Freesat

Freesat is a free-to-air digital satellite television joint venture between the BBC and ITV plc., serving the United Kingdom.
The service was formed as a memorandum in 2007 and has been marketed since 6 May 2008. Freesat offers a satellite alternative to the Freeview service on digital terrestrial television, with a broadly similar selection of channels available without subscription for users purchasing a receiver.

The service also makes use of the additional capacity available on digital satellite broadcasting to offer a selection of high-definition programming from the BBC, ITV, NHK and RT.

It is possible to receive Freesat outside the UK and Ireland, although a larger dish may be required as the Astra 2E and Astra 2F footprints are mainly focused on the UK and Republic of Ireland. Freesat receivers ask for a postcode during installation, though this is just to determine which regional services to select.
The Freesat platform aims to provide a managed service with an Electronic Programme Guide and interactive features similar to that of Freeview.

It is possible to receive Freesat outside the UK and Ireland, although a larger dish may be required as the Astra 2E, 2F, 2G footprints are mainly focused on the UK and Republic of Ireland. Freesat receivers ask for a postcode during installation, but this is just to determine which regional services to select.


 

Channels on Freesat

All the main terrestrial channels are available on Freesat together with many not available on Freeview, Likewise, some channels on Freeview are not available on Freesat and are only available through Sky on satellite.

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HD Channels
BBC HD was the only high-definition channel available on Freesat from launch day, with ITV HD added as a “red-button” interactive service from 7 June 2008.

On 2 April 2010 ITV HD changed from an interactive service to a full-time channel called ITV1 HD, simulcasting the main ITV1 channel. The name was changed back to ITV HD on 14 January 2013.
BBC One HD, a high-definition simulcast of BBC One, was made available on Freesat and other platforms on 3 November 2010.
Channel 4 HD also became available on the platform on 19 April 2011, it was removed due to a carriage fee dispute with Freesat in 2018.
NHK World HD was added to Freesat on 9 May 2011.

On 14 February 2013, RT HD was added to Freesat, sharing its channel number with its standard definition simulcast.
On 26 March 2013, BBC HD was replaced by a high-definition simulcast of BBC Two.
The five channels HD simulcasts of BBC Three, BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies and BBC News) launched on 10 December 2013.
UTV HD launched on 4 November 2013, it is only available with a Northern Ireland postcode.
STV HD launched on Freesat in April of 2014 and is available with a Scottish postcode.


Regional Variations
Some channels (notably BBC One and ITV) are transmitted in regional variations and the appropriate services are selected by the Freesat receiver from the user’s postcode. In March 2010, ITV altered several of their regions from free-to-air transmission to free-to-view (because they were moved to a satellite from which transmission covers a much larger area than just the UK and content licensing means that they had to be encrypted). As a result, many Freesat viewers (who cannot receive free-to-view, encrypted content) were moved to regional variations not corresponding to their actual location.



Video On Demand (VOD)

bbciplayerThe BBC launched BBC iPlayer for Freesat devices in early 2010. BBC iPlayer is an internet based service with around 400 hours of television being available on demand. ITV Player is available for Humax, Manhattan, and some Sagemcom receivers.

The  Freetime guide also features a backwards EPG and a Showcase section offering recommendations. HTML versions of BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub (formerly ITV Player), both services use MHEG-5 on first generation devices.
YouTube launched on  Freetime receivers on 7 March 2013, the first deployment of YouTube’s HTML app in a Western European TV service.

My5 (formerly Demand 5), launched on Freesat on 6 August 2013.

In December 2015, Freesat announced the availability of an application for the Netflix subscription TV streaming service on the Humax HDR-1000S, HDR-1010S, HDR-1100S and HB-1000S Freetime receivers.

In January 2016, Saorview, the Irish free TV service announced it would be launching an online catch-up and on-demand TV service using the commercial version of the Freetime software, including EPG roll-back and remote recording, with Freesat providing a fully managed service.

In September 2016 the BBC closed the MHEG version of the BBC iPlayer (V2) used on some older connected TVs and receivers (manufactured between 2008 and 2014). Freesat Freetime equipment using the HbbTV version was unaffected. The BBC recommended that consumers should purchase replacement receivers to continue to receive BBC iPlayer.

In October 2016 STV Player was made available to Freesat viewers. The online live streaming and catch-up service operated by STV shows ITV programmes and content from its own archive.

All4 (formerly 4OD) was added to the (Humax) Freesat service soon after its launch online; however, due to fee increases at start of 2018, Channel 4 have withdrawn the All4 on-demand service from all boxes that carry the Freesat Freetime service, from 22 February 2018 as well as taking Channel 4HD from all HD-capable Freesat devices.


 

Freesat Reception Equipment

freetime-2014At the launch of the service, there were two types of Freesat receivers available —standard definition-only receivers and high definition-capable receivers. As of July 2010 there are eleven companies licensed to produce Freesat boxes and televisions. Humax launched a Freesat recorder, Freesat+, which became available to the public in November 2008.
On 17 October 2012, Humax released the first <freetime> receiver, the Humax HDR-1000S.

Following the initial launch, Panasonic introduced three plasma televisions with integrated HD Freesat receivers. At the end of October 2008, Panasonic brought out 2 more sizes which are the 32″ and 37″.
In April 2009 LG launched 4 LCD TVs with built-in Freesat receivers. The LG series is the LF7700 (discontinued mid-2010), with screen sizes of 32″, 37″, 42″ and 47″.
Sony have released two televisions with Freesat receivers, the W5810 and Z5800 series, available from sizes 32″ up to 52″ and in 100 Hz and 200 Hz alternatives.


 

Freesat Technical Details

freetime-epg1Freesat broadcasts from the same fleet of satellites (Astra 2A, Astra 2F, Astra 1N (soon to be replaced by Astra 2E) at 28.2°E and Eutelsat 28A) as Sky. Channels are broadcast using DVB-S and DVB-S2.
The Freesat electronic programme guide is broadcast from the Eutelsat 28A satellite situated at 28.5° east. Freesat’s role is not broadcasting or availability of channels (although the BBC and ITV are substantial broadcasters in their own right) but instead providing a platform for receiving the channels and the EPG.

All of the standard definition channels broadcasting to date are broadcast using DVB-S, ITV HD, NHK World HD and RT HD also use DVB-S.
Standard definition channels are broadcast using MPEG-2, while high definition channels are broadcast using MPEG-4. Since the channels are broadcast in-the-clear, they can also be received by non-Freesat receivers and, most commonly, Sky Digiboxes.

Interactive television is done using MHEG-5 rather than the proprietary OpenTV platform used by Sky.
The specification for Freesat boxes includes having an Ethernet port on the back. This is to allow on demand programming from services such as BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub to be viewed directly on the customer’s television.

Open standards and technologies form the basis of Freesat’s second generation Free Time receivers, including those from the Open IPTV Forum (OIPF), the Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) project and HTML5 browser technology, with the majority of the Freetime user interface built using the latter.

The Freetime spec also includes features such as: DiSEqC 1.2 support; MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance) support including single cable routing; HTML, JavaScript and CSS internet technologies for broadband-delivered interactive services; DRM for online content; and payment mechanisms.
James Strickland, Freesat’s director of product and technology development, explained that Freetime is a hybrid between HbbTV and MHEG-5.


 

Contacting Freesat

Website: www.freesat.co.uk
Email: Customerteam@freesat.co.uk
Phone: 0845 313 0052

Postal Address:
Freesat
PO Box 6296
London W1A 3FF
United Kingdom

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