** LATEST NEWS **
August 2016 update
Again, nothing much new to report since the last update, other than the loss of a few more minor channels from Astra 2. Our alternative system continues to work well, but for how much longer is anyone's guess. Read more here .
July 2015 update
Sorry it's taken so long to update, but not much has happened in the past 9 months or so, until now.
Following the recent deployment of Astra 2G, we have lost even more channels (free and paid) to the dreaded UK beam, reducing even further our choice of UK channels via satellite.
I have updated the list of available channels > HERE <
Astra 2G is the latest and last satellite to be located at the 28.2°E slot. It completes the renewal process, as the old satellites were nearing (or exceeding) their service lives. Like 2E & F, it has two beams- a pan-European beam and a narrow UK beam. Most of the free channels have been put onto the UK beams mainly for copyright reasons.
Sorry it's taken so long to update, but it has been a very busy time the past few months.
The situation regarding receiver boxes is still the same, I do not have any in stock.
However they are now widely available in the UK & Ireland from specialist satellite dealers, and via Amazon and eBay. If you wish to source your own, please get in touch and I will give you the details of the box required.
Almost a month after the final migration of all the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 bouquets to Astra 2E's UK beam we are still being inundated with requests for our alternative system.
Of course this change isn't just affecting Portugal, it's most of Europe. Brits in southern France & Spain, Italy, Greece, the Balearics to name but a few are all looking for alternatives. So much so, that all our trusted stockists have run out of the special receiver/decoder I know and trust. There are reportedly cheaper alternatives available, but they have apparently run into problems already.
Therefore we are not taking any more orders for systems until supplies are restored.
February update II
Well, it's finally started happening! After years of planning, the UK's free TV channels are being transferred to Astra 2E's tight UK beam. For many years it has been relatively easy to receive our favourite TV and radio across Europe, but that is all about to change.
Astra 2E is a brand new satellite which was designed specifically to reduce Europe-wide coverage, and concentrate signals over the UK and Ireland- the intended audience.
The BBC led the way, with their channels being transferred at around 03:30 GMT on Thursday 6th Feb. ITV and Channel 4 will follow over the next few days, meaning most of us will be seeing the all-too-familiar 'No Satellite Signal' message on our screens.
But all is not lost. For details on our alternative system, please click > HERE <
OK, it's a bit early, but Astra 2E has finally reached her destination at 28.2°E, arriving early in the morning of 31st Jan 2014. Testing has already begun. As predicted, there is no sign of a signal from the dreaded UK beam, so when the BBC, ITV & Channel 4 services move across later this month, we will no longer be able to receive those channels on our existing systems.
See >HERE< for more.
We have been installing alternative systems for the past few months for customers keen to keep receiving BBC, ITV & Channel 4.
Please see our 'Still Want UK Telly' page for details.
January update II
Well here is the news we have all been waiting for/dreading for what feels like an eternity.
ASTRA 2E IS FINALLY ON HER WAY TO 28.2°E.
After successive delays and an extended period at the 43.5°E testing position, 2E has begun her transit to 28.2°E, and is expected to arrive there around the beginning of February. (That's Feb 2014 for those of us accustomed to dealing with Portuguese promises!).
The 'moving' is done by simply raising the craft into a higher orbit using a short blast of its on-board thrusters. The satellite's orbit is now slightly slower than that of Earth (24 hours) so, from the ground it appears to move westwards. As it approaches its destination, they simply fire the thrusters once more to slot it into position, where it will most likely spend the best part of the next 15 years.
2E's mission is, among other things, to take over television broadcasting services from the 'borrowed' Astra 1N, (and the ailing Astra 2A) and those services include all the free BBC, ITV and Channel 4 channels we are currently receiving without much difficulty. These channels will be transferred to 2E's narrow "UK" spot beam which, by definition, will not be receivable (on any ordinary dish) in Portugal. This is being done to suit the broadcasters who don't want their programmes to be available all over Europe, as theoretically it is only UK residents who pay for them.
These changes should begin happening during February, but with all the other delays that have beset this project so far, who knows? But it is safe to say it will happen and, given that there are other pressing issues 'up above', the likelihood is it will be happening sooner rather than later. Watch this space.....
If you want to be sure of keeping your BBC, ITV & Channel 4, please see:
Jan 2014 UPDATE
Happy new year!!
Well it has been so far for most viewers, as there is still no movement on the Astra 2E* situation.
SES-Astra's last announcement telling us that Astra 2E would start commercial service in February 2014 has not been updated, so as far as we know it still stands. But, as we already know they do not always stick to their word. So for the time being it is still a 'wait and see' game.
