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. Fred, how patronising you are. I am a pensioner, and I have no idea of how to install a IPTV box (whatever that is). You may be a Smart arse, but there are some us us that arent familiar with all the “jargón”. I am hoping that when and IF our current system is no longer functioning, there will be some constructive, profesional advice, not nasty comments from you.

  2. Well if the worst comes to the worst, get a terrestrial aerial and learn to live without Corrie and Eastenders. You’ll be surprised how many British programmes turn up on Spanish TV along with all the USA series, changing the language into English is just the pressing of a button, many built in tuners on modern TV’s allow you to set the default language to English in the set up menu. When I became an ex pat first in France and now in Spain I regarded getting UK TV as a bonus not a god given right. When we moved to Spain I’m sure we all had different reasons I bet watching British TV in the sun wasn’t one of the first ones.

  3. Absolutely Peter. When we first came here all we had was Gib TV (Gibraltar) and by god it was awful but it was all we had.

    People must just wait and see. Either via Internet or broadcast the problem will be solved but no longer free. There will be a price to pay.

    And By the Way mr gold, you were right, there was a drop in the ITV signal yesterday ( confirmed in other satellite blogs), perhaps the taste of things to come in the run up

  4. ‘Eileen’, part of the problem with the whole IPTV arena is that installers and other commentators, many of whom have a vested interest, often try to make out that the whole subject of Internet TV is vastly complex. It is not.

    When you say your “current system” I take it that you already have satellite TV and a set top box? Well, IPTV is basically another box, except you plug it into your Internet connection. It is just different boxes and different plugs. “Installation” is plugging it in and using a remote control to browse a menu, like you do now on a satellite box.

    Don’t forget that there is jargon in satellite systems too – just look above in the thread for BISS codes, encryption codes, transponders, and all the other terminology. You are confusing being patronising with being honest. In any event, you would have to get a professional installer would you not Eileen, so comments in a blog are irrelevant to you getting advice, and I somehow doubt you are who you say you are. lol.

  5. Oh, I am certainly who I say I am, if youare on Facebook, look up a page called Boot Sale Bargains, which I started, it is a secondhand for sale site, and there Iam running it, good old granny, pensioner, been here for 24 years, I dont know who you think I am “pretending” to be!!! I appreciate your simple explanation etc, and to be honest, I for once, actually understood what you so simply said. I am a simple person, who just wants to keep watching the TV programmes that give me pleasure, the easiest way posible, I repeat, I am not passing myself off as someone else. Come to my Facebook page, and see, I have another one called Snazadoodle Facepaint Magic, as my absolute joy is facepainting Little ones -as you will see if you look it up on Facebook. I hide behind nothing.

  6. Eileen, you seem a very clued up pensioner – you already use the Internet, so you set that up I assume? You understand blogs and websites and FaceBooks etc, so a little IPTV box should be the least of your worries. There are so many IPTV players now that you’ll find a solution I’m sure. You don’t have to understand how it works, do you, just as long as it works.

    My advice is not to read any more blog posts about IPTV lol. Good luck with it.

  7. Fred;

    Look me up on facebook also.

    Will be at Nikki Beach all day today with Mrs Gold come and say hello as I would love to give you a walm welcome.

    My IPTV box is already installed & ITV went of the other night, no idea why you are being so rude???

    Come and say hello Fred we are here all day just mention to security “Simple Fred” and they will let you in, do not wear your socks with sandals though. XXX

  8. Just got home, switched on our new IPTV box and had a search for “new plug ins” and found a new Sports Portal, its actually called “Sports Portal 2013” only took 30 seconds to download it and now I can watch F1 Live + have a choice of what cameras I wish to use to watch the F1, no idea why SKY does not have this?

  9. Att – Fred,

    What can I say apart from “We both love watching TV of an evening” some people enjoy reading, sitting in bars, knitting, or troling on forums etc we happen to enjoy TV, and I happen to also enjoy sharing my experiences with other people in Spain good or bad.

