Internet TV specialist Michael Coard explains why and when you will be losing your British TV this year

WHEN Channel 5 disappeared in a puff of smoke before Christmas taking with it all those chestnuts such as CSI and Celebrity Big Brother, there was – perhaps understandably – little more than a minor ripple of concern

That was until the million or so British expats in Spain learnt that ITV and BBC might be next.

The horror of losing Coronation Street and Eastenders, not to mention X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing, was too much to bear for some people, with one even commenting in a recent article that his wife would ‘force him to move back to Blighty if she lost her British TV’.

Action stations then for many, rushing out to find the best value solution to the upcoming problem… but do they really need to worry?

Well the short answer is ‘yes’, but it is not imminent and nobody knows exactly which parts of Spain will be affected.

What is pretty certain though is Andalucia is in for the chop. And even if you live in Gibraltar you will almost certainly lose your Freesat channels this summer.

It all stems back to the launch of the SES Astra Satellite fleet some 13 years ago since when expats on the Costa del Sol could enjoy their favourite television programs via this satellite with little interruption.

However the recent and planned improvements to the Astra Satellite fleet will change all this.

Let me explain.

Our television is provided by several individual satellites positioned in geo-stationary orbit at an approximate height of 22.000 miles above the earth at 28.2deg east of south.

The individual satellites are placed several miles apart from each other and they all help to create a strong and reliable TV signal for their clients; the TV networks, such as Canal Plus, Rai Uno and ITV.

The problem is that the life of a satellite is around 12 years and as most of the present fleet were launched around 13 years ago they need to be replaced.

This was demonstrated by the rapid decline in performance of the satellite Astra 2D.

Although launched in late 2000, its performance declined so quickly that a quick fix was required and all channels were transferred to Astra 1N, a satellite intended for the use of German and Spanish channels at a slot of 19 degrees, but moved to 28.2 to assist the failing 2D.

All of the popular British channels were moved from 2D to 1N early last year and reception throughout Spain improved especially in Gibraltar and the Balearic Islands, with Andalucia also faring well.

However this is certainly all about to change this summer when 1N will be moved back to its original slot of 19deg as originally planned and all British channels will be moved to the new ‘big birds’ called Astra 2E and 2F.

Astra 2F was put into service in December 2012 and Astra 2E has a predicted launch date at the end of May.
These two satellites are of similar build and specification and have two main broadcast beams.

These are a ‘UK spot beam’ concentrated entirely on a UK domestic client base and a pan European beam.

And that is the problem as the UK spot beam will not be received on the Costa Del Sol even with a whopping three metre dish and therefore all channels will be lost.

How do we know this?

Well it has, in fact, already been proved when Channel Five moved to the UK spot beam in December and disappeared from our screens (apart from Five HD (High Definition) which is a part of the Sky package).

The date for the major ‘switch off’, as it has come to be known, is being estimated to be at some point this summer when all the UK public service channels will move to the spot beam.

It is likely to happen around two months after the satellite has been launched, positioned in the correct place and tested properly, so at a guess I would say late July.

This is already backed up by missives from the BBC (see end) where they explain about the changes being due to the need to improve services for all UK based viewers, particularly in places like northern Scotland.

Ultimately it seems certain that there will be a loss of channels in Andalucia, as well as Portugal and the Canary Islands.

Sky channels are less likely to be affected as it is probable that they will be broadcast via the pan European beam that can be received in Southern Spain without problem.

They’ve got plenty of clients down here, after all. But nothing is certain.

Luckily there are alternatives to continue getting UK TV using your internet connection.

Some free services, such as Filmon, already exist but you view on your PC or connect a cable to your main TV, however the image quality isn’t so good, and you have to pay if you want it in HD.

Another, better alternative is to subscribe to a professional streaming service and connect an IPTV set top box to your main television.

You will need a stable internet connection of at least 2M and will be able to enjoy many advanced features such as ‘never miss a program’ catch up TV, programme-recording, up-to-date movies in English and live Premier League football.

And to boot, you will be able to use the IPTV set top box to access YouTube, Google and everything else…

My advice, don’t hang around… get prepared for the ‘big switch off’ whoever you choose.

For more information visit www.smartsat-tv.com

1200 COMMENTS

  1. Concerning the Slingbox, it may be worth emphasizing something Paul P already mentioned.

    A Slingbox is essentially a server that uploads your selected TV channel to the internet. The broadband speed in the UK is a factor – but it is the upload broadband speed that is critical. It is pointless having fibre download speeds in Spain if the UK upload speed, provided by your ISP in the UK, is too low. According to Slingbox, the PRO-HD system requirements for HD and SD streaming are:

    HD Streaming: 1.5 Mbps or higher
    SD Streaming: 384 Kbps or higher

    Another obvious consideration is your monthly broadband limit, if any. You will really need unlimited broadband in the UK.

  2. For Paul P:

    Can you let me have details of your online satellite retailer in Portugal? I am in the Algarve and have many friends who will miss UK TV when the switch off happens. Marc Electronica has some different IPTV systems and is based in Portimão.

    Bill.

  3. Hi Bill, I’m not sure if I am allowed to post details of commercial companies on this forum. Can the moderator please confirm this. Thanks.

    On the subject of upload speeds as mentioned by Jamie, there can be problems with Virgin Media broadband due to their traffic management policy. I have 30MB download and 2MB upload speeds. This provides me with a stream of 1957kbps in Spain. My UK upload speed is restricted to 50% after I have uploaded 750MB within 1hour then to 65% when I hit 1000MB within the following hour. This leaves me with a stream of 700kbps until I exit the 2hour traffic management limit. Even 700kbps is very watchable, but once we lose the satellite transmissions, I will upgrade to a 120/12MB speed whilst in Spain so that even after 65% reduction, my upload speed will still be 4.3MB which is faster than my Spanish 2.5MB download and will maximise my stream.

    For users with access to unrestricted broadband (BT Infinity for example), this will not be an issue. If you can match your UK upload speed to your Spanish download, you will get the best results.

    Bear in mind that if the UK broadband is also in use In the UK by users living at the address, this will impact on the available speed for media streaming. Also of course, any devices connected to the UK based Slingbox need to be used in only one country at a time.

