subscription satellite providers.

I heard that FTA satellite systems often go "down" and need to be "reprogrammed". Is this true?
Not at all! FTA is the reception of unencrypted satellite channels and does not go down or need to be reprogrammed due to encryption changes. In the past, satellite pirates were illegally modifying FTA satellite receivers in order to bypass encryption and receive encrypted channels from Dish Network and Bell TV. This is NOT FTA but satellite piracy which has now ceased due to these providers upgrading the encryption used to secure their channels. In order to avoid openly admitting stealing satellite television, many pirates used the FTA term as an euphemism so we must be careful not to confuse FTA with satellite piracy.

I have an old FTA satellite receiver that was used for satellite piracy but is not working anymore. Can I still use this receiver to receive FTA?
You can certainly use any FTA satellite receiver to receive C and/or Ku band satellite as these units were designed to do this. This includes but is not limited to Coolsat, Viewsat, Sonicview, Pansat, CNX Nano, nFusion, Ariza, Fortec Star, Limesat, CaptiveWorks, Dreambox, KBox, i-Link and Satzen. The original factory software might have to be reinstalled on some of these units as software developers often introduced bugs when modifying the unit's firmware for satellite piracy use.

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