Some colleagues & I have set up various forms of monitoring equipment to keep an eye on 2E's whereabouts. This is important, as once she starts her transition to the 28.2E slot, this will effectively signal a fourteen-day countdown to the big change-over.
*Astra 2E is part of SES-Astra's on-going fleet replacement process and, once in position, will take over from the current bird (1N) which has been providing us with a very strong signal for the last couple of years. As 2E was specifically built for the job of beaming UK TV to the UK & Ireland, there will be far less overspill, meaning we will soon be seeing an end to many of our favourite TV and radio channels. Fortunately, we at TrevorTronix have devised an alternative system which, although not boasting as many channels as we currently enjoy, still retains the basic ones without the need for an internet connection or any sort of monthly subscription.
Please see our 'Still want UK Telly' page for more details.
This page will be updated as soon as any movement of Astra 2E is detected.
Please feel free to drop us a note by clicking the red 'Contact Me' button on the right.
A recent announcement from SES Astra (the owners and operators of the Astra satellite fleet) has stated that Astra 2E (the new 'UK-only' satellite for the free UK TV stations) will be coming into service around the beginning of February 2014. Now SES have made spurious announcements before, but this one does seem to have more of an official ring to it, so in all likelihood this is when we will start to see our favourite channels disappearing from our screens. UNLESS of course there is yet another delay.... We will keep you posted!
So sit back, relax and enjoy everything Christmas TV has to offer, see you in the new year.
Wishing all our customers past, present & future a very
NOVEMBER UPDATE II
Testing of Astra 2E appears to have concluded, with reports coming in from all over Europe suggesting all is well. However, there still does not seem to be any sign of movement of the bird towards 28.2°E. There are various theories as to what is causing this latest delay, but the bottom line is that we are unlikely to see any loss of signals for a few weeks yet.
As soon as the satellite starts its journey, this will signal the final count-down to the big switch-over. The switch-over of our favourite channels from the very strong 1N to the impossible-to-get (here) 2E UK beam. Transit time is normally around 11 days, a couple of days testing once it arrives and then the channel switch-overs begin.
So keep looking back here for the very latest news.
Still no change at 28.2° or 43.5°. The shiny new Astra 2E satellite is still testing at 43.5°E, though it won't be long now until she's on the move to 28.2°E- her destination for the next 15 years. Once in position, it will only be a matter of days before all UK-specific channels (mainly BBC, ITV and Channel 4) are transferred onto the UK spot beam, and will no longer be able to be received here in Portugal on existing Astra 2 systems*. This includes Sky Digibox (with or without paid Sky subscription), FreeSat and other 'free' receivers.
As soon as testing stops, we will know the journey has begun. It will take roughly ten days to travel the 11,000+ km journey.
I will update this page again as soon as it is under way.
* In the meantime, please see the 'Still want UK Telly?' page.
As I type, the new Astra 2E satellite is at its testing location at 43.5° east. All day today it has been emitting test transmissions at various frequencies.
I have my test dish aimed in that direction and so far have not been able to receive any useful signal in the frequency band used by the free UK channels- namely BBC, ITV and Channel 4.
This comes as no surprise really, as one of the main aims of this particular craft was to reduce the 'footprint', thereby limiting reception of these free services (as far as possible) to the UK and Ireland.
I am getting reports that these signals are being received further north than here, so it is safe to say that things are proceeding as planned, and soon we will no longer be able to receive our free TV channels Astra2 at 28° east.
As this now seems to be inevitable, NOW is the time to be getting ready for the dreaded day when Astra 2E takes over and we lose signal. This is looking like mid to late November 2013. Not long!!!
Please see our 'Still want UK Telly?' page for details on how.....
SEPTEMBER UPDATE II
30 Sept. 2013
Well, finally Astra 2E has launched successfully.
After a textbook lift-off at 21.38hrs GMT on 29 September 2013, Astra 2E was successfully launched into space aboard a Proton/Briz launch vehicle, and is now on its way to its temporary testing location at 43.5° east.
5 minute video V here V (Sorry about the awful commentary!)
The satellite parted company with the launch vehicle at around 8am on the 30th and is now starting on its own 15-year mission.
As soon as I hear results from its tests I will post another update here.
Testing normally take 4 ~ 6 weeks, whereupon the satellite is transferred to its service location at 28.2°E.
This is when the fun starts. 2E is supposed to be replacing Astra 1N, which is currently providing us with a very strong satellite signal. If all goes to plan, 2E's UK beam will take ALL of the UK's Public Service Broadcasts (PSB's) such as BBC, ITV and Channel 4. This means we will be seeing the dreaded " No Satellite Signal Is Being Received "on many of our favourite channels.
