This post was most recently updated on September 18th, 2019
FTA is an acronym that stands for Free-to-Air. Free to air satellite refers to TV channels available on various satellite orbital positions. Unlike their encrypted counterparts, FTA channels are free to watch, i.e, they are without any scrambling or encryption signs. Today, I will write about Basic FTA Satellite TV terminologies that can enhance your understanding of FTA sat tv installation.
There are many free to air satellite channels on various satellite TV packages. it won’t be a surprise that you can watch programs like Movies, Series, Documentaries, sports, news e.t.c via FTA. All these are available free or subscriptions.
Basic FTA Satellite TV terminologies: How to receive?
Basically, all you need to decode an FTA channel is 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 the 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. Such equipment includes a satellite dish, a digital satellite decoder, coaxial cables etc. Next is the installation which you can either do yourself or outsource.
Why do we have free to air satellite channels?
Firstly, 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.
Secondly, most FTA are feed channels. A feed is a frequency released by 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.
- Basic Free-To-Air(FTA) Satellite Tv Channels with their Frequencies
- How to Manually Track a Satellite Dish Network & Frequencies
- A to Z Glossary of Satellite TV terminologies and their definition
Basic FTA Satellite TV terminologies: Detailed Explanation
A transponder is in very simple terms a transmitter on a satellite that sends information on a particular frequency only. For example, “12321MHz” 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.
What are Satellite Footprints?
We sometimes refer to Footprints 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. This is 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. A footprint is of the essence in FTA TV installations.
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 Satellite 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.
Basic FTA Satellite TV terminologies: The Symbol Rate
Symbol rate(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.
For the records, 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.
What are HD and SD as it relates to Satellite TV?
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 these are the common non-HD sat tv channels.