If you want to know how to get free satellite TV Channels this is the right palace for you. At the very beginning, let me assure you that free satellite TV channels are not a scam and it is completely legal. This scheme is known as Free-to-air (FTA) services which broadcast television and radio programs in a clear (unencrypted) form that you can watch if you have a dish antenna and satellite receiver.
Free-to-air is often used for international broadcasting and if you have the proper equipment you are set to watch content for which no subscription is expected. This broadcasting system has more practical utility than just entertainment. FTA channels are expected to be used for emergency broadcasts in some areas and these carriers are mandated to deliver FTA channels to the viewers of the local inhabitant.
There is also another service called Free-to-view (FTV) which is also free but you may need some special equipment rather than just an antenna and receiver. But the program contents are free and these services are sometimes restricted geographically. IPTV is also a great option to enjoy quality content without paying a cable bill.
A lot of mobile apps and desktop software are available for watching IPTV on mobile or Laptop. For free terrestrial TV channels, an OTA (over the air) can be used to catch tv signals from the broadcasting tower for free.
A satellite TV set gets its signal wirelessly across the world via a network of radio signals, communications satellites, broadcast centers, and outdoor antennas. The TV signal is broadcasted from the TV center to an uplink satellite orbiting the earth on a fixed orbit and then the signal is relayed back to earth.
Back in the early days, this signal was broadcasted via huge terrestrial antenna and the TV sets have their own antenna placed on top of the set or on the roof depending on the distance from the tv station. Usually, the signal strength of this signal was largely affected by the terrain and hence the picture quality was rather poor.
On the other hand, the signal quality of the Satellite TV is not affected by geography as the signal is first sent to a satellite orbiting the earth and then that signal is relayed back to the satellite receiver on earth. The signal is also amplified so that the viewer gets the top picture and sound quality without any distortion. Although bad weather and solar storms affect the satellite signal badly.
The satellite TV system is referred to as a direct-broadcast satellite (DBS or DBSTV) service. The satellite receivers have two major categories:
Digital satellite receiver or
An analog satellite receiver.
Digital receivers offer far better picture and sound quality than analog receivers and are essential for the HD TV experience. For paid subscription, the satellite signal is encrypted to protect satellite-distributed feeds for cable television networks from unauthorized users. The encryption system scrambles the original signal and only paid subscribers get the decryption key to reconstruct the original signal at the user end.
How Does a Free Satellite TV System Work?
A free satellite TV system originally works like any other satellite system except for the fact that the user doesn’t need any sort of subscription, unlike premium satellite services. The audience would need a dish antenna, a standard satellite TV receiver, and a TV to get the FTA service.
The TV signal broadcasted from the TV stations is raw and unencrypted. This signal is sent to the geostationary satellite (satellites moving at the same speed as the earth while orbiting. So on the ground, the satellites seem like stationary objects) and when it’s bounced back to earth, correctly positioned dish antennas can catch the signal.
Through the dish antenna, the TV signal reaches the receiver for further processing. Generally, the FTA channels are uncompressed and require no special type of satellite TV receiver. But the receiver has to be compatible with the station’s signal format. Usually the most popular is MPEG-2 for video compression format and the satellite receiver may have to decompress the signal for the TV to play audio and video from it.
Usually, the dish-shaped roof-mounted antennas are used for satellite TV reception. However, there are several other types and designs of satellite antennas used for different frequencies and purposes. The antenna construction and positioning differ in the case of broadcasting from the TV center, receiving that signal and relaying back to earth from the satellite, and then finally receiving it at the user end.
The TV centers use dish antennas to transmit tv signals to the satellite which are very large, as much as 9 to 12 meters. These antennas are aimed at a specific satellite and the uplinked signals are transmitted within a specific frequency range. The most popular frequency ranges are C-band (4-8 GHz), Ku-Band (12-18 GHz), Ka-band (26-40 GHz).
The transponder of the communication satellite processes the signal and sends it back to the earth at a different frequency to avoid interference with the uplink signal. The satellite uses directional antennas like wire antennas, horn antennas, reflector antennas, and array antennas.
For receiving the satellite signal, parabolic dish antennas are ubiquitously used which reflect the weak signal to the dish’s focal point where a device called a feedhorn is mounted. A feedhorn is a small horn antenna that is connected to a device called Low Noise Block (LNB) downconverter. The LNB device has a port for connecting the cheap coaxial cable to the indoor satellite receiver.
For C-band satellite television systems, a Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) is used instead of LNB at the end of the feedhorn. A special type coaxial cable and N-connector are needed to connect the antenna to the receiver.
