Freesat, we have a problem….

On September 30th, 2013 International Launch Services successfully launched the replacement satellite, Astra 2E for satellite services company, SES.  Astra 2E has now reached its final destination at the 28.2/28.5 orbital arc and over the coming weeks, the channels currently presiding on Astra N1 will be relocated to Astra 2E to allow Astra N1 to return to its permanent location at 19°East.

Watch the launch here:

The channels currently located on Astra N1 include those provided by the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV.  Channel 5 has already taken up its permanent location on Astra 2F, so if you currently receive Channel 5 with no problems, then this latest switch over should have no affect, other than perhaps, the need to retune generic (non Freesat or Sky) free-to-air receivers.

If you have permanently lost Channel 5, it will not be possible to receive BBC, Channel 4 and ITV when these channels move to Astra 2E as it has the same reduced spot beam coverage of Astra 2F.  Whilst SES suggests access to this new, tighter spot beam focused on the UK will only be available in areas identified in the map below, this is based on a satellite dish size of up to 60cm and doesn’t take in to account larger dish sizes.



It is likely that expats outside this area may still be able to pick up the signal with dishes of 80cm or more.  The exact dimension requirements are, unfortunately, varied based on location and line of sight to the satellite.  For expats living in the Languedoc area, you can test your line of sight to the new satellites using applications such as DishPointer – available on both Apple and Android phones.

It is likely that Astra 2E is still going through a period of location adjustment before the signal settles, however, rule of thumb is, whatever has happened to Channel 5 at your property, the result for the remaining channels will be the same.  The only solution to which is either installation of a larger satellite dish, or subscription to a pay to view service such as SkyTV.

If you currently receive SkyTV channels via freesat, these will remain available until the launch of Astra 2G, expected in the first half of 2014, after which point these will also move to the same orbit as 2F & 2E, with the same outcome expected.

For advice or more information on the alternative options available, please contact us.