Were ... you watching UK Free TV from the Astra satellites until last week?
What can we do if we no longer can watch the BBC from satellite when we are outside the UK? Photograph: Shutterstock
In many ways, it was never meant to be. The "old" Astra 2D satellite had a special "UK beam" that was meant to keep the satellite signals for British viewers roughly within our archipelago of Northern European islands.
However, the signals from 2D spilled all over Europe. A normal sized dish would pick them up France, and a 1.2 meter dish got many ex-pats and Anglophiles their dose of BBC and ITV as far south as Lisbon and the Greek islands.
Former Astra 2D coverage
Unofficially this was OK. The BBC was well funded, the content providers didn't really mind too much and UK licence-fee payers got a taste of home when on holiday or on business "on the contentment".
(This was never a problem for BSkyB, who still use pan-European satellites, because they restrict their services by the use of viewing cards sent out to the homes of people who can call their call centre from a UK or Ireland landline or mobile phone).
However, the Astra 2D satellite was on it's last legs: launched in late 2000 it was designed to last 12 years. Two new "birds" (as they are called) were planned to replace it: Astra 2E and, yes you guessed it, Astra 2F ( see Good news for Freesat? Astra 2E satellite launched).
Because of delays in launching, the Astra 1N satellite was put into the "Astra 2" orbit, and the services were quietly moved from 2D to 1N (New Astra 1N satellite to offer more UK-focused capacity - and soon, BBC satellite services moving to Astra 1N on 24th February 2012 ).
In the last month, Astra got the 2E satellite into orbit, and have now switched the services from 1N to 2E (Lots of fixes and updates to UK Free TV including Astra 2E and Comux) .
As Astra 1N wasn't really designed to provide a UK spot-beam (as they are called) the supposedly UK-focused beams were as easy to get in the rest of the EU as they always had been from 2D.
However, Astra 2E and 2F now have excellent spot-beam focus.
You can see details of which channel
is on which bird here: Satellite footprint maps
However, as BBC and ITV satellite moves cut off expat viewers - Recombu
notes, this means that viewers outside the UK no longer can watch services they could.
Has this affected you? Comment below please!