I am delighted to be able to tell you that we do have an alternative system available, which will still enable you to receive all the BBC channels, plus ITV1 and Channel 4, all via satellite and with no monthly subscription. No internet connection is required either, it just works in much the same way as we are all used to.
I would suggest waiting at least until 2E is successfully testing before making any changes, but this six week period would be an ideal time to start preparing for the eventual loss of signal from Astra.
Please look back soon for updates on Astra 2E tests.
Yes, the beleaguered Astra 2E suffers yet another delay as the Proton launch vehicle fails a pre-launch test.
No new launch date has yet been announced, though it has been suggested that this latest hiccup should be resolved in about two weeks.
Another report suggested there had been a disagreement between the Kazakh government and the Russian Space Agency with regard to the clean-up operation following the failed launch on July 2, but that issue is apparently resolved now. (Makers of brown envelopes will be rubbing their hands!)
More info from ILS's website here.
So, down here on the ground, it looks like our TV signals are safe for a bit longer. If the launch is delayed much further, the switch-over may have to be held back until after Christmas. Apparently there is a 'lockdown' period in the weeks approaching 25th December where no changes can be made. We will just have to wait and see.
AUGUST UPDATE II
Finally we have an official launch date for Astra 2E.
ILS (the company responsible for launching) has announced that the next satellite to be launched from Baikonur will be SES's Astra 2E satellite, to take place on 15th or 16th of September, 2013.
Positioning and in-orbit testing normally takes at least six weeks, so we won't see any changes until at least the beginning of November.
When 2E takes over from 1N, it is fairly certain that all the free channels currently carried by 1N (including all BBC, ITV and Channel 4) will no longer be receivable from 28° East in Portugal and Spain.
Astra 2E has been designed specifically to reduce footprint 'overspill', and concentrate signals over the British Isles. This has been done to fulfill the contractual and copyright obligations of the broadcasters- not their choice, but it had to be done.
Once the new satellite is in orbit and testing successfully, we have approximately SIX WEEKS to prepare for the switch-over from 1N to 2E. When services are transferred over to 2E, current systems will simply display '"No satellite signal is being received" when you try to watch BBC, ITV or Channel 4.
So what next?
At the moment, I would suggest WAIT! WAIT until the thing is up in space, orbiting and testing successfully. Not being a pessimist or anything, but things can and do go wrong. The launch could fail, the deployment could go wrong (putting the satellite into the wrong orbit) or of course the satellite itself may prove faulty. All of these things have happened before, so no point wasting time and money until and if it is necessary.
I will update this page again following the launch (successful or not) and give you more info on how to keep receiving your favourite TV programmes.
Here is an interesting page on the more technical aspects involved with the launch and subsequent of a satellite.
After a 'false start', there is still no news regarding a launch date for Astra 2E. A press report the other day suggested it would launch on 15th September, but this has since been denied by various Russian entities, so we are still effectively no further forward.
I will of course update this page as soon as more information becomes available, in the meantime enjoy your TV while you can. Although we have a solution to bring you the popular channels after Astra 2E takes over, there won't be anything like the choice we have at present, so make the most of it!
No, not MY oops, but a very big one in Kazakhstan on 2nd July. A Proton 'Briz' rocket carrying three Russian navigation satellites crashed spectacularly just seconds after lift-off. Whilst these lost satellites have nothing to do with our TV signals, the knock-on effect will be felt. The Astra 2E satellite was to be the next launch from the same launch facility (Baikonur) on the same type of Proton rocket booster.
The inevitable investigation will now take place, delaying any further launches for several months.
As soon as I hear any more news, it will be posted HERE.
Story and video of failed launch here
Launch news June 2013
ILS (the company contracted to launch the Astra 2E satellite into space) has announced that the launch will take place on 21st July 2013.
If the launch is successful (most are, but not all!), it should take six to eight weeks before it comes into service. This is the time it takes to fully test, position and stabilise the craft.
When it finally comes into service, it is intended to replace Astra 1N, the satellite which currently carries all the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 services (among others) at 28.2° East.
As this new satellite was purpose-built for UK services, it has been designed to have a narrow 'footprint' specifically to cover the UK and Ireland, with as little as possible 'over-spill'.
The likely result of all this will be the loss of these services to most of Europe, including Spain & Portugal. And this is going to happen at some point THIS SEPTEMBER.
Here at TrevorTronix, we have been working on and testing an alternative system which will be able to retrieve the BBC TV services, plus ITV1 & Channel 4.
Please click on the 'Contact Us' link and ask to be added to our mailing list (no spam, I promise) and receive updates when relevant news becomes available.
Please have a look at this page for a brief explanation on how to keep your channels.