A common household dish antenna is mounted on the rooftop directing to the satellite. One important feature about the satellite dish antenna is that it has to point correctly to the satellite orbiting above. It is difficult to achieve directional positing of the satellite antenna if you are moving on a camper van or boat as you are changing direction constantly. To tackle this issue, there are two types of satellite antenna:
Portable dish antenna with an automatic satellite tracker and
An automatic satellite tracking antenna has a servo motor and gear mechanism to move the parabolic toward the desired direction. On the other hand, an omnidirectional antenna is stationary in nature and captures signals from all directions. But omnidirectional antennas have poor reception in comparison with the parabolic satellite antenna.
OTA HDTV Antenna for free Satellite TV
Portable dish antenna with an automatic satellite tracker and Omnidirectional antenna. You can watch tons of television channels, like local ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC affiliates, public television stations, and many other HD quality channels that are free to watch and broadcasted by the terrestrial transmitters. All you need is an OTA (over the air) antenna which may be the indoor or outdoor type.
Since OTA signals are free, you don’t have to subscribe or pay anyone to watch them. Besides, if your cable or satellite reception fails, you will still be able to watch TV if you are within the range of the broadcasting center. OTA TV channels are broadcasted with high definition quality these days in the UHF band.
The terrestrial TV channels are broadcast using radio waves of different frequencies. These frequencies are divided into two bands: VHF and UHF. The VHF band is between channels 2 and 13, or frequencies 54-216 Mhz and UHF signals cover channels 14 through 83, or frequencies ranging from 300 to 3,000 Mhz.
Modern TV signals are sent in digital format but an antenna can receive both analog and digital signals regardless. So, don’t be fooled by the terms like a digital or high definition antenna and throw away your old one. If you are not getting clear reception, you might need an extra amplifier. However modern OTA antennas sometimes have built-in amplifiers for enhancing weak signals.
Two major categories of Television antennas are indoor antennas and outdoor antennas. Indoor antennas are placed inside the house, mostly on the top of the TV set, for example, rabbit ear antenna. Other types of indoor antennas like whip antenna (for vehicles), loop antenna, and flat antenna are available for the OTA HD channel.
When you reside far away from the broadcasting center, you will need outdoor-type antennas for better reception. The outdoor antennas are mounted on the rooftop and pointed in a specific direction.
Most indoor TV antennas are omnidirectional antennas. The term omnidirectional means the antenna can receive signals from any direction and usually you don’t have to aim the antenna to any specific location. But the size of the antenna depends on the frequency of the TV signal. Monopole and dipole antennas are common and most simple types of omnidirectional antennas. They are consist of single or vertical rods mounted over the ground surface,
The flat antenna is a newly developed antenna called a patch antenna which is lightweight, thin, and usually square-shaped with the claim of having more omnidirectional reception. The downside of the OTA antennas is the distance between the receiver and transmitter, they work within the line-of-sight range (65 to 95 km depending on the terrain). Also, large obstacles like hills limit the operation range.
To place any kind of OTA antenna, you have to know the location of the nearby TV broadcasting center. You can consult online resources like “Antenna Web” to find the signal strength in your area. Here you will also get the suggestion for the type of antenna you require for good reception. Depending on this distance, you may need a small indoor type omnidirectional antenna or a large directional antenna with a preamplifier.
FTA Satellite Equipment
To start with FTA satellite TV, you will need some basic equipment. This equipment includes a satellite receiver, satellite dish & LNB, and an installation kit of satellite cable, bolts & connectors.
The FTA receivers are designed to process unencrypted satellite signals. The older receivers relied on analog satellite transmissions and they are replaced by the newer receivers compatible with digital television standards.
The encoding scheme for satellite tv transmission is MPEG-2/DVB-S and for digital tv standards, it is MPEG-4/DVB-S2. So, your receiver has to be compatible with those encoding schemes.
Once you decide on your receiver, the next thing is to select an antenna to capture the satellite signal. As mentioned earlier, parabolic dish antennas are very common but you will get some other modern antennas in the market besides them.
The parabolic dish of the antenna focuses the radio waves sent from the satellite to a single point where the feed horn is positioned. A feed horn is a small microwave horn antenna and it is coupled with LNB. From the LNB, a coaxial cable carries the satellite signal to the receiver.
The size of the parabolic dish varies from 43 cm (18 in) to 80 cm (31 in) in diameter. The smaller parabolic dishes may cause problems like rain fade and interference from adjacent satellites. The large parabolic dish is made of metal mesh (mostly aluminum or fiberglass with reflective coating) to receive lower frequency. For higher frequency, the size of the dish becomes smaller and a perforated metal body is used instead of metal mesh.
There are a number of satellites in the sky of Europe and North America, which broadcast FTA signals. In order to capture these signals, the dish antenna needs to move to scan the sky, and hence a motorized base for the antenna is needed. There is another option, you could set up multiple dishes towards multiple satellites and connect all of them to a single receiver.
