Freesat is a joint venture in the UK between BBC and ITV television destined to be a satellite alternative to freeview. The advantages of Freesat over terrestrial television are in the number of channels and the quality of the broadcast.
The service launched to the public on May 6 2008. Upon launch, the available channels included all BBC and ITV channels (with the exception of ITV2+1), most of Channel 4s channels, as well as channels from broadcasters such as Euronews, CSC Media Group, Al Jazeera and Chello Zone. Copying its launch issues at the end of the last century, Channel Five was notably absent from the party, as were channels from MTV, BSkyB and UKTV.
Currently, Freesat has 147 radio and television channels on its books. Although the adoption of more channels is going slightly slower than they had predicted, there are numerous more entertainment and music channels on the horizon.
There are a number of channels broadcast on Freeview which Freesat does not have access to. These are (at the time of writing): Smile TV, Quest, Partyland, National Lottery Xtra and teleG.
To get Freesat, you will need a satellite dish. If you don’t already have one then you will be able to get one from any of the numerous satellite shops around the country. Installation of a satellite dish generally costs in the region of £80. Once you have your satellite dish installed, you will need a digital receiver box. These contraptions pick up the digital signal from the satellite and relay the picture to your television. They can cost anywhere from £50 to right up and over £800 and you generally do get what you pay for when it comes to features and quality.
Features to look out for on your Freesat box are HD channels, Surround Sound, the ability to pause, rewind and record both HD and SD television programmes and interactive programme guides. Again, though, the more features you want, the more you will have to fork out.
If all of this is very new and sounding a bit jargon-y to you, then you would be best to visit your nearest satellite TV specialists for a chat. Most places are very happy to point you in the right direction for your equipment and have demos so you can try before you buy.