  4. On topic: just got 100MB fibre optic installed today by Movistar. Could have come just in the nick of time.

    Off topic: My dad is 70 next week and wants a motorised dish system for his house in Leeds. He’s currently got the usual Sky setup.

    Can someone recommend a reasonably-priced system that works well?

    Thanks again….in advance.

  5. Mike wrote:

    “Can someone recommend a reasonably-priced system that works well?”

    Are you asking for a generalised solution or a system for you as an individual?

    The distinction is important – in your case because you are already familiar with some of the technology and you already have a partial solution through your Sky subscription channels.

    Also, you have the possibility of using Sky On Demand for catchup of both Sky and the main UK TV catchup services.

    So, the “solution” for you is likely to be a mix of Sky live TV and On Demand combined with some sort of IPTV box for live UK TV. But hey! You must know that already.

    If you are asking for a recommendation for the IPTV box then my preference is a box that runs XBMC well. You can install a Windows (and presumably an Apple Mac) version of XBMC on a laptop for testing – but the easiest and cheapest way to install XBMC is on a Raspberry Pi – about 15minutes provided you purchase a pre-installed SD card for beginners. If, when you buy the Pi, you buy a separate plastic case, then allow an extra 10 minutes to fit the case.

    The average user is likely to be happy to buy into a single solution, which means a dedicated IPTV box that is already tied into a “reliable” source of UK TV streams. The streams will most likely be unknown origin, rebroadcast streams. Typically, with this solution, the IPTV box itself will most likely be a fairly basic specification that costs about 50€ to 90€ when purchased independently – but, you will pay a premium (maybe 170€) plus a monthly subscription (about 16€). All this has been explained already. The streams may provide something approaching HD quality – but remember we are talking internet TV HD and not satellite TV.

  6. Mike wrote: “Off topic: My dad is 70 next week and wants a motorised dish system for his house in Leeds. He’s currently got the usual Sky setup.”

    What is a motorised dish system? Is it the system you see on motor caravans that allows you to park up, locate the satellite and then watch TV? In which case, why does Mike’s Dad want one in Leeds when he has a perfectly good Sky system? Does he want to pick up another satellite’s reception, eg European broadcasts?

    I’m 70 next year by the way!

  7. For Paul:

    What I want is to continue to receive UK TV in Portugal after the big switch-off. There is nothing in the world to compare with UK TV. The system needs to be simple to operate so that my wife and many other friends here, who are not technically-minded, can cope. It needs to work like a Freesat or Sky+ box, having a simple EPG for programme selection. Personally I don’t need a Sky box because I don’t watch enough TV and, anyway, we will not be able to receive BBC and ITV on a Sky box after the big switch-off.

    My €169 IPTV box from Marc Electronica works well in SD and has a reasonably simple EPG. My wife can cope with it. Even when the management company start charging €15 a month after the switch-off, it will be worth it to have managed reception of UK TV channels. What is the alternative that is simple to operate for my wife and friends? A few people here in the Algarve are hoping that Sky will continue to provide them with BBC and ITV. Some have probably asked Santa Clause for exactly that. They can only live and hope.

    Anyway, I’m off to Lisbon later today for my first-ever operation. A very high-tech robot called Da Vinci is going to remove my prostate. Hopefully I will have WiFi internet access and can continue to monitor this excellent forum. I have not found a better forum on the big switch-off. Thank you to all who contribute.

    Bill.

  8. I suspect you are not alone in that wish Bill. Unfortunately, I believe that ultimately they will all be disappointed unless, like you they have other means of reception in place. Certainly Sky will not continue to broad act freest channels *(well, the terrestrial we are used to receiving), and unless you set up their own demand system, explained earlier in these blogs, that will be a no no.

    Best of luck with the op! Leonardo probably invented the robot!!

  9. To Bill

    Best wishes for your operation.

    I am sure that many on this blog appreciate your contributions.

    You are right about what, for many, is the deal breaker for a system to replace satellite TV. There are several examples of what you called “managed reception” including EPG – some of which have been mentioned on this blog.

    The only alternative to managed reception that I know of, and that provides a similar service, is TVCatchup – it provides standard definition live UK TV and an EPG – and works well on XBMC. From outside the UK you need a VPN – about 5€ per month.

    An advantage of the VPN is that its use is not confined to TVCatchup reception. Although not relevant in your case, for those with a Sky Account and an On Demand Sky box, the VPN provides access to On Demand – and the ability to record on the Sky Box the On Demand catchup programmes. The same VPN can be simultaneously used by more than one device (TV) in a house – so, for example, one can watch BBC live or catchup via iPlayer on a laptop and access TVCatchup for UK live TV on a TV.

  10. SKY will continue to broadcast on the pan European satellite, as the SKY package includes the free to air channels I see no reason why you couldn’t get the majority of them with a white card. I’m still waiting for the new satellite to move to it’s new location which it seems very reluctant to do…perhaps it’s waiting for the result of the Scottish independence vote or the result of the in / out referendum on the EU, everything else seems to be on hold.

  11. Peter, you are right in one respect, SKY WILL continue to broadcast ALL Sky channels (for how long though no one knows?).

    However the free to air channels currently using the Sky platform do so on a “leased” basis, and when the BBC etc. switch to the new satellite, all this channels WILL be lost to the Sky Satellite. This is confirmed. God knows I hope to be proved wrong, but I fear not.

  12. Hi peter,

    I have read all your posts since the start of this thread and have appreciated your advice.

    Your most recent statement

    “SKY will continue to broadcast on the pan European satellite, as the SKY package includes the free to air channels. I see no reason why you couldn’t get the majority of them with a white card”

    does need some clarification.

    First, although the general view is that Sky will continue to broadcast most of its channels on a pan-European beam, that has never been officially confirmed AFAIK.

    More important though: the “Sky package” does not include the Freesat channels. A few ITV HD channels are encrypted and broadcast by Sky – but the “Freesat” channels have no link with Sky – except, perhaps, that they mostly use the Astra satellites at 28.2 east. The Freesat channels will be broadcast, as I understand it, via the UK spot beam.

