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FAQ & Explanation of system types - using satellite receivers in Spain.






UK based terrestrial aerial system - Boxes such as the Humax Freeview are not the same as Humax Freesat. Freeview receivers are slightly cheaper - but do not work with satellite dishes in Spain, as they require a terrestrial (UK) aerial not a satellite dish. UK Televisions with inbuilt 'Freeview' tuners are able to receive Spanish Terrestrial Digital Television, if a suitable terrestrial aerial  is utilised, but will not pick up English terrestrial broadcasting.





Freesat is the brand name used by different manufacturers specifically for the UK. Whilst they do work overseas, the functionality is slightly different when used in Spain. Many of the channels you receive are based on your postcode in the UK. As we are in Spain, these 'regional frequencies' - do vary so these boxes will not pick up all channels & also do not receive Sky news in 'Freesat' mode or other free to air channels which are not on the Freesat program guide.


Non recording Freesat boxes are not as useful as knowing whats on in a few days time without being able to record it - makes the program guide unneccessary. Well specified recording Freesat receivers are not cheap or have as many features as the equivalent non Freesat or 'Free to air' receivers.


More on using Freesat receivers in Spain   Functionality differences between useage of equipment, between Spain & the UK.




Freesat / FTA - Whats the differences / benefits?


They are both Free to Air satellite programming - Freesat is a brand name which allows licensed manufacturers to have the 8 day epg (TV guide), along with a selection of UK programming on certain types of licensed satellite receivers.


Non Freesat but Free to air satellite boxes pick up the same channels as a Freesat box as well as all other FTA channels which are not listed on Freesats program guide.


Freesat - Good EPG (program guide), simple, good if you want to record.


FTA or standard satellite receiver - Picks up all free to air programming content, over 50 channels more than the Freesat box, receivers are generally cheaper & generally more flexibility in terms of overall features. Other options on certain Free to air receivers include;  Sky compatibility, various viewing card options, media file playback, internet web browser & youtube playback.

To add a little further confusion, some Freesat boxes also have the option of a non Freesat mode to manually scan in the other FTA channels - though these are not on Freesats main program guide. You can also not alter the layout format of channel order in most Freesat receivers. Generic receivers (not Sky) will allow you to rearrange channel list order to suit you particular viewing preferences.




Free to Air - Multimedia receivers


Some satellite receievers are supplied with a LAN / Ethernet port. This is a hard wired (Cat 5 cable) connection to the internet, in the same manner as a desktop PC, connected directly to your home router.


When connected to the internet further options are available. These can include wi fi option, web browsing, youtube, youporn, weather, 7 day program guides, Multi Media file play back (playing all internet video, music & picture files), even applications to set your recording via mobile phone applications.


Latest receivers offer Linux based operating systems which offer many customisable software plugin features as well as compatibility with options for receiving internet TV channels & linking to your PC allowing streaming from PC to TV.




Sky in Spain


Sky & Sky + HD receivers are available in Spain and are more suited for those who specifically wish to receive the Sky subscription services.

Sky boxes do not always function as well outside of the UK as free to air receivers. For more please review this link - Sky receivers in Spain. Functionality differences between useage of equipment between Spain & the UK. 






Whilst satellite systems provide the highest quality picture for UK terrestrial channels, IPTV offers a way of viewing TV, by connection to the internet. This can be used in instances where either satellite reception is not possible, or problems with siting dish.


Due to the different type of content available on IPTV, some users combine systems, using a satellite dish for UK terrestrial channels, then IPTV equipment for additional content - additional films, series etc. Additionally some of this type of hardware can also be used almost as a 'PC light' with good web browsing features, email, games & applications - more facilities, than you would get from a 'Smart TV'.


There are a number of different type of systems available, from subscription free, to premium type content. For more information on IPTV systems and the available options, please view this link





Which is the better system?


If you require a system for scheduled recording & simplicity and are not concerned about picking up every FTA channel from Astra - then a Freesat branded receiver is a suitable option. Sky+ offers a similar solution, but will not allow the box to record unless you have an active Sky subscription service & card - Freesat or free to air recording satellite receivers do not require any form of subscription to enable recording.


If you want as many channels as possible and a less costly receiver, then a generic satellite receiver will pick up all the Freesat & FTA channels - but will only allow you to see a few hours ahead on the programming guide (with the exception of Sky boxes). Boxes are now available that will allow you to upgrade by adding a hard drive or USB memory stick to record. This saves on the expense of having to upgrade to a new receiver or buying additional equipment, should you require a recording facililty.


Sky receivers are not as flexible as a free to air receivers, but have the ability to read Sky subscription cards, though there are now other satellite receivers are now available that will allow you to read a UK Sky card, addionally will allow you to record. Using a Sky card in a non subscribed original Sky box will not allow you to record - Sky lock this facility, but is bypassed on some other FTA, non Sky receivers.


Other recording options & High Definition


Twin tuner systems require a dual input, so if you only have one connection to a current receiver, you will need another connection for this type of system.


Single tuner receivers that have the ability to record are also available and require a single cable feed.


All recording systems will allow you play & pause live television. Detachable recording devices such as USB memory stick will allow you to archive any programs you record onto a computer.


Currently whilst you can get reasonable HD content on Sky - this does mean paying considerable subscription fees. On Freesat / FTA there is currently 4 main UK channels BBC HD, BBC1 HD,  ITV1 HD & 4 HD - futher FTA HD channels will become available in the near future.


The cheapest way to have a satellite receiver that allows recording (without the use an old video or DVD recorder) - is to choose a model with USB PVR. These receivers will allow the addition of a USB memory stick or external PC hard drive to be added, allowing recording via internal timers on the satellite receiver.  These systems also allow the 'pausing' of live TV & are the cheapest receivers for recording digitally.



Average standard definition recording times with a USB memory stick.  


16 gb = 16-20 +/- hours

32 gb = 32-40 +/- hours

64 gb = 64-80 +/- hours


Recording in high definition can use 4 times the memory of standard definition, depending on resolution & bit rate - variable. If recording a lot of programs, it is recommend that instead of using a memory stick, you use an internal or external hard drive 320gb +




Can I use my Sky or Sky freesat card from the UK?


UPDATED July 2014 - There are Free to air, non Sky receivers which with additional software are compatible with Sky cards. However recent changes to Sky's encryption has stopped most HD channels being received, as well as main Sport & Movie channels. This leaves the 'family' type channels - such as discovery channels etc.


Before recent security changes certain 'non Sky' receivers would open up all the channels with correct software. Historically, every time Sky changes something, the 'alternative' compatible models tend to take a few months to either be updated or manufacturers to produce new models. Presently it is believed that Sky are due to release a new subscription card & hopefully once the dust has settled on the change over, we will start to see Sky compatible receivers become available again.




More on Sky receivers & cards.



I do not need Sky card or Sky compatibility, what FTA options do I have? 


Standard receiver - Single tuner.


USB PVR receiver has the ability to add in a standard hard drive or portable memory stick to record your TV programming.


SD - Standard definition 


HD - High Definition


Twin Tuner PVR - Allows you to watch one channel whilst recording another or record both channels. Requires a second satellite cable feed.



Can I receive Spanish terrestrial TV as well as English language satellite ?


Certain receivers such as the GI Avatar 2+ will allow you to have the ability to connect to a satellite receiver as well as the Spanish terrestrial digital (TDT) system. You only need one set top box to receive both UK satellite viewing & Spanish digital television. 




Please contact Television Technology for further information, latest models & prices.