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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I know its not very PC - but cant they switch the satellites off just for a week or two
Might have a few more aerial jobs to go to then !
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KB's: mapK's Freeview map terrainK's terrain plot wavesK's frequency data K's Freeview Detailed Coverage
KB Aerials Sheffield : It is quite probable that this may happen at some point, as there could be a solar storm that either takes out communications satellites, or that the satellites have to be shut down for a period to prevent damage.
But in the normal scheme of things, there is sufficient backup capacity on the satellites (invisible to the user, you can see it from the control room end) to keep them working even if most single "bits" fail. Sorry about that.
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