    I posted the information about the F1 because some people may find that information helpful particularly F1 fans like myself. I am sorry if you think that enjoying TV is sad, but we like many other Brits on the Coast and the UK enjoy an evening of TV with a nice wine or two. I have to admit that I do get excited when I find a new feature or plug in and this has been great as I am so happy with my purchase, If I was unhappy with my purchase I would be moaning and groaning about it so either way I would either annoy everyone with being upset and annoyed or in my case annoy people like yourself for being enthusiastic and happy. If that makes you think that myself and Mrs Gold are sad then that is your opinion and I have to respect that even if I feel it to be untrue, you have upset Mrs Gold who has just read your post.

    Fred; Can you share any thoughts on the loss of UK TV on the Costa del Sol, or IPTV etc?

    I am sure that some people have found my ramblings helpful I am not going to be put off sharing my thoughts because of one.

    Just before I got an e-mail that you had made yet another pointless post I was reading that Astra 2E is being launched on the 19th of this month and that it will start to broadcast in either August or September (ruffly) according to “robssatellitetv” website.

    Not sure why I would need any technical help??? Its all pretty straightforward my end.

    Anyway; God bless & goodnight

    James

  10. There is so much crap on tv now especially the Murdoch Speak channels but the elites are overjoyed at how passive the proles are – the ‘spectator society’ suits them just fine.

    Remember the lines from John’s song:
    they keep you doped with religion, sex and tv
    and you think your so clever and classless and free
    but your still f#~+#^* peasants as far as I can see

    And he wrote that in 1970!

    All those beautiful Andalucian nights made for a long walk in the cool night air and to look up at star filled sky – of course none of this is possible if you have turned into a couch slob.

  11. It is all too much!! I have had three system at one place over the years. In the past I have recorded films from Sky in the UK to DVD but just took hold of my new gadget today where I can record to external hard drive / laptop etc (hopefully) and then I will have a few films to watch in the afternoon when it is too hot to go outside in the summer, again hopefully as when I went to Spain at the end of May / start of June it was not that hot until the day I left.

  12. I think Stuart’s comment does make you think for sure…..but I still love me telly! (Cricket mainly).

    Nice Lennon quote too. Murdoch has contributed so many negative things to UK culture. If it wasn’t for the cricket, there’s no way I’d pay for Sky.

    We’re going off-topic again….better get back to where we were: is Eileen real and what does Mrs. Gold look like down at Nikki beach if she spends so much time sat on a presumably expensive sofa watching Channel 5???? : )

  13. I lost my ITV & BBC1 again between 10am-11am on the SKY Box, spoke with an Engineer who tells me that in June the sun casts a shadow on the satellite in the mornings and would be back on in an hour, apparently this affects people in Costa Blanca and Balearic Islands also in June because of the position of sun or satellite? Not 100% but its all working OK now, just watching “Chasing Classic Cars” excellent TV show.

    Roche-Bobois sofa & yes very expensive, thought this thread was about TV not what my wife looks like?

    We will be lunching Nikki Beach again Sunday with friends if you would like to say hello.. first Mojito on me! Just tell security you are joining the “Gold” party would love to enjoy your friendly banter in the real world.

  14. No problem with my Sky service today; BBC1 and ITV perfect between those times. Best call Eileen and get some tech support James.

    I’m washing the cat on Sunday, such a shame this clashes with your party. i was so looking forward to meeting the cast of TOWIE too.

  15. This Gold party invite thing sounds a bit creepy.

    If all else fails tv wise and you’re desperate, there will always be a way to watch Coronation Street as long as you’ve got the internet. No need to panic basically.

  16. Hi, I have just read all the previous posts and am no wiser! We spend half the year in Puerto Banus and like being able to keep up with UK tv. We have Internet access but are only able to achieve a download speed of less than 1MB with Telefonica. We pay for up to 10 but they say the max speed attainable in our area is between 1 and 3, so guess we are one of the unlucky ones. If our Internet is not fast enough for IPTV, where does that leave us?