08 Apr 2013
WHAT IS HAPPENING? We currently receive all our UK TV channels from a fleet of six satellites located at 28.2° East- collectively known as Astra 2. They are getting old now (Astra 2A was launched in 1998) and are being replaced one by one. Astra 2D was taken out of service towards the end on 2011 and a temporary replacement took over until the new 2E & F satellites were ready. 2F is already up and running, and 2E is due for launch this July, and is expected to come into service six to eight weeks later. Astra 2F has already demonstrated what the UK spot beam means to us- Channel 5 and its sisters went there and we have lost them. Astra 2E is built to a similar design, and it is intended to take all the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 channels.
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? In reality, we should not really be able to receive UK telly here at all. We have just been fortunate over the past 15 years or so that the signals have been broadcast from a fleet of bog-standard "off-the-shelf" satellites. These have a fairly generous overspill which, thanks to larger than average satellite dishes, we have been able to receive here in the south with relative ease. But all this is about to change. These old birds are nearing the end of their service lives- typically 12 ~ 15 years, and replacements are currently being built and deployed. The difference now is that these replacements are purpose-built for the job- namely supplying TV signals to the British Isles. New computer modelling technologies allow the makers to simulate very accurately how the satellite will perform from its final destination, some 22,000 miles (36,000 km) above the equator (no service calls up there for a final tweak!). Thus they can 'shape' the footprint (coverage) to cover only the intended reception area. One of these replacements (Astra 2F) is already in service (that's where Channel 5, 4-Seven and a few ITV regions have gone), Astra 2E is due for launch this summer, and 2G in 2014.
WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US? Nothing is 100% certain here. As we are on the reception fringe and well out of the intended area, there is no official data that can be relied upon to predict what will happen. But what is certain is that once Astra 2E is in service, all BBC, ITV and Channel 4 services, will be transferred from their current slot on Astra 1N to the new Astra 2E and in all probability we will not be able to receive them any longer. And this applies even to paid-up Sky subscribers. They will probably continue to receive most of their paid programmes but the free stuff all comes from the same place, and the dreaded "No Satellite Signal" message will become a common sight.
There is a little-known satellite (TF-Sat) in another part of the sky which provides a limited service, and this will be receivable for the foreseeable future. This alternative has been under test in our own workshop for the past three months- through all imaginable weather conditions and apart from a couple of blips, the reception has been excellent. Receiving from this satellite requires a special satellite box- your Sky Digibox, FreeSat or FTA receivers (even HD ones) simply won't do. They are not able to decode the signals.
All new systems we install from now are compatible* with the old (Astra 2) system AND the new TF-Sat, should the need arise.
I hope to have put your minds at rest regarding the future of your TV viewing.
The default transponder (11.778 GHz) that Sky boxes use to 'tune themselves in' is currently very weak in the Algarve. If you have recently returned to Portugal or have had to unplug your Sky box for some reason, it may take a while for it to start up again. You might see the message "No satellite signal is being received". Just leave the box plugged in for an hour or two, and the chances are it will start working soon enough.
If it's still not working after a couple of hours, try unplugging the box from the power & try again. If still nothing after 24 hours, give us a ring.
* We now have official confirmation that we are not going to lose any BBC channels until well into 2013- probably September or October.. This gives us all plenty of time to prepare. Some ITV and other free channels may still go in between times, keep checking here for the latest.
At TrevorTronix, testing continues while we try to find the most reliable, user-friendly and cost-effective solution.
This update follows a rather misleading and poorly researched article on the front page of this week's Algarve Resident, which states we will have no British TV by Christmas.
Whilst nothing is certain, I cannot see this being the case. The published technical specification of the new Astra 2F satellite does not allow for it to take the majority of the free channels we currently enjoy.
That's not to say it won't happen- just that it's not as imminent as they say. There is another satellite (Astra 2E) due to launch in the spring. After a period of testing, it too will take up residence at 28.2° East. It is of a similar design to Astra 2F, with a purpose-built 'Spot Beam' for the UK. Once it comes online, there will probably be big changes here. But that is still a while away, giving us here at TrevorTronix plenty of time to search out and test alternatives.
Keep checking back for the latest updates. More later this week.
>> A practical solution is being tested <<
Please check back soon for results.
04 Dec. 2012.
At around 04.00 GMT on 4th December 2012, four transponders carrying UK TV channels were transferred from the Europe-friendly Astra1N to the new Astra 2F UK beam.
The main affected channels are Channel 5, 5-US and 5*. Also gone are 4-Seven and a few ITV1 regions.
These channels are no longer receivable via the ASTRA2 (Sky and Freesat) satellite in southern Portugal.
Channel 5HD is still available, you will need a SkyHD Digibox and a white Sky card.
You may be visiting this page having recently lost reception of some of your TV channels.