    Concerning the move of the Astra 2E sat from 43.5 east, the good news is that, as of Friday, it had not moved. Perhaps the best one can reasonably hope for at this point is that the move will start in the next day or two. This could allow the satellite to reach 28.2 just before the Christmas holiday shutdown – about 20 December. Control will then pass from Astrium to SES, who control the Astra fleet. Hopefully, SES will then light up a few transponders on the UK beam and so we’ll get the first indications of the 2E footprint in fringe regions. At least then we might finally know – will we get Freesat in the South. The actual switchover will then be delayed to the end of the holiday period. That will give you the holiday period to set up
    that new Android or XBMC IPTV box that Santa brought – and get it working for the switchover.

  13. I don’t know what others are experiencing but I have been using Filmon when there is a clash of programmes and have found that whe there is a really popular programme or football match on there is either a lot of break up or total loss of picture, I get 8mb download from Telefonica so I don’t think the problem is at my end, doesn’t bode well for when the world his wife and his dog named Bob start using it.

  14. I find the same with Filmon. When I really want to watch it for the 8 o’clock news, it will not start up, not even with adverts. It’s a bit unreliable.

    I also find I am geo-blocked from TVCatchup when using SmartyDNS. Is SmartyDNS not a VPN fix?

  15. To peter

    “doesn’t bode well for when the world his wife and his dog named Bob start using it”

    You may be right. I wonder:

    What system do you use to watch FilmOn – is it an Android app, or the FilmOn HDi player or perhaps XBMC?
    Do you use the FilmOn higher definition subscription service or the low definition free service?

    I have not noticed the problem you describe – maybe not watched it often enough. What I have noticed with FilmOn via an XBMC add-on is that sometimes I can watch it in FilmOn’s HD and it does not cut out. I do not pay the subscription. Other times the HD stream just stops after about about 1 minute – I then have to change the plug-in setting back to low def. Not unreasonable given that I do not pay.

    It could be that, to try to avoid the problem you describe, anyone wishing to use FilmOn as their main source of internet TV would be advised to pay the monthly subscription.

  16. Bill wrote:

    “I find the same with Filmon. When I really want to watch it for the 8 o’clock news, it will not start up, not even with adverts.”

    So, if you are seeing (or in this case not seeing) the adverts then you are using an app or the website. Try it with XBMC. No adverts, and haven’t seen the problem you and Peter describe – although I am not sure that you are describing the same problem. As a bonus, I can sometimes watch in HD, as I am now, without a subscription. I have been watching now for about an hour and a half – still at their HD quality – and it is perfectly watchable.

    If you experience the same problem again on BBC 1, try switching to the Northern Ireland alternative.

    “I also find I am geo-blocked from TVCatchup when using SmartyDNS. Is SmartyDNS not a VPN fix?”

    Answer: “no. A smart DNS is definitely not a VPN”

    See my post about this on 15th November:

    “A Smart DNS will not work with all TV streams. It will work with iPlayer, for example, and so can use it to stream BBC through iPlayer. It will not work with TVcatchup. It may or may not work with Sky On Demand.”

    To watch TVCatchup you need a VPN.

  17. I have read most of the comments regarding the ‘big switch off’.
    I own an apartment on the Costa del Sol which I visit twice a year & rent out for approx. 15 weeks in the summer.
    I have a basic Sky box & don’t pay any subscription.
    I don’t have a ‘phone line or broadband etc.
    The options of buying a box & running it through a broadband connection would be uneconomic for me.
    Any suggestions??

  18. Update on the 2E Satellite

    It is tempting to think that Astrium has forgotten that it has a brand new satellite up there – waiting to go into service. From the latest update last night, guess what. Correct. It has not moved.

    The talk now is will it actually start to move before Christmas – let alone become operational. Of course, this is all celestial music to one’s ears: no move, no switchover, no loss of TV. Looks as though once again we have a reprieve.

    Time to take stock. There is still a possibility of a switchover before Christmas – but it does seem very unlikely.

    There has been ample time, given all the delays, to plan a contingency. I would hope that you have that in place already if you can’t live without your UK TV.

    Your preferred solution will clearly depend on your budget.

    You will pay a premium for an “off the shelf” internet TV solution – meaning an IPTV set-top box tied into a single source of TV streams. Such a solution will not necessarily buy better quality or higher definition but the system should be easier to use. The box itself could be used as a door stop if the IPTV streams are declared illegal – but lawsuits do take time.

    A big problem for anyone without an IT background is trying to visualise how these systems operate – particularly in a blog like this, where contributors cannot add images and videos. Further, there are few online resources with clear explanations at the appropriate level.

    There are two requirements:
    a description of the system with images of using the set-top box to select a TV channel.
    instructions on how to install the system.

    Throughout this blog there have been references to routers, VPNs, Android tablets and apps, FilmOn, XBMC and so on. How do you begin to make sense of it if you’ve never even seen these in use?

    This link:

    “http://jamestonbradley.wordpress.com”

    provides a useful insight into the system called XBMC – and how it is used to watch UK TV.

    It does not explain how to set up XBMC – but it does say that an explanation will follow.

  19. Hi Christine,

    “I have read most of the comments regarding the ‘big switch off’”

    I admire your stamina.

    Yours must be a common enough situation – one which has not really been addressed.

    The broadband needed for the internet solution is, of course, the main expense – compared with that the other costs can be negligible.

    If your priority is your own viewing then you could do what a friend does. He has a wireless broadband connection using a PAYG tariff. He is happy to use that at low definition – via his Android tablet connected (HDMI lead) to his TV. It is not mobile broadband so it is affordable. He uses the FilmOn app. He uses it sparingly – otherwise he could run into the ISP’s ‘fair use’ policy. In his case he needs a broadband connection when in Spain – and probably would not have had the system installed just for TV.

    Providing a TV service for paying guests is more of a problem. They, could, of course, view the satellite channels that remain after the switchover. An alternative is a six month wireless broadband contract at about 4Mbits/sec – but possibly not available in your area. Typically about 30€ per month. However, your guests may struggle with the technology.

    That leaves potentially illegal options – one of which was briefly aired on here but which is only really an option for your own visits. It involves accessing encrypted satellite broadcasts – and so that “service” is routinely interrupted without warning and so not satisfactory for paying guests.

