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What is Free to Air?

Free-to-Air (FTA) is exactly what the name implies. Free-to-Air systems do not require package programming; the channels are free to view and there are no monthly programming charges. Free-to-air channels can be broadcast in either analog or digital signals. Currently there are hundreds of freely available channels many of which are international language channels; many others are special interests channels broadcast in English.

The Dish Guy mainly focuses on selling digital systems. All the systems that we offer are DVB (Digital Video Broadcast) compliant. MPEG-II compression is used to transfer the signals from the satellite down to your receiver.

KU Band and C-Band. What is it all about?

Free-to-air satellite signals come in two types; Ku-Band (small dish), and C-Band (large dish). Many of the international channels available in North America are broadcast in Ku on the Telstar 5 satellite. But others are available.

Ku-Band systems consist of a satellite receiver and a remote control as well as a dish that only points to one satellite. If you find that you need to look at more than one KU-band satellite you may want to purchase a rotor system which moves the dish to point at many satellites.

If you find yourself wanting to watch a channel broadcast on a C-Band satellite (six foot dish) you will have to stay tuned as we currently do not support C-Band satellite equipment.

Making the right choice

Choosing a satellite system can be a very difficult choice, especially with the large range of products that exist in the market.

A consumer essentially has three choices:
  1. Buy a DirecTV, Dishnetwork, StarChoice, or Bell XpressVu satellite system with subscription. In this scenario you pay for the hardware as well as a regular monthly payment on top of any pay-per-view channels you may wish to view. The subscriber is obliged to sign a contract for a minimum period of time.


  2. Purchase Cable from the local provider or just get an outside antenna and try to receive the local channels as clearly as you can. Incidentally, Cable works best when using it to connect a satellite dish with a satellite receiver.


  3. Free-to-air as the name implies is free. There are no ECMs to worry about and all programming is free. No contract is required and owners are able to view all the free-to-air channels that can be received without limitations. You can also view programming from various countries and if you are lucky you may actually get to view programming from your own home country if you happen to have been born outside of North America. You are not obliged to sign up to a contract.
Overall the free-to-air systems are better, especially if you enjoy watching programming in other languages. You can rotate your dish to the satellite you want and watch as many free-to-air channels as you are able to receive.

Free-to-air TV is clearly the choice if you are interested in multilingual broadcasts. For example, if you like to watch Greek broadcasts you have at least 3 channels to choose from; many of which are actually also broadcast over Echostar for a subscription. If you like to watch broadcasts in Italian there are over 5 Italian channels available. If you like to watch broadcasts in Spanish there are well over 49 accessible in North America from various countries in the world. There are over 30 broadcasts in Arabic, and the list goes on.

Free-to-air television is an excellent hobby that will keep you busy with endless hours of entertainment without monthly subscription payments.
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