  17. Broadcast network if you have a line of sight to the aerial. However u thought Banus had at least 2-4 Mbps in which case you would be ok . Check the local papers and get a demo in you place and that will let you know if it works for you

  18. Hi Ann

    It is a relief to see a new post that is relevant to the original topic.

    You are correct, of course. An internet solution to the loss of UK channels requires a minimum broadband speed that is not dependent on broadband use. By that I mean unlimited broadband with no downgrading of the speed as a result of sustained use.

    It sounds as though you have done the homework and used a speed test website at intervals to determine the speed. If your speed is 1Mbits per second or less then the best that you can hope for is standard definition for 1Mb/s falling to low def between about 0.5 to 1Mb/s.

    One alternative is wireless broadband which could just push you into the 1 to 3mb/s range. But check that out with the
    provider. Typical cost is 30€ per month and if the 6 months is continuous you can normally cancel the remaining 6 months with no charge. I am sure there are readers of this thread who have details of providers in your area.

    Just found this old post (2009) on the “andalucia.com” called Broadband in Puerto Banus

    but not clear if it’s capped or unlimited downloads.

    Re: Broadband in Puerto Banus

    Post by AndyT on Tue Mar 31, 2009 1:17 pm
    I’ve just moved over to Vodafones ADSL offering

    No line rental, no Telefonica, free landline, free calls to Spanish landlines, 12MB ADSL connection with 3G backup and all for 39€ a month

  19. @Ann
    I’m Staggered that in such a cosmopolitan area such as yours that you can only get 1Mb download, I live in the sticks inland and Telefonica/Movistar has just upped my download (unlimited) to 8.5 Mb. I know Telefonica has had bad press in the past but they have really upped their game. My package with them has just been changed to Fusion Cero €42 a month for fixed land line (free calls in Spain) up to 10 Mbs download (I get 8.5 totally unlimited) plus SIM card for mobile (calls from mobile 15 cents per call up to 120 minutes). I have been with Telefonica since I moved to Spain 7 years ago and apart from language issues in the past (much improved) I have had a reliable service. There are always companies saying they can give a better cheaper service but they rarely stand up to careful scrutiny. I’m not a sales rep for Telefonica just on the whole a satisfied customer.

  20. Hi, thanks for the comments. We are using wireless broadband through Telefonica but are still struggling to get to 1mb on several tests at different times of day. The information on the area speeds from the Telefonica Engineer is very recent and when I asked about 20 or 30mb when ordering I was told this was just not possible. If we cannot get IPTV service and don’t have a line of sight to a Broadcast aerial, I have no idea where to go from there. Was really hoping that IPTV would be the solution for us but it appears this is not going to be the case.

  21. To Ann

    By “wireless broadband through Telefonica” I presume you mean that you have Telefonica/Movistar broadband through your telephone landline (called ADSL) and that you have a wireless modem/router providing WiFi in the house. Or do you mean that you really do have broadband arriving at your house through a wireless internet connection and not a telephone line?

    In my previous post “wireless broadband” refers to the latter – and is provided, as Paul describes, through a line of sight transmission from an aerial.

    It is surprising, given your location, that you cannot receive greater than 1MB/s through either a telephone line or through a wireless link.

    Could you try testing your broadband download or streaming speed at well off peak times – possibly very early morning. If you’re using a wifi connection to your PC, are you able to connect using cable instead, using the cat5 ethernet cable that was supplied with the Movistar router?

    If the speed improves then any loss of speed at peak times is a contention issue – too many users competing for bandwidth.

    Given that you will be streaming TV from the UK, you could try the BBC speed test from bbc.co.uk

    The location is bbcDOTcoDOTuk/iplayer/diagnostics

    The last time I tried the test from Spain it was not blocked by the non-uk location.