An installation kit is needed to anchor the dish on the rooftop or ground. You will get a supporting structure along with nut bolts in this kit. A 75-ohm coaxial cable with connectors on both ends is used to connect the antenna and satellite receiver.
From a wide variety of FTA equipment available on the market, we have compiled a list of popular items on the market right now.
KING DTP4950 DISH Tailgater Pro Bundle
The DISH Tailgater Pro premium antenna and wally receiver are designed for RV, long haul trucks, or such vehicles. Although the antenna system is portable, it can be permanently fitted on the roof of your vehicle.
When you are on the move, you will never have to miss the big game, breaking news reports, or your favorite show. King DT Series Satellite antennas have nationwide coverage and western and eastern satellites.
King DT antennas can support multiple receivers simultaneously and HDMI output. This portable dish antenna comes with an intelligent control system that automatically locks onto the signal, taking the guesswork out of setting up your RV satellite system.
Lightweight (only 8 pounds) King DISH Tailgater Pro premium antenna is designed for use on the road and to withstand harsh weather conditions.
Winegard White Company PL-7000 Dish Playmaker Portable Antenna
The military-grade aluminum alloy reflector provided with Winegard DISH Playmaker portable satellite antenna helps to improve the incoming signal quality by 20%. The high-quality reliable gear motor provides smooth and fast operation.
Despite such premium quality features, this dish antenna won’t get heavy on your pocket, the redesigned low profile feature makes the antenna quite cost-effective. The Winegard PL-7000 dish antenna weighs 7 pounds.
The Winegard Dish Playmaker PL-7000 is designed for portable use. But there is an additional roof mount kit RK-4000 for permanent installation on the roof of the RV and it is sold separately.
This dish antenna works exclusively with DISH HD solo satellite receiver technology and is compatible with DISH Pay-As-You-Go and home DISH satellite service. The DISH service subscription and compatible receiver are required along with this antenna for satellite TV service.
The compact and sleek design of the Winegard GM 9000 portable satellite antenna makes it perfect for RVers who don’t want to miss their favorite TV shows on the road. GM 9000 carryout G3 antenna automatically tunes to satellite signal and requires no precise installation requirement. The Easy-grip handle of the G3 carryout helps to carry the device easily.
Winegard GM 9000 portable antenna includes power inserter; 25-foot antenna coaxial cable; 3-foot receiver coaxial cable and printed manual. The new Winegard antenna unit offers 2 years warranty from the date of purchase.
How to get started with free satellite TV?
The first step to FTA TV would be to collect information about FTA TV channels and their corresponding satellites. Internet resources can be a great help. A website called “trackdish.com” has listed more than 400 FTA channels and the satellites which broadcast them. You will also get the location of their orbits expressed in longitude (degree and minutes) format east or west.
Once you decide on the channels and satellite, the next step is to choose an appropriate satellite receiver and parabolic dish antenna for that. Ku-Band Satellite (10.7GHz to 14.5GHz) requires an 80cm to 90cm diameter dish antenna pointing at one orbital position whereas the C band receiver needs a much bigger antenna (1.2-meter dia).
With the longitudinal data, you have to point the antenna exactly towards the orbit. It can be difficult for a beginner. You can use an app called “dish pointer pro” and other apps like it to get some idea about the orbit. If you get a satellite dish antenna with a motorized base, the receiver can automatically track the orbit.
Quick Installation guide
To install the antenna, select a site without obstacles like a large building or tree blocking the antenna face towards the sky. They might scramble the signal. Be sure that there is no law against placing a dish antenna on the rooftop where you live. In that case, you have to place the antenna on the ground. Once you select the site, you have to place the tripod for mounting the antenna.
This is where you might need some professional help because this operation involves drilling and other stuff and if you haven’t done such a thing before, it’s better to hire a professional. On the tripod, there are marked scales at the top tripod to precise position the dish antenna.
However, for the motorized antenna, the receiver automatically adjusts the optimum position using techniques like DiSEqC, USALS, and 36 V positioners. The motor doesn’t need an extra power supply, the communication cable provides the power from the receiver.
There are some dish antennas that have suction mounts for quick installation but they are prone to damage by strong wind and other forces. If you choose some of them, select a secure location. You will also find portable satellite dishes for RVs or boats. These antennas are quite easy to install, just plug and play. Always read the instruction manual provided with the antenna and don’t hesitate to consult an expert if you have any confusion.
Once the antenna is set in the correct position, you have to connect your satellite receiver with your antenna. To do that, the coaxial cable connector is connected to the “Sat In” port of the receiver, and the other end is connected to the “LNB” port of the antenna. Then connect your TV to the receiver using an HDMI cable.
Scan for channels on a TV
After installing your satellite antenna and receiver, you have to program your tv to receive the FTA channels. You can do it with your TV remote control. Turn on the TV when the satellite receiver is properly connected to your TV and then go to the “Menu” on the TV screen using your remote. Then search for the option “Scan For Channel”. Depending on the model, your TV menu may have different names for the option. Read the TV manual carefully and then start scanning.