    Is there no possibility of a communal solution in the apartments?

  20. I have to say I agree with MrSky here. I am not an advocate of filmon or notfilmon. It is a great way of watching TV on the iPad, as another means, but NOT the sole means, as I have said before in this blog. A colleague of mine bought the system a while ago,k and I said then it is very complicated and would not suit the elderly, with the drilling down and back through menus (he by the way has also lost the programs, and is one of the hundreds!)

    My solution with the sky box and catchup is great for that – catchup and sky channels. The only real way forward I suspect is IPTV, as and when the cut off happens.

    And of course, one can’t call Jamie – what about Ghostbusters.

  21. Update on the 2E Satellite

    This is turning into a daily update and so far, the message is the same: “no change”

    The satellite remains stubbornly fixed in its testing position. You can imagine that there are rumours and increased speculation about the 2E. Every day that it remains at 43.5 east means that it is increasingly likely we’ll have TV through to the New Year.

    You may be interested to know how a satellite’s position is determined. During the testing phase Astrium and SES provide no information. The operators do not release any statements until the end of testing and the transfer is proceeding.

    There are two sources:

    The US Air Force Space Command provides the data about the orbits of artificial satellites. The data can be obtained from:

    “http://www.celestrak.com/NORAD/elements/”

    This data is regularly updated – although, when a satellite changes its orbit it could take 2 days for the change to register with satellite tracking software, such as n2yo. There was an update for Astra 2E early this morning – and it is that update that shows no significant change in the orbit.

    The second source is photographic.

    Because of the uncertainty about the 2E, some experienced amateur satellite watchers have even started to doubt the reliability of the US data for the 2E. A few contributors to one of the main forums have started taking night photos of the 2E – no mean task given that it is 22,000miles above Somalia. One contributor, in a remote part of Sweden, and a long way from the light pollution of towns, has taken some good time-lapse shots. Because the satellites are geostationary they appear as bright dots – illuminated by the sun. The background of stars appears as lines – because of the earth’s rotation. Last night’s photo showed the 2E still at 43.5 east – but the atmospheric conditions were not good.

    This link shows a clear image of the 2E satellite:
    “http://www.satellites.co.uk/forums/threads/astra-2e-general-discussion-post-testing.159944/page-22”

    Scroll two/thirds down the page to Waveguide’s post. Click the black rectangle to open the photo. Waveguide has superimposed two photo’s – coded yellow and green. The 2E is the two dots on the left – from 28th Nov and 1 Dec, at 43.5 east.

  22. Hi marian,

    I presume you are asking about the switchover to the new 2E satellite and the potential loss of UK TV.

    When the switchover takes place then all channels currently on the 1N satellite will switch. The switchover should be to the 2E satellite – that is, if that satellite stirs itself and moves to its operational position. When that switch happens it will affect all regions, including the Canaries. By that, I mean that your TV satellite reception will then be from 2E and not 1N.

    The trouble is that the signal strength from the 2E will be too weak for some fringe areas of the footprint.

    The simple answer to your question is “no” – nothing has happened anywhere yet. When the switchover does happen, we’ll all know about it.

  23. After much deliberating on the raspberry Pi and set top boxes on Amazon with XBMC, I’ve decided to go the following (also bearing in mind in this equation that I don’t want to pay 60 quid a month to Murdoch).

    My dad cancelled his Sky subscription months ago. They constantly call him with offers to come back. Latest offer is 75% off for 12 months. That’s a good deal, if there are no hidden ties. I’d imagine that this deal makes you have the box connected to your phone line (?). I’m going to cancel my current Sky subscription and take his, bringing his box out to Spain. I’ll buy a VPN router so I think that will get by the fact that you need it connecting to your phone line, as it will be via the router, and use theSky catchup service for the free channels – even though this won’t be ideal for next year’s World Cup for example, which I presume we won’t be able to get live via Sky On Demand….

    Does the VPN router have to have the software pre-installed then?

    Will Sky want the box connecting to my phone line or will it being connected to the VPN router be enough?

  24. Mike,
    My VPN (Linksys E1200) VPN came with the software and UK IP address pre-installed. It works fine if, as you say, you are not worried about watching live stuff. News is obviously via Sky news which comes down the normal stream as one of the many free sky channels. Obviously if you took the sky sports package the football would not be a problem either.

    As far as a telephone connection is concerned I have been with Sky since 1992, and don’t have that problem. As I recall for new accounts they used to insist that a telephone line is connected for 12 months. However bearing in mind the fact that less and less people in the UK have land lines and more and more use mobiles all the time, I asm not sure they would still be insisting on that rule as they could lose out on many new contracts. Best talk direct to them. As a tip, if you dial Sky from Spain, dial 067, and then the FULL sky number including the country code. This works in the same way as a VPN and SKY think you are calling from the UK.

    The new VPN router has to be connected either by CAT5 cable (best) to your existing router, or by wifi, which would mean you would need a SKY wifi box, or the little plug in wifi unit sky are sending out now.

    If there is anything else, come back.

  25. Hi Ray

    I guess you are the same Ray who posted back in February – based in Canaries?

    I thought that your post on reception in the Canaries and the likely impact was well informed.

    Is there any rumoured dates for the switch-over?

    That’s just the problem – they are rumours.

    During the approx 15 day transition of the 2E sat to 28.2 east operational orbit, you will be able to monitor progress yourself, if you wish, using sat tracker software.

    The transition has still not started.

    After the transition is completed, control will pass to the operator, SES.

    SES is not obliged to make announcements. After all, UK based viewers will not be affected – most will not even know that there is a switchover and will not be aware when it happens – because their reception should continue as normal with no break in service. SES have no responsibility to viewers in fringe areas.

    That said, although we will probably not know the precise times of the switchover in advance – there will be indications. The 2E is probably already the most watched TV satellite ever. Satellite watchers will be looking carefully for the initial switch on of transponders and will be reporting on the likely fringe footprint before live TV transmissions commence. We should, I guess, then know the date for the UK beam switch to within a week.