    This test is tailored to provide streaming speeds given that the test is for streaming TV and not downloading.

    The test results show the speed in kbps and not Mbps.

    The speed 3000kbps is equivalent to 3Mbps.

    The table on the results screen gives an analysis of the video definition you can expect from your internet speed. For watching BBC live TV at high def, the recommendation is a minimum 3500kbps or 3.5Mbps.

    1.5Mbps is the recommended minimum for standard definition.

    If you stream UK live TV from TVCatchup, you should get standard def with 1Mbps.

  22. @Ann
    You are not going to get the download speed you want with wireless, you need a fixed line broadband connection for stable download speeds. Think of your old wireless radio subject to interference wireless broadband is no different.

  23. I have heard of this service – Fusion – from Telefonica and my brother also has it it in Fuengirola and gives the same sort of praise you are giving it Peter. I suspect I will be calling Telefonica any day now to switch back to them from BT Telecom, who, whilst they WERE cheaper (not so) sure now), have not been any good really.

    I am still tied into the Vodafone mobile contract for a year or more, so would not need the SIM side of the deal, (I assume they tailor packages now to suit)

    Thanks for the update.

  24. “I’m Staggered that in such a cosmopolitan area such as yours that you can only get 1Mb download”

    Actually, this is totally expected. It’s called contention ratio and Puerto Banus does have low speeds as it has a lot more people using the same ‘pipe’. Many people I talk to in Banus say the same thing. In the sticks the contentention ratio is much less, of course. One piece of consolation is that fibre is coming to some parts of Banus this year, so everyone can watch TOWIE without problem soon lol.

  25. The latest launch date for the Astra 2E satellite is 19th July. Based on previous experience, it will take at least a month to fine tune/position for optimum performance. On that basis, we’re not going to know how satellite signal reception has been affected in Southern Spain and Portugal until late August or even early September. There may even be commercially driven intervention from Sky in particular, who could lose significant public accessibility (and potential revenue) if no compromise solution is found. Bottom line – wait and see.

  26. Hi micmc47

    You say:

    “we’re not going to know how satellite signal reception has been affected in Southern Spain and Portugal until late August or even early September”

    Correct – in fact probably later. It takes about 2 months from initial launch, testing, moving into final position before the TV transmissions start. So it’ll be about mid-September before we have the hard facts on UK TV Free to Air channel reception from Astra 2E.

    A related point. Even when the Astra 2F started transmitting in late November – the final signal strength was not clear. Astra has continued to make further adjustments to Astra 2F through to about March this year, with the aim of reducing the footprint further. The same process is likely with Astra 2E. Maybe you will be able to receive transmissions on a 3m dish for a few months – only to find that even that dish size is useless. Of course, we cannot be sure – but what we can be virtually certain about is that a 1.5m to 2m dish, and almost certainly even bigger, will not receive FTA transmissions in Malaga.

    Of course, most of us will still cling to that tiny possibility that FTA will not disappear. There will be small differences between the 2E and the 2F satellites. The most obvious is that they are not exactly the same position over the equator at 28East. Will a separation of, say, 100km make a difference. Perhaps if the 2E is 100km west of the 2F that could increase the signal. The footprint will fall that bit further west – a slight nudge towards Spain. Without attempting a precise calculation, I guess given Spain’s position, the footprint could shift about 10km to 20km. That would be, on the geographic scale, of no significance in Malaga.

    micmc47 said

    “There may even be commercially driven intervention from Sky in particular, who could lose significant public accessibility (and potential revenue).”

    I wonder what micmc47 means and bases that statement on. In any case, I imagine that, given a choice, more people will be concerned by the loss of the UK FTA channels than by the loss of Sky subscription channels.

    Several contributors have already explained that:

    a) it is likely that Sky subscription channels, because they are encrypted, will transfer to the 2E pan-Europe beam and NOT the UK spot beam. In other words, Sky will still be received.

    b) all the available evidence points to no receivable signal from the 2E UK spot beam in Malaga and hence no FTA TV channels.