Most of the time the process is automatic and finishes by itself when the tv tuner is done searching all the channels. However, you can manually fine-tune any channel you want for better reception.
The Cost factor for going free Satellite TV
A lot of different satellite systems are available in the market from different manufacturers having different price tags. Here is an example to give you a primary idea about the price range:
A 0.8 – 0.9 diameter dish antenna with LNB will cost you $11 to $30 or more.
The portable antennas with motor-gear mechanisms have a price tag of $500.
The receiver has a price range from $70 to $500.
These are the primary costs excluding the installation price. But remember, these are just one-time costs and after installation, you don’t have to pay any subscription fee or cable bill.
How to get local TV without cable and satellite
The concept of IP TV is gaining popularity recently as they offer tons of tv programs without cable and satellite. Like satellite channels, there are lots of TV channels streaming on the internet and you can watch them on a smart TV or on your PC. Some of these channels require paid subscription and some are free. Also, there are mobile apps and gaming console options for TV streaming.
Devices like ROKU TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and Google TV stick allow you to watch IP TV on your regular smart TV screen. Here are some options for you to watch premium quality TV shows without a cable subscription:
Costing about $7.99 every month (the lowest price pack), Netflix is one of the best OTT platforms for entertainment TV shows. All the programs are in HD format and let you watch shows and movies on two devices simultaneously. Most of the popular programs are also produced and sponsored by Netflix.
Sling TV offers a phenomenal amount of third-party TV programs from local channels to choose from without cable and satellite. With internet connectivity, you can enjoy the Sling TV streaming service.
Tech giant Apple Inc. has developed the Apple TV app for viewing content from their own channel Apple TV +. When the app was launched, it was designed for iOS and tvOS Apple devices only but from January 2019, this app is now compatible with third-party devices like Roku TV, Fire TV Edition, Samsung Tizen, LG webOS, and Vizio SmartCast smart TV platforms, with select new Sony Android TV.
Apple TV + channel hosts premium quality TV programs without any advertisement as it is a paid subscription service. The payment method is centralized through Apple’s own billing service. Apple TV + is partnered with Cinemax, Boomerang, Discovery Channel, Starz, Pattaya, etc. and the contents are downloadable to the device for offline viewing. There is an option to share accounts within families.
Google Chromecast is a streaming device that can be connected to a TV or Computer monitor through an HDMI port and this port is quite common in modern devices. The basic device will cost you $35 (3rd generation Chromecast) and for $69.99, you will get Chromecast ultra having a faster CPU. It will stream a 4K quality video.
Google Chromecast broadcasts content that is running on your mobile, tablet, or pc to the TV it is connected to. There is no additional subscription fee to use the device. However, if you choose premium services like Netflix, you have to pay the corresponding fee.
Gaming consoles are quite versatile these days and you can do more than just play video games on your console. The Xbox One with the Kinect sensor includes a Blue-ray disk player and you can play movie discs with it. Also, you can enjoy all the major streaming services on your TV with your gaming console connected to it.
The streaming services don’t require a cable subscription, just your internet connection and subscription to the specific channel if it’s a premium service. Playstation 4 is another popular gaming console with TV streaming functions.
Hulu Plus is an American streaming platform hosting more than 75 top channels including sports and news for live or on-demand watching. This platform now includes Disney + and ESPN + for live sports and entertainment. For a monthly fee of $69.99, you can $69.99 stream full seasons of exclusive series, hit movies, current episodes, premium Hulu Originals without hidden fees and installing cable equipment.
Be aware of satellite TV scams
If you find some software costing about $50 on the internet that promises you to provide free access to premium satellite TV stations then it could be a Satellite TV scam. It is also possible to obtain pirated decryption keys for the premium satellite channels for free but it is illegal to use such keys and you could face a fine or another sort of punishment for such activity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Free Satellite TV really Free?
Yes, it is. The FTA channels are unencrypted and with proper equipment, these signals can be captured for free by anyone. There is no hidden charge involved except for the price of the equipment.
Can I use a Bell DirectTV or dish network satellite dish for FTA?
No, you can’t use these dish antennas because of the circular Ku band LNB of them. Since the FTA signals have linear polarization, they need different LNB configurations.
Can I use any other old satellite dish for FTA TV?
Yes, in fact, there are a number of retro satellite dish antennas which are compatible with FTA signals. For example, shaw direct satellite dishes.
Can I use a proprietary satellite receiver for FTA?
No, proprietary satellite receivers are programmed to capture only the premium channels they promise to provide.
What type of channels are broadcasted from FTA TV?
A wide variety of entertainment, educational, sports and lifestyle channels from all over the world are available in FTA TV service.