Receiving your programming content overseas can be confusing, with a myriad of different options. Below we explain all the available services. This webpage covers Satellite, IPTV / internet TV, rebroadcasting localised services and rental options. In the UK most free to air systems for reception of the main UK terrestrial channels are based on two options – either Freeview or Freesat. The former being based on terrestrial antenna system (which we cannot receive in Spain) & Freesat via a satellite dish, which we can receive. There is also Sky from the UK & the reception of this overseas is possible. For free to air content, satellite systems are generally the first recommendation, as offer the original and highest quality format, with the widest channel availability. An important point – these are without further subscription costs. Once you install a satellite dish, for free to air TV – BBC / ITV etc, there are no ongoing costs with this type of system. UK terrestrial channels are available High Definition options and Dolby Digital sound.
You can connect to surround sound systems or sound bars.
- No subscriptions for free to air TV (UK & other European countries).
- UK Sky is available if required with appropriate subscription.
- Original quality including 3D, HD & Dolby Digital Surround audio – as per UK.
- Most developed system & fastest receiver hardware.
- Can connect any amount of people to a dish, from a single user to a large community or apartment block.
- Satellite receivers now can offer IPTV as well as satellite in a single set top (link to new product page).
- Receiving English language free to air TV directly via satellite in Spain is fully legal, as defined under (link to eu law directives- PDF’s)
- You will need room for a satellite dish, as dishes are required to be larger than in the UK, as the signal overseas is weaker. Costa Blanca South, for example, a minimum of a 1.4-metre dish is recommended, though in some locations larger dishes or smaller dishes may be required due to the variable signal. Signal will not be available in all locations – difficult outside of Europe and even in parts of Spain.
- Different dish grades / types, LNB’s & brackets are supplied. Careful consideration of combined equipment will affect performance and overall channel reception & stability.
Of the single panel dishes, there are two types – one is spun (Turkish or Eastern European origin) the other is pressed.
The pressed dishes tend to be of a thicker construction and generally perform to a better standard. Spun dishes are generally of a thinner construction and in most instances have a lower signal gain. As most manufacturers do not put their name on the dishes, another way of checking is the quality of the mount and base. Budget dishes will have thinner metalwork & brackets which are not as strong as the larger diameter tubing on better quality dishes. Not all dishes are the same quality, even at the same size, this does affect signal performance.
The best option for Free to air TV is a satellite dish (call to action, satellite dish/system page)
The best option for internet – without a dish, are the hosted IPTV solutions
When streaming video content, a hard-wired connection is preferable to a Wi-Fi connection. Wi-Fi connection can slow internet speeds between 10% – 50% depending on the location of router and property construction type. Devices are available that offer both hard wire and Wi-Fi options, the highest specification offers best-combined options.
When streaming video content, a hard wired connection is preferable to a Wi Fi connection. Wi Fi connection can slow internet speeds between 10% – 50% depending on location of router and property construction type. Devices are available that offer both hard wire and Wi Fi options, the highest specification offers best combined options.
Hosted IPTV solutions – Hardware examples MAG, Formula models. Set-top boxes have a singular main integrated software/firmware solution, much like a UK Sky or Freesat box. These have your channel list, program guide, video on demand & catch up services all integrated together, alongside a hosted – subscription-based service. Of all IPTV type systems the hosted solution type hardware is designed from the outset to be the most consumer-friendly option, both in use and overall stability.
Hosted options offer a variety of viewing packages to suit, from UK terrestrials to sports on demand and premium content. Additionally, options for multiple service languages are available, allowing the highest degree of flexibility.
Other service options for hosted providers and hardware includes catch up services of UK & other channels, recording and inclusive on-demand content. Applications for different devices are available, with some services it is possible to have a main TV set-top box and use the same service on a mobile device, such as Android or Apple tablets or smartphones.
For UK TV – the above IPTV boxes you can use to access iPlayer, ITV player and some limited UK free to air viewing – however, this hardware is restricted and as supplied from the retailer, they will only work in the UK. It is possible to bypass the geographical blocking in some instances, but only by adding in a workaround of an additional VPN service which is usually subscription based. To compound matters recently the BBC has implemented a number of security measures including VPN detection – so not all VPN providers would work with BBC iPlayer.
Kodi – media software can be installed on the above devices, by modifying the original software (this will invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty), which will allow additional plug-in applications to scrape the internet to search on content you require. This can be used to find UK & European TV, but use is not simple ‘home consumer use’, can be complex to set up, with applications not always stable. Ultimately it is free, though many users abandon after a short while, as stability is hit and miss, sports are a known stability issue and there are simply no guarantees of service, as you are reliant on what is ‘freely available’ – support will be your own.
One of the main issues with the Kodi type systems is the reliance of the free content – often too many people try to use the same server (watching channel or stream at the same time) & as this is not monitored, often is overloaded – problems often occur, blank screen, stuttering picture and audio problems. Filmon (for the UK terrestrials) is no longer free and there are no official free available main terrestrial channels streamed outside of the UK, available on the internet.