    Is micmc47 advising that we wait and see if there is a “commercially driven intervention” and if so, what does he have in mind? Surely he is not suggesting that Sky is planning to encrypt and transmit the BBC and ITV FTA channels. I wonder if the BBC and ITV have been told.

    This quote may be of interest – from the Astra forum at
    astra2forumDOTcom

    “I’m an Italian professional satellite engineer and I deal with people from SES-ASTRA , both commercial and technical guys.

    They were asked to cut out as many as possible English speaking countries owing to broadcasting rights which is a very delicate topic.

    When Astra 2F was moving footprint up/down – east/west after having been launched (and operational), they were testing true reception as theoretical footprint is not always the needed one.

    The result : In Lucca (Central-Northern Italy) you need a 3M professional dish for a 1 db margin reception.

    In Denmark not less than 1.8 M or a little larger dish, for a similar small margin.

    I’m afraid that people from SES ASTRA got what they were looking for.

    From Northern Italy to Central Italy in 230 Km (moving South), signal is dropping down 1 db every 30 km.
    It’s a very sharp edge.

    I hope Astra 2E won’t be worse.”

    The reference to “cut out as many as possible English speaking countries” refers to the policy of reducing the spot beam to the UK – so that English speakers outside the UK were less likely to receive FTA.

    “When Astra 2F was moving footprint up / down – east / west after having been launched (and operational)”

    refers to adjustments to the operational satellite that have succeeded in reducing the beam further – I guess by pointing it a little further to the west to reduce the signal further East across large populations of northern Europe. That type of adjustment could just possibly improve reception a little in the east of Spain.

    One other, very slight, glimmer of hope is what will happen when the strong transmissions from the 1N satellite are switched off. Maybe they could be masking the weaker 2F.

    Here’s the quote – the same Astra forum:

    “What do you say about the theories that for some of us the relatively strong Transponders of 1N negatively affect the much weaker 2F transponders?”

    Hey, now even I am clutching at straws!

  27. Hi Jamie, Lots of interesting background in your submission, thanks, but my bottom line still remains ‘wait and see’. As I’m only in Portugal from May to October, it will most likely be a case of seeing what is on offer here in May 2014. Even if we lose signal from this September, I’m certainly not shelling out on IPTV or anything else for a matter of just a few weeks. I’ve already tested two VPN providers on a one month trial,and can receive good quality pictures here from BBC iplayer, ITV player, Virgin Media, Channel 4 and Channel 5. I’m lucky to have access to an average 13.8 Mbps download speed here on the Algarve, but realise that broadband may not be a solution for everyone. One thing is for sure, if there’s a commercial opportunity someone (or more likely many companies)will step in with a solution – at a cost of course. I certainly won’t be jumping on the first bandwagon that comes along. Time will tell.

  28. Well, I have to say I basically agree with these two gents. It really is a question of wait and see, and this is exactly what our (reliable) satellite engineers are telling us. The more money minded ones are trying to sell the world and his wife a set-top box with the lure of half price now but full price when the satellite shuts down.

    WAIT AND SEE. I think that’s all we can do. I have the responsibility of 232 owners to consider, as up to now we have supplied 14 UK channels Free to my Community, and I am really not about to rush in where angels fear to tread.

    I am keeping them abreast with such developments that appear (e.g Broadcast Network), but am advising caution at the moment.

    I suggest you do the same.

  29. Hi micmc47 and Paul

    First to Paul

    I can see that your position vis-à-vis UK TV reception is very different from the individual, who can customise a solution and use a step-by-step approach. Maybe start with TV on a laptop or desktop or some other PC, then incorporate a dedicated set top box as the need arises or the confidence grows.

    From what you describe, your customers, some of whom will take their own decisions, en-bloc may expect a ready-made solution. Not an easy situation.

    Hi Paul, thanks for your reply.