  26. Hi Paul,

    It used to be that if you bought your box, you were not obliged to connect to your phone line twelve months, and if it was subsidised by Sky, you were. I’d say that might still be the case but I’m not sure. If I take the 50-75% off offer, my hunch is that it would mean getting it connected. You’re right about people not having landlines these days, so who knows.

    I’ve been finding out about DD-WRT and programming a normal router, which would be much cheaper, but it really does look like a quagmire. You can pick them up with DD-WRT firmware on them, but I’m not a 100% sure what you do after that! How much did you pay for your router and how much is the VPN each month? I don’t fancy paying over the odds if I can programme something myself and there are VPN services out there for less than five euros a month….

  27. Hi Mike, I paid €132.00 fitted and working, including 10 months VPN. My supplier told me that when that expires next year it will be €8 after that for the VPN.

    I have to say I am very pleased with it, and we watched a new film from the Apple Store last night that cost me 99p. But we will still go for the VPN, I suspect.

    I would double check with SKY about the phone connection because that could stiff things for you over here. However, if you already have a card and get a new box, that would not be a problem because you ring them (using the 0t67 prefix), and they will then reprogram the box to the new card, as you can of course buy sky boxes on ebay etc. You would of course still need the VPN for the spanish connection.

    Also consider the possibility of getting multi room, as then one box could be in UK and one box in Spain, and that would only cost you an extra £10 per month.

    Jamie, once again thanks for the latest update. As the President of my community i find this invaluable to circulate to our owners.

  28. What is IPTV?

    The discussion on this blog is becoming more technical with an inevitable increase in confusion and potential for misunderstanding.

    A few months ago, most readers would have had zero understanding of the mechanics of internet TV. Since then subtle distinctions, for example internet TV vis-à-vis IPTV, may have added to the confusion. In the general flow of discussion, the acronym IPTV (internet protocol TV) has been used flexibly to refer to internet TV. Example: an IPTV set-top box, meaning any device in a box used to connect the internet to the TV, with a cat5 cable socket and (preferably) an HDMI socket to connect to the TV.

    As discussion has evolved, that oversimplified use of IPTV may have caused confusion. Some may think of IPTV as a sort of badge of approval – a Kitemark – rather like the “HD Ready” symbol for a digital TV. A true IPTV system is required to provide QOS (quality of service), in particular, the quality of the broadband connection. Think of IPTV as internet TV with the added provision that the quality of the stream and the broadband connection must meet minimum standards. Do not confuse IPTV with “watching TV on your computer”. There is more to IPTV than just watching TV via the internet.

    IPTV is a ‘package’ that normaly consists of a broadband provider (ISP), the source of the streams (the stream provider) and the IPTV set-top box. In the UK there are four IPTV providers:

    Virgin Media, BT, TalkTalk, Sky

    The above providers do not provide an internet live TV equivalent to the Freesat channels, through the IPTV service.

    IPTV is sometimes called “managed” internet TV as opposed to TV delivered through an unmanaged open-internet. In a managed network there is control over the quality of the broadband.

    In Spain there are no providers of UK national TV through IPTV.

    Movistar provides an IPTV package, previously called Imagenio and now relaunched as Movistar TV (8th May 2013).

    Subscription Internet UK TV in Spain

    The subscription services, example “IPTV FOR YOU”, often describe themselves as an IPTV service. That description, as you can see from the strict definition of an IPTV, is not true. They do not meet the quality of service standard in that they do not form part of a package with the broadband provider. They may claim they are but, in fact, are not licensed by the copyright holders of the original UK TV broadcasts. Labeling a service IPTV may mislead a customer to think that there is a guarantee of quality.

    These services, despite some concerns, do provide access to UK TV via the internet and, after the purchase of the IPTV box, the subscription fee is reasonable – about 15€ per month.

    You normally purchase the package, the box and the subscription fee for the streams, from a re-seller who will probably have no control over the quality and the origin of the TV streams. The box is pre-configured to the streams – you will not be able to buy your own internet box, such as the MAG-250, and then have that configured to the subscription streams.

    IPTV FOR YOU provides more detail than most on its website. It provides not just one but a choice of three boxes. See:

    “http://www.iptvforyou.com/shop_freesat.htm”

    They charge an extra 40€ to activate the box – I presume that means to configure it to their streams. It is not clear if you can buy the box independently (and more cheaply – about 50€ and not 160€ for the MAG-250) and then just pay the 40€ for activation. May be worth asking but that does seem unlikely.

    Given that these UK TV subscription services use the acronym IPTV it is convenient to use that description here for such subscription providers of UK TV streams.

    Are the IPTV Subscription Streams Legal?

    IPTV FOR YOU appears to be part of “http://www.isatellite.co.uk/”. Their website states:

    IPTV FOR YOU is a global TV provider via Internet.
    We operate from a UK data centre (London), which allows you to watch live TV via Internet in superb quality. We host our own satellite equipment and servers in a professional “state-of-the-art” data centre with a guaranteed 24/7, 365 days a year uptime.

    I am surprised by the use of a data centre in the UK given that they must be in breach of the new EU directive on copyright. Maybe they are still sheltering under the same loophole as TVCatchup – but that loophole applies only to broadcasting for UK consumption and TVCatchup goes to almost extreme lengths to restrict their streams to the UK only – whereas the IPTV FOR YOU business model is global.

    On the question of the legality, I broadly take the view expressed on the BB4S website:

    BB4S statement – referring to post-switchover

    For Legal Copyright reasons bb4s does not currently offer a subscription based IPTV service.
    Live BBC or ITV channels are not available outside the UK and are subject to strict copyright conditions.
    There is no “Legal” satellite or IPTV service that will deliver live BBC or ITV channels to Southern Spain.
    We know individual private traders are advertising UK IPTV (BBC ,ITV, ETC) services to expats, you invest in their set top boxes and service packages at your own risk. Always ask for a full IVA receipt, this should include the traders name, trading address and fiscal number. In Spain no factura=no guarantee or legal rights.

    From “http://www.broadband4spain.com/documents/iptv.html”

    FilmOn, which is not a subscription IPTV service and is not restricted to a particular set-top box, may well be operating illegally – but their recent case in the US successfully argued that their use of an antenna farm (a similar model to Aereo) is excempt from the relevant copyright law. Consequently FilmOn is allowed to stream US network stations in New York and Massachusetts.

