In our April 2011 Newsletter we discussed part-time satellite TV for those RVers who don't need full-time service. Dish Network offers a monthly service with no contract for a fee. For those RVers who only need part-time satellite service and don't wish to pay a monthly fee, FTA or Free To Air might be an option
What is FTA and how does it work?
There are 23 TV satellites orbiting the Earth; however not all are active at this time. You are allowed to receive and watch any unscrambled signals your FTA satellite receiver can pick up. Note that many premium stations like ShowTime, HBO and most sports networks have scrambled signals and won't be received. The FTA receivers are a little different than your DirecTV or Dish Network receivers in that they allow you to receive the signals from all satellites.
You will also need a satellite dish that works with your FTA receiver and the correct LNBF head. Because you will need to move the dish between different satellites a motor on the dish is available to do this operation. Once you pay the initial outlay for this equipment, Free To Air is FREE. There are many websites that sell FTA equipment - here is just one.
What programming will I get?
All of the "feeds" for your local major networks are sent via satellite and are unscrambled. In addition, many of the other channels available on cable, DirecTV, Dish Network, Bell, Starchoice etc. are unscrambled. There is also many other programs from around the world that may be of interest to some viewers. A new website recently launched is very helpful in learning more about FTA and provides an easy programming search.
FTA is not for everyone as it does take some time to learn the system but for those who would like to get satellite TV on a budget it can be a viable alternative to paid programming.