What is Free-To-Air (FTA)?
BEC, Coship, Vistar, Zinwell, Pansat, DMT, SA, ProSat, and
the list goes on and on!
Where did all of these receivers come from? While the U.S. and Canadian
Cable industry distributes their programming largely via products sold by
Motorola and a few others, the rest of the world chose the MPEG-2 format.
Granted, even though, the Motorola Digicipher II has some MPEG-2 attributes, it
nevertheless remains a totally proprietary platform. Who has chosen MPEG-2
as a platform? Dish Network, Scientific Atlanta, and the rest of the world.
Even DirecTV is a early version of MPEG-2. MPEG-2 is a digital
platform that allows several digital broadcasts to be compressed onto one
frequency or channel. Without MPEG-2, Digicipher, or other compression
platform, it would not be possible to have direct broadcast television services
like DirecTV or Dish Network. Equally important is the way the programmers
get the their product to their retail outlets such as DBS and cable. They
too have chosen compressed digital transmissions largely due to cost. PAX on
GE-1 is an example of this.
What does MPEG2-FTA mean? MPEG stands for
Moving Picture Experts Group. It is a method for compressing data. FTA
stands for "Free to Air"- meaning that the signal is not encrypted
with conditional access. . Smart Cards or Conditional Access
Modules, are generally used to decode scrambled signals.
MPEG-2 is not an encryption method
although encryption can be added. Dish Network uses the Nagra system of
encryption, DirecTV uses a News Data system, and full view big dish
primarily uses the Digicipher system. Transponder time has become so expensive
that with the exception of the preachers, the porno channels, and the home
shopping networks, it doesn't make sense to place only one channel on one
frequency. With HBO, and Discovery Networks planning 25 channels each, it
would take over two C-Band birds to air their material the old fashioned analog
WHAT CAN BE SEEN ON MPEG2-FTA?
FTA or "Free To
Air" simply means that the signal is not encrypted. Most cable type
programming is encrypted. Occasionally programmers may turn the scrambler
machine off and you can see a channel or two with an MPEG-2fta receiver.
You will never see Time Warner cable programming, i.e. CNN, HBO in fta mode in
the U.S.. CNN, and other international news channels, are available to
viewers around the world in free to air mode, but not to the U.S..
In the U.S. there are a number of
channels that are available via MPEG-2 FTA receivers that have indicated that
they plan to remain in the clear or are believed to intending to stay clear.
These include Saudi TV, Abu Dhabi, Thai TV, Kuwait TV, Syria TV, Taiwan,
Iran, and as we go to press, Bloomberg TV all on Telstar 5, ku, which can be
received on a .7 meter dish. The list changes now and then but these and more
can be seen today.
GE-1 is the home of a bouquet of channels from
Paxton Communication's PAX TV. PanAmSat 9 at 58 degrees west is home to
the RTP, EWTN, CCTV China, NHK, Deutche Wella, an Arab bouquet in
PAL, and a channel from Colombia. Some of the channels from the
middle east have scrambled but their feeds to Australia remain in the clear.
These feeds use the PAL format but a receiver like the BEC will convert
the picture to NTSC, the North American format. MPEG2 FTA feeds are
numerous and more and more are being added every day. The economics of
compression, allowing more than one service on each frequency dictate that we
will see more. Every time another satellite fails, and they are failing,
we see the prices of transponder time go up. A couple of thousand dollars
an hour for a better bird are not unusual for part time use.
WHERE DO YOU FIND LISTINGS OF WHAT IS
The answer is simple, you find it on the Internet.
There are two sites that are very good. Every day Christian Lyngemark spends a
few hours updating information from every broadcast satellite in the world
from his office in Sweden. His site is supported by advertisers. He relies
on information from the programmers and satellite owners plus an army of
volunteer spotters located around the world. His lists aren't always up to
date or totally accurate, especially since many of the services go to great
lengths to hide their feeds, but he is a very good detective. Christian's
site is <http://www.lyngsat.com> lists everything from HBO to Solo
Tango. A competing site is <http://www.satcodx.com> with
WHAT IF YOU ARE NOT ON THE INTERNET?
Today, unless you live in an area with no
phone access, there is no excuse for not being on the Internet. Even the
DirecPC is available through DirecTV. Starband is available from Dish
Network, and Pegasus Express is available from Pegasus that use satellite rather
then phone or cable lines. Most people still use the slower dialup
services because of their lower cost.
THE SECRETS OF PROGRAMMING AN MPEG-2 FTA RECEIVER
Most receivers come programmed with just a few
channels or a couple of satellites. Since most receivers are made for the
Asian markets it is not unusual to see satellites such as AsiaSat programmed
into memory. Fortunately, all receivers come with the ability to delete
programming. Taylor Enterprises is now able to program their receivers
with most of the stations viewable in North America making them "plug and
play". This is a special service they offer for their customers only.
With most MPEG2-FTA receivers, programming is done via the remote control.
Fortunately, once the information is entered, the information is stored into the
Originally the receivers required users to calculate
L-band frequency, PID, FEC and to manually enter this information into the
receiver. Today much of this is automatically calculated by most receivers.