    Quote:

    A 2nd Circuit Appellate Court in New York has ruled that Aereo’s airing of stations is legal, so Judge Collyer allowed FilmOn to air signals in the 2nd circuit areas of New York and Connecticut even as she barred its airing of signals in the rest of the country.

    Needless to say, the case is far more complex than this brief summary.
    See: “http://www.thewrap.com/filmon-contempt-court-boston-stations-aereo-DC-judge”

    I presume that MrSkyTV is a re-seller of the MAG-250 and the associated pre-configured UK TV streams. I believe that it is only the company that re-transmits the IPTV streams, not the re-seller of the package, that can be prosecuted for breach of copyright. That, however, will not impress the customers of the re-seller if the streaming company is forced to close – the customer will have the inconvenience of the loss of UK TV. Yes, you can phone the re-seller to complain – but the re-seller, at best, can only recommend the purchase of another IPTV service from yet another IPTV provider. Maybe this scenario of close down is pure speculation – but the same can be said of the recent speculation in this blog about FilmOn. In any case, there are alternatives to FilmOn. Those alternatives are already installed in the internet set-top boxes that I use. They all work, including the FilmOn addon/app. That is the advantage of a versatile box that is not tied to a single provider’s streams. If one of the services is down for a few days, you can switch in seconds to the alternative.

    The readers of this blog, of course, can make up their own minds. Throughout the blog I have advised on all the alternatives. If I have devoted more time to the self-help approach, such as the Android set-top box and apps, it is because, inevitably, the commercial IPTV providers are perfectly capable of promoting their own wares and, of course, do not necessarily provide the full picture.

    I think it fair, given the publicity already received by some of the IPTV providers on this blog, that a few more are listed:

    SmartSat-TV
    “http://www.smartsat-tv.com/”

    astra2 TV
    “http://www.astra2.tv/”

    Watch TV Now
    “http://www.watchtvnow.co.uk/”

  29. Very well and succinctly put Jamie. I suspect that those of us who gave read this blog are aware that, basically, every system offered to place UKTV in Spain, is ultimately illegal. The lengths one is going to have to go to via IPTV, VPN etc makes it plain that it is not exactly legal.

    I have been telling my Community since the initial news that really, nothing is legal, from IPTV to network broadcasting, but it would seem that that the IUPTV systems are likely to last longer, how long is anyones guess. Even with Sky, and, connecting a UK IP addressed VPN, we are “convincing” Sky that we are in the UK, and thus being , at best, devious.

    As I understand it is also “illegal” to resell and even instal your own sky boxes over in Spain, to pick up Sky Sports etc, but Sky themselves turn a blind eye to this as it is a massive income stream for them. But they will not talk to you direct about problems with Sky in Spain.

    As you say, this blog has been aimed at the problems caused to UK expats who want to watch UK TV. The fact the all of the solutions are ultimately illegal, but being sold openly is a matter of consideration for each individual

  30. Excellent and welcome clarification on the whole IPTV position Jamie. Thank you.

    Could you perhaps let readers have details of the Filmon alternatives you mention as being available on a generic box please and how to connect to them. I’m sure there are quite a few of us who would like to have alternatives.

  31. To “MrSkyTV”

    We know of loads of clients that having purchased a ceratin android box that used Filmon have been left with no UK TV

    Are you saying that the Google Play FilmOn app on that box used to work and has stopped working? If so, here’s the app that I use:

    “https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=FIlmOn.TV+Europa+Live+TV+Free”

    version 2.0.77

    A friend has just tested it – installed the app on her Android phone – works perfectly.

    You made a few interesting points in your post. I’ll respond when I get the chance.

    I’ve just noticed the posts requesting details of alternative streams. There’s nothing new that I haven’t already posted on this blog – but rather than your having to trawl through, I’ll reply with the detail as soon as possible.

  32. To James Gold

    I have read reports on here that FilmOn has stopped working – but am finding it difficult to get the details. If I did not know better, the posts give the impression that FilmOn is dead and buried already. Other posts do not make clear:

    Is it the FilmOn Android app
    Or is it an XBMC add-on
    Or is it some other add-on or plug-in

    Which system?

    Which IPTV box?

    In your case, I believe you use the TSMedia FilmOn plugin on the Genius HD Freesat IPTV & SKY set top box. Is that correct?

    Is FilmOn now working again on that box?

    Without the details it is impossible to make useful comments.

  33. I have just opened filmon on my iPad and streamed it to the TV via the Apple TV box and it is working perfectly, certainly no shut down or loss of signal at all.

    And my colleague who has one of the boxes from a certain caplet dealer also reports the system is back up and rilnning after an update the dealer sent out.. It is a lot of had work though to change channels he says.. Not really the ideal solution.

  34. I googled ‘alternatives to filmon’ and quite a few options came up. Not sure which are any good.

    I’ll check with Sky about the phone line when I’m back in the UK but thanks for the advice MrSkyTV. I suspected multiroom would mean connecting your phone line. Logical really. Interesting about the 50 quid one-off fee.

    I’ve got a Mag250, but the EPG is mainly Russian and nothing of interest to me. Is there a way I can get UK TV through the Mag-250 without paying a subscription? Infomir said I can’t use BBC iPlayer etc as they are flash-based and the Mag250 doesn’t support flash. Filmon doesn’t work when I go through the box’s browser and just freezes on “Loading….” Maybe that’s because that is flash also.

    There’s tons of Russian stuff on it though (I was given it by a company in Moscow) and it works really well. The picture is very good – more than adequate on a 60″ screen – not blotchy at all, no buffering – although the new internet connection at 60MB helps I suppose. If it did have English content then it would be great! There is access to tons of stuff, various TV services, films and so on, some free stuff and some paying. All in Ruskie though!

    On that note, I’ve spoken to Infomir, who make these things, and they say that in January they will release the Mag-260, which will support flash. This is a game-changer if it happens. That means you can get yourself a Mag-260 and UK IP router and you’re away. BBC iPlayer etc, so you can even watch live TV. No monthly payment, nothing. I think we’ll find when the dust settles that if the Mag-260 does what it says on the tin then they will become an item in most ex-pat homes on the Costa del Sol.

