New to the UK, need help




I have been reading thru your web site. I am a newcomer to the world of satellite systems. I lhave just moved to Weybridge, Surrey from overseas.

I am trying to by a satellite system that would enable me to watch Italian/German/French/Turkish/American news channels.

Who would sell a system that would enable me to that? Do I need subscribe to anything else, say monthly?

Does such a system come with proper manuals to set up? Do I need a technician/engineer to set it up?

What would be the costs involved appx.?

Could anyone suggest a store, etc in Surrey?

Thanks a lot. I appreciate it very much.



Honorary Admin
Jan 1, 1999
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Well it does seem like a simple question, dosn't it? Unfortunately, there are so many nuances you need to be aware of in order to reach a clear and informed decision that it would be a very long answer indeed if I were to go into all of it here.

The first thing you need to do is inventorise the actual channels you want. You've described the genres but you need to be more specific. Take American News channels for example. If you only want CNN then you will be heartened to know that it is availabe FTA (free-to-air) on several satellites, analogue and digital. There's even a Turkish CNN available FTA, which may cover that requirement as well. Others such as (C)NBC, CBS or Fox News are more difficult. Some are available FTA but only in the American broadcast standard NTSC, and/or on satellites which lie relatively far west and may be dificult to receive from your location (depends on your location and the degree of unobstructed horizon-to-horizon view you have across the arc on which the sats sit). CBS for example broadcasts a European feed from 43west in clear NTSC format. Fox News is available in the (for Europe) commonly used Ku-band, and transmits from an easy-to-see staellite (Astra1). But it is part of an encrypted Spanish package. Sure, that's been hacked - but you need to consider whether you want to go down that road (an additional layer of complexity, and illegal in most countries).
Rai News (Italian) is clear FTA on Hotbird (also easy to see) - but here's another rub. If you want to see that AND Fox News you need at least a dual-feed system (i.e. a dish and a special double LNB - the bit that sits in front of the dish itself and picks up the focussed signal - to be able to see two satellites at once). That also places constraints on the receiver you can do with (it will need to be capable of talking to those two LNBs using the so-called DiSEqC commands). If you want to add that 43w CBS feed to the list, you will need at least two dishes (the multiple LNBs on a single dish trick will not work now, since the 43w sat is simply too far away from the others) - or you will need a motorised system. The latter takes you into a whole different ball game. Not only does your dish need to be very precisely aligned and driven by a motor/actuator, but you will need a positioning device to direct the motor to the right place. If you want your positioner to be directed to the right place just by zapping to the desired channel, then you need either a receiver with a built-in positioner or else an external motor capable of interpreting DiSEqC v1.2 signals from the receiver (and then a receiver capable of generating those signals - not all do).

See how complex this is getting already?

Consider now that you may want to watch encrypted channels, either using official subscriber cards or else hacked cards (the latter being necessary if you want a packlage that simply is not available in your country - as most aren't indeed). Then you need to consider the different types of encryption systems that exist, and whether you want the decryption modules to be in-built in your receiver or of the interchangeable (but more expensive) "Common Interface" modular variety.

Oh, and we haven't yet established whether you want digital or analogue receiver, or indeed one that incorporates both. And that decision will rest on the specific channels you want to watch (some broadcast in digital, others analogue).

Now, before I go further I think the point is clear: this is something that requires some research. I recommend talking at length to your local friendly satellite dealer (don't choose one who simply equates satellite-tv with "Sky" since there's much more up there, and if you're after foreign stuff Sky's no use to you anyway). Then read as many back copies you can of magazines like What Satellite, Tele-Satellite International, Better Satellite, etc. What Satellite has beginners guides and glossaries.

Also check out many of the links that are posted on this board (or the main site). Especially, to begin (for that channel inventory...) this site:

On costs, briefly:
A simple FTA analogue system with second-hand equipment you erect yourself will cost you very little (say, GBP 50) as they are being thrown away these days. In fact the UK branches of the German supermarket chain "Lidl" were selling such a system a couple of weeks ago for even less - new.)
A simple new FTA digital fixed dish system you erect yourelf could cost as little as GBP 300.
A top-of-the line motorized big-dish system based around (say) an ad3000ipva receiver and with (say) a couple of the more popular decryption modules, hobby cards, programmer, etc, and fully installed by a specialist could easily set you back GBP 1500.

And no, you don't need to have the installation done by a specialist, but if (like me) you do it all yourself, then that's another fairly complex area you need to research (especially for the motorised option).

Er, welcome to the world of satellites!


Thanks a lot for the info. I guess I will start with the local yellow pages to see which dealers may be available.

I appreciate your time and response.