    Far from waiting and seeing, it is clear to me that you are already “Internet TV Ready”. You already have the essential components in place and functioning. You have embraced IPTV without having to “shell out”.

    Putting it simply, there is essentially only one IPTV solution, although it may appear in different guises. The main components have been described already in this discussion:

    • high speed broadband.
    • a VPN £5 per month.
    • a Windows/Apple/Android/Linux or similar box or a Sky+ digibox for Anytime TV.
    • a display, preferably a TV.
    • a choice of TV streams – free or optional subscription

    Of course, you already know that – but some readers may want to see them listed.

    The VPN could be regarded as optional – but I think it is essential because it provides access to a number of TV streams rather than being restricted to maybe just FilmOn.

    Unless you use a laptop or desktop then, of course, you need a separate monitor or a TV. Even if you do use a laptop as the set top box you would probably hook up to large monitor or a TV.

    It is not necessary to buy into a package – I certainly have not seen any commercial package that I would prefer to use. It may be worth pointing out that those advertising packages, that include a streaming service and a set top box, and who are operating legally are providing exactly the same solution.

    There is a parallel here with satellite TV. You can either go to the installer who provides the whole package, the digibox and installs the dish – or you can buy and install the system yourself. The only slightly tricky bit is the dish installation. One advantage for the DIYer of internet TV is that there is no dish installation.

    The package may cost you 20€ per month and that may include the set top box. If not then the additional charge for the box could be about 150€ to 200€ – and the box could be no better than the 100€ box if you DIY.

    The downside for the DIYer is you will need to set up the STB – this could involve installing a program and then using plug-ins for the streams you wish to access – example: iPlayer. You can buy some STBs that are pre-programmed and then you just have to add the plug-ins.

    Note that you will be able to set up the same TV streams that are provided with the commercial packages. One of the contributors on this forum explained that his commercial box from the solution provider is pre-configured with Film-on but that plug-ins or add-ons can be installed for other streams.

    What you pay for with the commercial package, assuming it is legal, is the initial set-up and the support. You do not pay for the streams because they are publicly available. Most individuals will need assistance to select and set up the set-top box themselves. PCs are easier to set up. I am currently using a generic box based on a customised Android operating system dual-core processor. Cost about £80. It comes with a remote control. It works well with TVCatchup for all the live FTA channels. It includes a programme guide (an EPG). It is versatile – you can add plug-in programs, example iPlayer for live BBC and FilmOn.

    Worth noting that new, Android based, STBs are starting to appear – with faster, quad-core processors, more like a full PC but small, low energy and no noisy fan.

    Other costs:

    VPN Server rental £5/month
    Router for the VPN £40 to £150

    The router is necessary only if you use a VPN – even then it is not essential. You can pay well over £100 for a router that operates a VPN client. If you buy a basic router (£40) suitable for a VPN you still have to install the firmware and the VPN client. That can be a nightmare – I do not recommend a DIY job. You may find someone who can set it up for maybe £30 to £40 or you can buy a router with the firmware pre-installed (maybe about £80 on ebay – and then you have to set up the VPN on the router).

    The VPN client program can be installed easily on a PC such as laptop, desktop, some Android tablets, if you use a PC for the set-top box. Then, no need for the router. Some are happy to use a wireless mouse to control the PC, instead of a remote. However, I would prefer a PC wireless remote control, similar to TV remotes, from about £12 to £25.

    I imagine that community self-help groups will soon get to grips with the technology.

    The micmc47 approach is the model I subscribe to and would recommend. It builds on what you may have already, broadband and a PC. It does not require much additional expenditure. An alternative to a VPN is to pay the FilmOn subscription for high definition – but do that only if your broadband can deliver the necessary speed.