  35. Lots of interesting posts in the last few days. I’m home from hospital and back in the seat in the Algarve. The Mag-250 box I am using is working well and the Amsterdam managed EPG software contains 64 channels, all in English. Marc Electronica in Portimão would have sold me a Dutch version of the box had I been a Dutch customer. There is no monthly management subscription until the big switch-off and I am testing the support I can get by posing questions about recording issues I am experiencing right now. If I do not get satisfaction, I can return the box for a full €169 refund. Hopefully, all will be well as I like the live streaming quality which is just about SD and BBC World News is just about HD. I will miss the excellent satellite reception I get on my Panasonic Freesat box but what other chice do I have?

    The main reason I am concentrating on this IPTV box is that my wife would not cope technically with anything other than an EPG similar to a good Freesat or Sky box. Most of my friends here are like us, capable of getting UK TV on a laptop or PC but this is even too fiddly for some of them. I generally only have time for BBC 1, BBC 2 and ITV 1 which I can also get free on a Windows 7 laptop sat next to the TV by changing my DNS, etc.

    Bill.

  36. James Gold posted on this blog in May:

    With our IPTV box we don’t pay any money as its free and as the Company (FilmOn) that operates the streaming is based in Beverly Hills and owned by a eccentric Billionaire. (Alki David / filmon) Snoop Dog & Charlie Sheen are Directors and the guy is 45th richest in UK worth over 1,200 Million. I feel confident that their service will continue, and should it not then another supplier can be found same day.

    In reply (in May) to his post I wrote:

    I prefer to use a set-top box that gives a choice of stream providers rather than a customised box which, I presume, could restrict you to the re-broadcaster’s transmissions.”

    I was not suggesting that the set-top box used by James Gold, supplied by MrSkyTV, was not capable of using alternative streams – I believe it is.

    But I did point out:

    I do not share his (James Gold’s) optimism that: ‘should it (FilmOn) not continue then another supplier can be found same day’.

    The point that I was making was that, if you have not already found an alternative stream source and set it up in advance, in the event of a loss of FilmOn, it will take more than a few days to find and set up an alternative. It seems, given the recent panic over FilmOn (which, in my view was unjustified and alarmist), that my concern was justified. It is ironic that James Gold is now asking me to advise him about an alternative stream. My answer to James is I am not aware of an alternative that will function on his particular IPTV box (The Genius hybrid box using the Enigma2 plugin).

    The MrSkyTV spokeperson has added their voice to concern for those clients who lost FilmOn. I was almost ‘fooled’ into thinking, from the intensity of that concern, that FilmOn was not just dead – but that the lid was on the coffin. Now, I discover (thank you to Paul, James Gold and others) that FilmOn, in its various manifestations on the iPad, Android tablet, iOS, Windows and XBMC, is still alive and kicking and continues to provide its unique mix of live TV channels from around the world. I hasten to point out here that there is no single, free, stream provider out there (AFAIK) that could completely replace FilmOn. Replacing just the UK channels is a different matter. More on that later. Thank you also to Mike and Bill Bullock – the type of precise system detail that they provide is in short supply on this blog.

    For the moment, I am more concerned to reflect on the recent “debate” in this blog and to present a conclusion. I am still processing the feedback. I am aware that there are those who are happy to explore the possibilities, including off-the-shelf subscription package solutions, and to receive suggestions on the alternatives. There is no doubt that the majority may well decide on a subscription package – companies such as MrSkyTV should not feel threatened. In fact, MrSkyTV markets VPN hardware, necessary for the alternative DIY solutions, such as Sky OnDemand. The Sky + On Demand sat box is an IPTV box for UK TV catchup. Companies like MrSkyTV are in a win-win situation.

    I would recommend to MrSkyTV that, from a public relations perspective, they would do well to invest in netiquette training for their personnel. Shouting at contributors in capitalised text on a public blog will harm their image.

    “http://doepud.co.uk/blog/netiquette”

    It may surprise MrSkyTV that I do agree with most of the points in their two recent, lengthy emails. The main emphasis in those posts was the “legalities” and advice on purchase.

    Quotes:

    currently in Spain there are no Laws relating to watching SKY TV or IPTV or ON DEMAND UK TV in Spain, nobody has ever been arrested for watching UK TV

    Completely agree and have made the same point already, several times, in this blog. I would go further, no one has been arrested because it is not illegal to watch.

    We find it incredibly disconcerting that people use the word “illegal” when referring to UK TV in Spain . . . and . . . so no idea why blogs and Forums always end up with someone using the “illegal” angle

    MrSkyTV – think about what I said. I said what I have said before in this blog. Re-broadcasting and re-transmitting copyright material is illegal. Of course, whether that breach is actionable is another matter.

    I said:

    I believe that it is only the company that re-transmits the IPTV streams that can be prosecuted for breach of copyright

    What is “disconcerting” about that? You yourselves do not disagree. If it is illegal then contributors on blogs and forums should be able to say so. I do agree with you, though – I find it disconcerting and irresponsible when those contributors say, carte blanche, all UK TV in Spain is illegal. When I explained, in this blog, that actually there is no reason in law why, for example, you should not watch Freesat TV, one response was – well, it may not be illegal but it is immoral. Now, that was disconcerting.

    I explained, in response to your negative and potentially alarmist vibes about FilmOn, the parallel between your doubts about FilmOn and concerns about the viability of those illegal so-called IPTV subscription streams. You must have realised that other readers of this blog would also question the reliability of the subscription streams. It is natural to ask that, if the survival of FilmOn UK TV, with all the resources they have, is threatened, surely the same applies to other streams. You have since addressed that point and, true, some of those streams originate from within the old Soviet bloc and so possibly beyond the reach of EU law.

    Maybe someone can explain how these broadcasters receive those UK transmissions in order to re-transmit them over the internet. The normal method is to receive the “Freesat” transmissions by Freesat. That, at the moment, would require a modest sized – maybe a 1.5 metre dish in, for example, the Ukraine. Of course, come the switchover, the Ukraine, as with Southern Spain, could require a 3m dish or greater. I know of a 1.8m dish that does not receive 2F in Kiev. It may not be impossible to re-transmit the streams over the internet – but it will be more difficult to receive the satellite broadcasts from 2E and 2F needed for transmission. Wouldn’t it be ironic if, when the switchover to Astra 2E finally does occur, some of those illegal streams, transmitted from far eastern Europe, fail along with satellite reception in Spain?

