SATELLITE DISH OR TV AERIAL WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Put simply and getting straight to the point, not much. Back in 2006 the BBC & ITV got together to launch a new free-to view TV broadcast platform- FREESAT. The reason for this new joint venture by the BBC & ITV was to ensure during the Digital switchover which started in Cumbria in November 2007 and was to reach all UK regions by 2012, that these regions and villages should be able to receive a reliable Digital TV signal. Cumbria was chosen first for a few reasons; firstly, the terrain of this county made it ideal to test out this brand new Digital Terrestrial Service-FREEVIEW given its many hills and mountains which make reliable land-based transmission a challenge to say the least. Also the population of Cumbria was less than many of the other counties.
So, Cumbria would help the regulator get a feel for how reliable the new Digital Service- FREEVIEW would be, compared to the old analogue system. Also, because Digital TV Broadcasts are wideband (meaning more information could be sent over the airways) that meant more TV channels would be available on this new platform compared with Analogue.
Due to the fact some people who were living in Hilly areas or say in a valley for example would not be able to receive reliable Terrestrial transmission it was decided early on that a similar free-to-view Digital TV Service via Satellite would be rolled out in tandem with FREEVIEW- namely FREESAT. Satellite signals are received not from land-based transmitters, but Satellites just above the earth’s atmosphere- pretty amazing right!
The great thing about Digital Satellite TV reception is it has a much greater coverage area. Currently FREEVIEW is accessible by about 75% of the UK population, not bad right? However, FREESAT is accessible by around 95% of the UK population, meaning that if you live in a poor Terrestrial reception area, chances are you should be able to get FREESAT.
WHAT CHANNELS DO YOU GET ON FREESAT?
Simply put, more or less the exact same channels you would get on FREEVIEW bar a few differences. There are right now as I write this article 170 TV channels available on FREESAT- please see- https://www.freesat.co.uk/channels, most of the channels are the same as you will find on FREEVIEW, which currently has about 115 channels, please see: https://www.freeview.co.uk/corporate/platform-management/channel-listings .
Now at first glance it seems that you get a few more channels on FREESAT than on FREEVIEW, and yes there are a handful of channels available on FREESAT not currently on FREEVIEW but the gap in narrowing as the Broadcast Regulators free up more bandwidth for the Terrestrial platform, remember these have to compete with Mobile Phone companies for Bandwidth, whereas Satellite Broadcasters do not, being Satellite signals transmit at a much higher frequency. The best advice is to visit the websites linked in the paragraph above to see exactly what’s on each platform. Just don’t rush out and get FREESAT thinking you’ll get FREE access to SPORTS channels because you won’t, or loads of FREE Movie channels because while, yes, there maybe one or two extra movie channels on it, again these are not Premium Movie channels.
WHAT SHOULD I CHOOSE?
Generally speaking, FREEVIEW will be the logical and best choice for most people and here’s why:
- Firstly, the initial installation cost for the equipment needed to receive FREESAT will generally cost more than a Digital TV Aerial installation because you will need the following; A Satellite Dish & LNB, and a set top box to decode the satellite signal. Yes there are a handful of companies now manufacturing FREESAT integrated TV’s, but these are few and far between and expensive in my opinion, for what they are, add to that, this segment of the market is yet to take off, so there is a concern as to how long these TV’s will continue to be produced and hence the software be updated as and when needed.
- Having FREESAT requires another remote control for the set top box and for many, this is a turn off because they already perhaps have too many remote controls, one for the TV, one for the DVD player etc etc and so having to have a third remote seems confusing and yes is another remote to lose down the back of the sofa 😉 So, unless you live in an area where Digital Terrestrial TV reception is poor, FREEVIEW might be the better choice.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS…
Having said all of the above there are some advantages a Satellite Dish has over a TV Aerial and the first one is, that you generally have a few more options as to where to site the dish, what I mean is that unlike TV Aerials, Satellite dishes do not require being installed at height, hence few people have their Sky Dishes on a chimney for example. This may be a consideration if you are not wanting a TV Aerial visible on the roof, or if you live in a Bungalow or Park home, where a loft aerial may not work,(more info here). Also, the other benefit FREESAT has over FREEVIEW, is that the set top boxes update automatically as new channels become available, where as many FREEVIEW TV’s require you to update them or retune from time to time.
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