Freesat launched on the 6th May 2008.

From a technology point of view, the Freesat service has much in common with Sky - a satellite dish is required, pointing at the Astra 2 / Eurobird satellite group (28.2°E / 28.5°E). An existing Sky dish would be perfectly suitable for this.
A Freesat satellite receiver is requried (which takes the place of a Sky receiver).

The two main differences with Sky are:

Freesat = no subscription

Freesat's EPG is different and separate

N.B. At present, FIVE US and Fiver are not available on Freesat since they are still subject to their existing Sky contract and hence are still encrypted transmissions. FIVE became available on Freesat on the 18th November 2008 - FIVE US and FIVER are expected to join Freesat also, but have no date assigned as yet. This is reportedly due to a "lack of availability of appropriate satellite capacity".
Additionally, the ITV high definition service is only available on Freesat; this is not available to Sky subscribers


Freesat receivers are available from Bush, Goodmans, Grundig (internally these are all identical receivers, made by Alba plc) and Humax. Standard definition receivers are around £50 to £70, and HD capable receivers for typically £120 to £150. These prices do not include the cost of the satellite dish, LNB and cable. The basic installation package costs £80.
Further information is available from the Freesat website.

A twin tuner PVR receiver was launched by Humax at the end of November 2008, which retails at approximately £300.


The TV programme list for Freesat is available on Astra 2D website's Freesat TV Channels page.
The Freesat radio channels list is also available on the same site.

The Freesat programme line-up looks like this (on 6th November 2008; apart from where I've amended Five):

TV & Radio Programmes

101BBC 1 S West
102BBC 2 England
103ITV1 WCountry
104Channel 4
107BBC Four
110BBC Alba
120S4C Digidol
135Zone Romantica
136Zone Reality
137Zone Thriller
138Zone Horror
139Zone Horror+1
201BBC Parliament
203Al Jazeera Eng
205France 24
206Russia Today
251Fight Network
302True Movies
303True Movies 2

402Wedding TV
406Information TV
450Men and Motors
451Audi Channel
500Chart Show TV
501The Vault
503Bubble Hits
504B4U Music
509Zee Music
5139X M
600CBBC Channel
605Tiny POP
650Teachers TV
6629X UK
690Inspiration TV

700BBC Radio 1
7011Xtra BBC
702BBC Radio 2
703BBC Radio 3
704BBC Radio 4 FM
705BBC R 5 Live
707BBCR 6 Music
708BBC 7
709BBC Asian Net
710BBC Radio 4 LW
711BBC World Sv
712BBC R Scotland
713BBC RnGaidheal
714BBC R Wales
715BBC R Cymru
716BBC R Ulster
718BBC London94.9
719Capital 95.8
720Choice FM
721Classic FM
724Absolute Radio
725Absolute Classic Rock
726Absolute Xtreme
727NME Radio
728WRN Europe
729Jazz FM
730Planet Rock
750RTE Radio 1
751RTE 2FM
752RTE Lyric FM
753RTE na Gaeltachta
777Insight Radio
786BFBS Radio
801price-drop tv
802bid tv
803Pitch TV
804Pitch World
805Gems TV
806Celebrity Shop
807Shop On TV
810JML Cookshop
811Thane Direct
812Simply Shopping
813Best Direct
851Netplay TV
861Gala TV
950BBC1 London
951BBC 1 CI
952BBC 1 E Mids
953BBC 1 East (E)
954BBC 1 East (W)
955BBC 1 N West
956BBC 1 NE & C
957BBC 1 NI
958BBC 1 Oxford
959BBC 1 S East
960BBC 1 Scotland
961BBC 1 South
962BBC 1 S West
963BBC 1 W Mids
964BBC 1 Wales
965BBC 1 West
966BBC 1 Yorks
967BBC 1 EYrks&L
968BBC 2 England
969BBC 2 NI
970BBC 2 Scotland
971BBC 2 W


The Radio Times website contains a Freesat Q&A page, with some useful information.

The BBC's high definition (HD) service is available on Freesat. ITV has also launched their own HD service, but this is only be available on Freesat - it uses a different compression format that isn't supported by Sky HD boxes.

The BBC HD service can be viewed on a Sky HD box, but doesn't feature as part of the "Freesat from Sky" offering. The reason for this is that Sky don't supply HD boxes as part of the "Freesat from Sky" package - to get a Sky HD box (from Sky) requires a Sky subscription.

In principle, the full list of programmes on Freesat could correspond with the unencrypted channel list for Sky, but it seems that some of the new Freesat receivers will only provide the channels specified in the new Freesat EPG. The Humax receiver allows the user to add channels, where additional Sky unencrypted programmes can be added to the list.

Useful features on Freesat

Freesat receivers have some interesting features which are different to Sky receivers:

a) Programme number displayed on the front panel of the Humax receiver.

b) DiSEqC and USALS control built into the Humax receiver

c) LNB out connection

The programme number displayed on the Humax front panel is useful when recording a Freesat programme on a separate recorder (e.g. a PVR or DVD recorder). With a the Alba receivers, there's no indication of what channel the box is on without checking on the TV set.

The DiSEqC and USALS functions built into the Humax Freesat receiver enable multiple LNBs to be used for other satellites or a motorised satellite dish to be used. The Alba receivers have no DiSEqC or USALS capability. To set up the Humax requires accessing a hidden menu - see for further information.

The Humax Freesat receiver can be used in a "non-Freesat" mode. This can only be accessed from the hidden service menu. See for details.

The LNB out connection (Alba receivers only, not provided on the Humax) could in principle allow a second satellite receiver to be added on (e.g. a Sky receiver, which can then be used for Sky encrypted services provided a valid subscription is in place. However, on the back of the Alba units, the LNB out socket has a warning label that reads:
"Please note the LNB out has no function and does not act as a loop through."
It seems that this may have been originally designed as an LNB loop through, but has not been implemented on production units.