    Quote from MrSkyTV on the use of FilmOn on XBMC:

    You may find that these boxes are far too much hard work to use, even changing channels requires pressing several buttons.

    Changing channels on FilmOn (on XBMC) requires one extra button press on the remote. Press the Stop button on the remote – that stops the stream and returns you to the UK Live TV channel list. Then use the remote in the normal way to select the new channel.

  37. Not sure if this is the correct place to ask this question – I have just bought a place in Mijas – it is a holiday home plus we will be renting it out too. Being new to this, I’m fairly ignorant with regards to watching UK TV in Spain however we will certainly want to have a reliable TV available. I don’t have internet at the property yet but I’m sure I will want to have that too. Can anyone give me any advice / recommend what I should do ? Also is there an option where I only pay for the time someone is there as it is only likely to be occupied for 6 to 8 weeks of the year max ??
    Thanks
    Colin

  38. Colin
    I also have a rental property which I visit twice a year & rent out for approx. 10-15 weeks in the summer. I posted a similar question to you & the replies I have seen haven’t been very positive.
    Basically, I think ‘we have got a big problem’.
    It seems as though a Broadband connection (+ a phone installation/rental) is essential as a starter. Then we seem to have to buy some sort of ‘receiver box’. Then I think there is some sort of monthly fee on top. If I add all these costs up then it will cost me more than £50 per rental. That is just not economic. People might think that you can just ‘add it onto the rental prices’ but, trust me, I wish it were feasible. Rental prices are about the same as they were 10 years ago & if I tried raising my prices then I’d get even fewer bookings!
    Also, from what I have read, the system of streaming TV programmes to your TV will mean a ‘not very good picture’ & it will be very fiddly to operate & change channels. I read this as another big problem as it will mean that probably every one of my holiday tenants will need to call out my managing agents (at £10 a call out) to re-set things.
    As I said, it is looking a nightmare.
    I’m just going to ‘wait & see’ what channels are left when the big switchover happens (Jan 2014 is the latest guess I believe).
    Christine Bennett

  39. The short answer is probably no CPH….

    I think you could probably find companies who would give you a holiday or buy the (Filmon versions), or even use Filmon from the iPad/android streamed to your TV, assuming it is still up and running, but whether you would find an internet provider who would offer this service, (i.e. only connected 8-12 weeks a year) I would doubt.

    However, that is my gut feeling – perhaps others know something different.

  40. I suspect you are right Christine, pretty much an essential part of all of this is the Internet, and with, one or two possible exceptions (Filmon) a monthly charge is involved, and the purchase of a box. My question would be, whilst KTV is pretty much required by the majority of ex pats here, is an necessary requirement for UK holiday makers, after all, they would not expect it anywhere in the world would they?

  41. For Colin (CPH1962):

    Welcome.

    My first advice would be to read the entire blog. I realise that it is very long now and may seem like hard work, but by the time you get down to here, you will have a much better idea of the problems and possible solutions available to you. In the meantime however, here is my summary of how things stand at present:

    Unless you have a local cable based re-broadcaster who can supply a UK TV service, you are left with either satellite or a streamed internet service which requires a reliable broadband download speed of at least 2MB. Satellite is not going to be worth considering as most of the programmes you or your renters would be likely to want to watch are about to disappear (probably). Even if you do have access to a cable based system, it is quite likely that the supplier will also lose UK programmes since they may well receive those channels by satellite themselves as they do on my urbanisation.

    As you expect to install internet in your property, it would make sense to ensure when you do so that it can support an IPTV stream. There are suppliers who offer a WiFi base internet connection which can be turned on or off on a pay as you go basis, but these systems are not usually suitable for streaming TV as they normally share an ADSL connection and have a download limit imposed by the supplier.

    I am aware of one supplier (bb4s.com)who provide a high speed WiFi system which may be worth investigating, but I am not sure if a PAYGO option is available.

    My advice would be to wait for a few weeks when all will become clear (well, clearer anyway). I wouldn’t advise purchasing any solution until Astra 2E takes over the bulk of the UK channels and you know exactly where you stand.

    As Jamie has pointed out, some/many/all of the streams supplied with dedicated IPTV boxes could depend on Freesat broadcasts received on satellite dishes which may be unable to receive the Astra 2E signal, so adopting a wait and see position especially so close to Astra 2E taking over the broadcasts would seem the prudent thing to do.

    For Christine:

    If you purchase an open source combined IPTV/satellite box for around €125 you do not have to pay any monthly fees and it will be able to provide access to all the satellite channels remaining after the change over as well as free UK IPTV from Filmon and possibly other sources.

    You are however, quite correct in that these boxes are more complicated to operate than a typical Freeview/Freesat/Sky box but I have supplied a simple set of instructions to several of my technically challenged neighbours on how to
    use the box for what they actually want and they have no problems. Picture quality depends on both the source and your broadband speed. The boxes we have opted for have an option in the plugin which allows better quality for those who have faster download speeds and conversely allows slower speeds for those whose broadband is more limited.

    For Bill:

    Pleased to see you back. Hope your recovery is quick and painfree.

    You asked recently whether I could provide details of the satellite retailer in Portugal where I purchase my GI Genius box and I replied that I was unsure whether that was allowed on here, but since no one has said I can’t, here is the information you asked for. The supplier is Sat24store.com and they have just got in stock the latest Linux based Enigma2 combined IPTV and satellite box from Opticum at €139. Stocks seem to be going down quickly! I should point out that I have no connection with the Company other than having purchased several boxes from them for myself and my neighbours. They are most helpful and happy to do cash on delivery for those who prefer it at no extra cost.

  42. I agree with paul. I have a villa I rent out and most guests do not watch t.v. on holiday. It might be worth getting broadband as many people asked for it last year, so you could charge more for the service. I intend to take out my sky plus box and then be able to access on demand.

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