Most receivers require only two items be entered, the frequency, and the symbol
For an example I am going to
program a bouquet on T5-ku to illustrate how most MPEG-2 FTA receivers work. I
have gone to <http://www.lyngsat.com> on the Internet. There I
selected Telstar 5. I have scrolled to a group, we call them a
bouquet, of SaudiTV, Palestinian, Dubai, Jordan, and other channels
plus some radio stations. All of these channels are compressed onto one
transponder. I know that I can receive this bouquet because column five
indicates that the signal is MPEG-2 and no scrambling system is noted. No
mention is made if Digicipher, Viaccess or IRDETO or other scrambling
methods. PowerVu is a Scientific Atlanta system and can sometimes be received
with MPEG-2 FTA receivers. At the bottom of the page I see that all MPEG-2
non scrambled listings are highlighted in a light yellow color.
The last column tells the direction that the satellite sends the signal, i.e.
Conus is Continental U.S., West is Western Hemisphere, East is Europe and
so on. You usually wont see a "East" beam in the USA, although I
have had some soccer fans claim they have seen some East beam transmissions
with the right combination of antenna and beverage.
Typically most receivers program starting with the
downlink frequency. Looking at the Lyngsat chart we see that is 11898 Mhz
and this frequency is programmed into the first line in our example. This
is simply the downlink frequency of the transponder . A few receivers like
the Vistar require that the frequency be entered as 11898000. The next item that
is typically required to be entered is the LNB L.O. freq. This is the
local oscillator frequency of the LNB, which is located out at the antenna, that
allows the received signal to be converted into a usable signal within the
receiver. Domestic U.S. C-Band L.O. frequency is 5150 and Ku band is 10750. In
our case T5 is ku so 10750 is entered. The latest receiver enter L.O. freq
under a satellite setup and may note it elsewhere on the setup page. The
receiver uses these two frequencies to calculate the L-band frequency that all
receivers use to tune the channel. The next figure entered is the Symbol
Rate. This is the rate the size of the digital package transmission, akin
to a modem bit rate. This figure can be anywhere from less than 5000
to over 40,000. This figure is entered but be sure that you get the
numbers in the right place. You may have to begin the entry with a 0 to
make it work right, i.e. 6000 may have to be entered as 06000. In the case
of our T5 example we can see from the forth column that the SR is 20000.
The 3/4 is the FEC and is automatically calculated by most receivers. To
see how a specific receiver is programmed, such as the BEC, take a look at my
web page at <http://www.mpeg2fta.com>.
The PID rate, package identifier, and the FEC,
Forward Error Correction, which corrects bit errors, are automatically
calculated by most receivers. Some receivers also allow for manual PID
entry allowing some signals with incomplete data stream information to be
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controls for the various receivers we
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Access Module (CAM) cards / PCMCIA for
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We carry different types of satellite
receivers. All of our satellite receivers include
remote control, users manual and 2 AAA batteries.
Our Free To Air (FTA)
satellite receivers are designed to work with any
satellite, C or Ku and come pre-programmed with all the
Galaxy 25 Ku.
Common Interface (CI) receivers
are designed to accept any type of
/ CAM Module. The
receivers come with a
CI receivers are
DiSEqC 1.2 Compatible
and can operate a DiSEqC 1.2
HH motor mounts.
We carry C and
Ku band LNBF's.
In order to pick up Ku band, you must have a
linear Ku LNB that is
installed on a
dish with a minimum of
30" in diameter (75cm)
or larger. We carry
Circular Ku LNB's.
We also carry both
Standard Ku and
Universal Ku LNBF's.
We also carry
C band LNB's. C band LNB's must be installed
on a dish that is at least 1.8m (6') or larger.
Our New CKU LNBF is designed to pick up both C and Ku
band signals and pass it to the receiver using a single
coaxial cable. Check out our
Universal CKU LNBF and our
4DTV Standard CKU LNBF.
motor is designed to
use DiSEqC 1.2 or USALS commands from your FTA satellite
receiver to move. It consumes the same 13/18V
power used by the LNB to power the motor so it's not
necessary to run additional wires to power the motor.
The motor accounts for the Azimuth, Elevation, and
polarization of your satellite dish. If you want
to be guaranteed superior signal, purchase the motor
90cm dish antenna.
Our motorized Ku
band satellite dish kits include a DiSEqC1.2 HH motor
mount, along with an offset satellite dish, digital Ku
band LNBF, and much more. Go to this section if
you want to get the most out of your FTA satellite
We carry 18" (45cm) DirecTV dishes,
30" (75cm) dishes,
36" (90cm) dishes,
1.2m/120cm dishes, and
1.8m/180cm dishes. All of our
dishes, except our
dish have a 40mm
holder and works with all the linear LNB's we sell.
Our special LNB bracket works with any dish on the
market and can be chained to each other to pick up
signals from multiple satellites.
We carry a vast
variety of equipment to help you with the installation
of your satellite system. We carry the
SF-95 signal finder,
self installation kit,
clinometer combo, water seals, professional signal
meters and more...
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multiple satellite package and more. Go to this
section for great prices and unique packages. If
you have satellite receiver, put it to use.
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4x1 DiSEqC switches,
DiSEqC switches with weather covers, multi-switches,
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