New Astra 1N satellite to offer more UK-focused capacity - and soon
SES Astra, the Luxembourg-based company that owns and operates the Astra satellite fleet used in the UK by Sky and the free-to-air broadcasters behind Freesat, has successfully launched the 5300kg ASTRA 1N satellite from Kourou, French Guiana on 6th August 2011.
This satellite will be moved into the 28.2 degrees east orbital position above the equator, where it will join the Astra 2 satellites. This position will allow its transmissions to be received by anyone who uses Sky or Freesat.
This additional capacity will increase the number of satellite transponders by 104.
Of particular note to free-to-air TV satellite viewers, the satellite has a "UK spot beam", which mirrors that of the Astra 2D satellite.
Whilst it can be argued (see Karen Murphy scores against the Premier League and Sky) that EU Television Without Frontiers directive allows public service broadcasters to carry their services on pan-European satellite, international rights holders prefer free-to-air channels to use the tight beams to restrict the coverage to a target country.
As all the Astra 2D transponders have been full for some years, the extra capacity on Astra 1N will allow for expansion.
Speculating, this might include:
- Space for BBC TWO HD, which will require four HD stream to provide the English, Welsh, Scottish and NI variations.
- BBC three/CBBC, BBC FOUR/Cbeebies in HD
- Space for Channel 5 to move to have all of their advertising regions free-to-air, and perhaps 5* and 5USA.
- Space for all ITV1 HD news regions to be on Freesat.
- UKTV perhaps to launch Dave, Really and Yesterday for Freesat.
- Room for Channel 4 to put 4Music on Freesat.
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Briantist: This week REAL Digital TV are having special electronic equipment installed for their transmissions. They have also signed with CONAX to provide the encryption on the pay tv channels. Last November they were given the ok to transmit both SKY Sports 1 and SKY Sports 2. Whether they will get enough people interested in buying REAL Digital satellite receivers only time will tell.
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Briantist: This is from REAL Digital TV facebook page. "REAL Digital will offer 3 services. The 1st is a large free to air package with no subscription required. Then Sky Sports 1 and 2 will be offered without any annual contract just a month by month fee which will be the lowest price that is possible. The 3rd service will be called REAL Essentials and it will be offered as a monthly subcription and would require a 12 month contract. However the monthly fee will be the lowest Pay TV service in the UK. The channels in the REAL Essentials package will be confirmed later in the year. It will have something for everyone a family".
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