Most home consumers, unless patient and technically minded, now do not generally use this type of equipment as simply not a case of turning on the TV and watching it! Multiple applications and updates, lack of stable software and not a defined as an ‘integrated solution’.
Software and functionality can differ between this type of equipment depending on how set-top box has been set up & also the specification of hardware – equipment available from €50-€250. It should be noted whether buying a €50 set-top box or a €250 one, if the freely available streams host is overloaded, reliability and stability will not be much difference between both options, whatever the cost of the hardware.
These systems generally require specialist setting up as are not supplied with required software for UK channel viewing & for initial set up is far more complex than most consumer products. Use of these is different user experience to a traditional satellite or cable receiver. Due to feedback from our long-serving customers, we now do not sell or support this type of hardware or hardware which support solely this solution as found too many issues, to recommend to the majority of customers.
Most people request a simple and reliable solution – IPTV usage wise, Kodi is the bottom of the list. Why? The obvious rule applies, if something is freely available & is unmonitored, then there cannot be any guarantees of performance or service – as no one is paying for anything! Any company offering ‘every last 3 pm football game’ for free or a one-off payment for the set-top box – is making false promises. You cannot promise anything on a subscription-free IPTV service, anyone doing so or making long-term promises, is providing incorrect information.
- No satellite dish required.
- Portable hardware solutions.
- Catch up services without VPN.
- Systems available for worldwide use.
- Multiple language options on same system.
- Multiple service package options, from
monthly to yearly. Applications available
for mobile devices.
- With the correct choice of hardware, simple to use
SUBSCRIPTION FREE IPTV SET TOP BOXES – PRO’s
- Quality slightly below satellite, which is the highest grade picture.
- Reliant on internet. No internet = no TV.
- For free to air TV, a satellite dish system long term is more economical.
- Hosted subscription costs. Average solution costs for stable services range from approx €12 – €35 per month. be aware that there are many resold (or overly sold) services on the internet which are cheaper, this is where instability and problems creep in. If you put twice the people on the same service, you can double your income, but halve your services stability, cheap is cheap for a reason – to limit users per server, costs and that is a factor in hosting costs. Be wary of Facebook groups or similar as not real or registered companies.
- Advisory warning – some service providers can put malicious software on the hardware if you buy directly from the service provider. You can ask before purchasing any service if you can have free access to the service portal URL – to change if you wish to change provider. If your provider does not like or accept this, it may mean they will try to stop you using the box with another service. Television Technology does not agree with such practices, if customers pay for a box, they are free to use it with any companies services.
SUBSCRIPTION FREE IPTV SET TOP BOXES – CON’s
Localised TV service rental schemes can cost over €300 per year per household – monthly subscriptions, usually around €25 or more per month + VAT / IVA.
There are companies which offer this type of scheme either with a satellite system or via rebroadcasting service, which uses local transmission mast to transmit to a small dish (20cm) on your roof – if signal available locally.
- Includes servicing
- Reduced or subsidised initial installation cost.
- Small dish – usually around 20cms.
- If rebroadcast system, quality below satellite & can suffer interference related issues due to nature of localised microwave transmission types.
- Expensive long term. €300 per year, after 5 years you would have spent in excess of €1500 to receive free to air TV. In many locations €300 worth of satellite dish bought and paid for, as a one-off – rather than rental), works out considerably more economical, as pays for itself in a year, or just over.
- Localised system, will not be available in many locations.
- You do not own hardware, as paying a ‘rental fee’
These companies use a local mast to rebroadcast the signal to a 20-40 cm dish or square mesh type antenna with a basic receiver. If you are offered these channels through a small dish, it will be from this type of ‘Rebroadcasting’ service. HD / 3D services & Dolby digital audio is not available with these type of systems as are a compressed and retransmitted signal.
Due to bandwidth restrictions a limited selection of the FTA channels are available with this service, some of these companies are offering subscription channels illegally from other service providers, with no permissions.
Using a rebroadcast service, you will be asked to pay an ongoing monthly subscription charge, usually between €20 – €35 per month for as long as you wish to use the service. Should the service be interrupted or stopped you will not get any refund of the system or installation charges.
Picture quality & resolution is lower than that of a direct service as the signal is compressed due to bandwidth restriction giving on average a picture resolution of 20% – 30% below a standard definition picture. Whilst this is less noticeable on a smaller television, as the screen size becomes larger this drop in quality becomes more obvious.
- Only a small dish required
Service included with monthly payments.
- Reduced installation costs, as subsidised with ongoing subscription payments.
- Compressed channel service, with variable picture quality – depending on location.
- Paying for free to air content, expensive over a period of time.
- Limited channel selection in comparison to Satellite & IPTV. Ongoing legality issues (below)
Potential closure due to the illegal content being shown without licenses.