Definitions of Important terms frequently used in Free to air sat tv – For Beginners

FTA stands for Free to Air. Free to air satellite is a phrase used to refer to TV channels available on satellite without any scrambling or encryption. There are very many free to air satellite channels that consist of Movies, Series, Documentaries, Religion and International News channels out there receivable without any charge at all. For example, we have many free religion channels like Emmanuel tv, loveworld plus and the likes.  These channels are usually receivable using a Free to Air Digital Satellite Decoder that can handle the method used to compress the Video, Audio stream(s), and other services like EPG (Electronic Program Guide), Tele text, Subtitles and UTC (local time) that may accompany a TV channel.
The service providers usually up-link their content to the satellite at up-link stations with High power amplifiers so that the end consumer or viewer can get it Direct to Home (DTH) without any subscription fee at all. The only money the consumer spends is when buying the equipment required to receive the channel alike a satellite dish, digital satellite decoder, coaxial cables then you do the installation yourself or ask someone to do it for you.
Why are there free to air satellite channels? The first reason is that the Broadcaster wants to provide you with his/her content for free. Broadcasters like these usually make money by placing adverts in between programs and Movies. The second reason is that what you may think is a TV channel is actually a feed. A feed is a frequency leased from satellite companies for use when it is only required. It is mainly used to re-transmit Live TV content to the main broadcasting station. Examples of times when feeds are used are during Football matches, Seminars, political rallies and other events.


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A transponder is in very simple terms a transmitter on a satellite that sends information on a particular frequency only. For example, this12321MHz is a transponder frequency in the Ku band range and this 3123MHz is a transponder frequency in the C band range. A group of transponders can be aimed at a certain region on the earth’s surface to make a satellite footprint. A satellite in the sky can have a group of transponders in Ku band and C band or Ku band only or C band only.


Footprints are sometimes referred to as beams. A footprint is an area on the earth bounded by a contour where the received power is above a certain level. The power level is expressed in terms of EIRP. The central point where the beam is located has a high power so smaller satellite dishes can be used. As you go further away from the footprint the signal intensity fades and thus people in these areas need to use a bigger dish.
The footprint contour power will depend on whether the satellite is global, Hemispherical, zonal or spot.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, there are common satellite beams from a variety of satellites like Europe and Africa from Intelsat 20, Sub- Saharan Africa from Eutelsat 36B and SES5, East-West Africa from Amos5  just to mention a few.


A frequency is the number of times an electromagnetic wave change while carrying information (TV channels) from the satellite. The two main frequency ranges normally used for transmission of Free to Air satellite TV are C band and Ku band.  To receive C-band you need a prime focus satellite dish and to receive KU band you require an offset dish.


The polarity is the orientation of an electromagnetic wave as it travels from the satellite to the earth’s surface. There are usually two types of Polarity for KU band namely Horizontal and Vertical abbreviated as H and V respectively.

Symbol Rate

Symbol rate usually abbreviated as SR is the number of symbol changes of an Electromagnetic Wave made to the transmission medium per second. Some Free to Air Decoders can handle very high and very low Symbol Rates but others cannot. So buying a good decoder here is Key to enjoying more content.

FEC Rate

FEC stands for Forwarding Error Correction and is usually part of the broadcast meant to reduce the errors in transmission by correcting them at the receiver end instead of requesting a fresh signal like in the case of computers.

HD and SD

HD stands for High Definition a TV picture quality system that is usually viewed on an HDTV using an HDMI cable. Only HD receivers can receive HD content. Many international TV stations are now offering HD content. SD, on the other hand, refers to Standard Definition TV.


  1. Oga, pls i want to ask this question, how does crytowork works in strong decoder.blc like kwese free sport is now crytowork not biss key again. Pls help and enlighten us more.

    • @chibueze: I guess you are talking about the encryption. Well it worsk same as conax, videoguard, irdeto and so on. You can’t open it unless you habe the keys, offical decoder or u ha*ck the system.


    Sports 24 HD, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, BBC News, Special Events have resumed transmission on NSS 7 @ 20 degree west.

    Famous MTN World Wide television package has resumed transmission on a new frequency on NSS 7 @ 20 degree west KU band, Europe/Middle East beam with frequency 12679 H 6665. MTN world wide has scrambled its channels for sometime now but with this new entry, the package can be viewed with Any free to air HD powervu ( Autoroll) decoder. For those in Africa, bigger dish will be needed hopefully to track the sat since it covers Europe and Middle East. The channels on this package include the following: * Sports 24 HD * BBC News * CNBC * MSNBC * Fox News * Special Events.

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