    It seems to me that discussion on this topic has experienced a paradigm shift. The initial ‘wait and see’ philosophy epitomised a reluctance to accept the loss of satellite FTA channels. The prevalent view seemed to be to wait and see if the channels did indeed vanish. What I now realise is that ‘wait and see’, illustrated by Paul and micmc47, does not deny that distinct possibility verging on certainty. On the contrary, wait and see accepts that possibility but prefers to wait and see what alternative solutions may emerge in the coming months before committing to buy. Very sensible but maybe not entirely realistic. Internet TV is not new and neither is the problem of accessing satellite and terrestrial TV. Valencia has been there and done it all – since they effectively lost sat TV with the 2D satellite. I cannot imagine what legal alternatives may now emerge. Just variations on a theme. However, it does take time to assimilate the new technology and so why not take advantage of the delayed satellite launch and go for a basic solution as stop gap. Also, as mentioned, set-top box technology is changing and, by the autumn I, for one, hope to have a proven quad-core set top box that delivers true HD.

    In his article, Michael Coard states that “another, better alternative is to subscribe to a professional streaming service and connect an IPTV set top box to your main television.”

    I assume he is referring to streaming the UK national TV channels. I am at a loss to know which streaming services he is referring to. Any ideas? Does he mean FilmOn – that’s the only one I know that provides the UK channels via internet and charges a subscription – and only for their HD streams?

    The approach I advocate is suitable for an individual but not for a whole community as in Paul’s case, where I guess the whole community will want a ready-made solution.

  30. Hi Everyone

    Some great advice and points here.

    I thought I might share my experiences with using VPN.

    After my sky hd box didn’t function anymore after a thunder storm here in Spain, I started to use a VPN service so I could carry on watching UK TV which was costing me around £10 a month, with a 10mb download speed I was having buffering issues and many times a frozen picture, I had this for about a year until I came across Unotelly where you just change the DNS which allows you not to lose download speed.

    I am now watching UK TV on my pc, smart tv , iPad and iPhone with no buffering issues and no frozen picture.

    For those of you not wanting a IPTV try out unotelly they Even give you a weeks trial.

    I hope this helps.

    Marty

  31. Thankyou micmc37, lot of new info there to assimilate. You are right inasmuch as personally I am set up with VPN Apple TV from Mac to TV and all the bells and whistles. My concern as you rightly say is my community of which I am president. We have a lot of elderly people who have never touched a computer and would not know one end of an Ethernet cable from the other!! They spend a lot of the day in their 4th floor flats watching BBC and ITV and they are the people I am worried about. They will probably want to go back to the UK but can’t because of property equity and are therefore stuffed. And I am equally sure they are not Ar alll ok and therefore I have taken it upon myself To find the solution if indeed there is one to be found. Can you perhaps explain this “other satellite ” up there in the western skys which apparently is still and will be still broadcasting these necessary channels – the position 97.5w rings a bell .

  32. Hi Paul,

    I think you mistook me for micmc37. No matter – I started it by typing Paul when I meant micmc37.

    My first reaction, when I first heard of the switch off, was what impact will this have on all those quite elderly Brits? In that context, comments on this and other sites about learning Spanish and watching Spanish TV are devoid of human feeling, callous and thoughtless.

    I imagine, if it were possible, that the alternative 27.5 W satellite solution, being closest to what you have now, would be the ideal. Even then, a new satellite box is needed to unlock the encryption. I already checked that earlier and discovered that the removal of the encryption is temporary – it just happens occasionally. Normally those transmissions are encrypted. If the encryption were suddenly strengthened then you’d have over 200 very disgruntled owners with 200 redundant sat boxes.

    How about just four new satellite boxes for starters, each recording a channel. Those recordings could, I suppose, then be routed to individual Smart TVs (i.e. TV plus IPTV box) over a local area network (LAN) – almost live TV.

    Probably too high tech. The design of the LAN would require a professional – and the first reaction may be it will not work.

    If and when the satellite fails the same network could be used – except this time you would record the channels direct from the internet streams.

    I am guessing that there is nothing illegal in this arrangement. Depends on whether it could be interpreted as rebroadcasting.

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