At long last, the new generation of Freesat boxes have arrived. Not only are these beauties 4K compatible, but companies are promoting them as being able to record up to four satellite channels at once. Of course, this is a major improvement over previous models, which could only record two channels and required separate LNB connections for each.
As Stockport Aerial Installers, I have to admit that currently, I have no hands-on experience with this new generation of UHD Freesat boxes. Moreover, there is not a lot of technical information about them on the internet. Below, I’ve done my best to address some questions associated with these exciting new products.
What LNB will be required for these new Freesat Boxes?
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In an earlier blog post, I mentioned that Arris was given the manufacturing rights for all of the third-generation Freesat models. This seems to indicate that the company’s competitors (such as Humax) won’t be making boxes anymore. However, it’s worth noting that these new models will require a wideband LNB to be installed on your dish. If you have Sky Q, these should be similar to what you currently use. At the same time, some customers will be able to use a Hybrid LNB with two wideband outputs as well.
For a quick reference, I’ve listed the current LNB types and their compatible services. Keep in mind, however, that a Hybrid LNB will be compatible with all of them.
- Sky, Sky+,Freesat, Freesat+, Freetime: Universal LNB (Single, Dual, Quad, Octo)
- Sky Q, Third-Generation Freesat – Wiseband LNB
What is unique about Wideband LNBs?
Wideband LNBs were previously only used for Sky Q systems. They feature two separate outputs and separate different polarized channels into separate cables. This means that users must connect the system to their satellite receives using two connections. Otherwise, they would only receive half the available services / channels.
At the same time, this LNB is designed to oscillate signals down to a frequency of about 300Mhz. This is in stark contrast to Quad Style LNBs, which will normally only go as low as 950Mhz. The use of separate cables to provide separate channels and the extra available bandwidth means there is no need for LNB switching to access all the channels.
Ultimately, this means that users won’t need separate satellite connections for each specific tuner. This is how Freesat UHD models offer four tuners with only two cables being connected. Moreover, in the future, more tuners could be added (such as 6 or 8) without the need for extra cables.
Is the Freesat Wideband LNB compatible with my system?
To take advantage of the four tuners, the new Freesat boxes will require you to have a Wideband LNB. However, these devices may no longer be compatible with certain setups, particularly:
- TV(UHF)/ Sat (IF) combiners, diplexers, and triplexers
- TV/ Sat, Triplexed and Quadplexed Wall-plates
- Multiple Freesat boxes
- Multi-switch amplifiers
That said, I do have some solutions to these problems, which I will go over in the next few sections.
Solutions for TV/Sat Combiners:
It’s not uncommon for users to combine terrestrial TV services with satellite television signals and run them off the same cable or cables. In general, it requires less coaxial and lets users set up diplexed or triplexed wall-plates instead. However, these setups will no longer work with this new generation of Freesat models for the following reasons:
- Combiners only feature one satellite input, so you won’t be able to connect vertical and horizontal polarized services at the same time.
- The frequency range of the new Wideband LNB devices are roughly the same as those used for digital TV. This will cause interference and result in neither working properly.
Currently, the only real potential fix for this is to ensure that the terrestrial TV and satellite signals are split into separate cables. As we all get more experience with these new devices, I hope that more solutions will present themselves.
Solutions for Diplexed, Triplexed, and Quadplexed Wall Plates
As I mentioned above, the frequency range utilized by Wideband LNB will cancel out that of terrestrial TV services. The combined style multiplexed wall plates accept coax cables with signals that are already combined, and separate them before they reach your equipment. This won’t work with Wideband LNB, as – aside from Quad models – they only feature one satellite cable connection.
There are a couple of solutions, however.
- You can pull additional coax cables, so that satellite from the Wideband LNB and the Terrestrial TV are delivered separately. However, you may need to remove the equipment designed to combine those signals first.
- You can remove your current wall plates and replace them with Euro Modules that feature separate inputs for each different service.
Solutions for Multiple Freesat Boxes
If you have several different Freesat boxes serving different televisions in your home, you will need to disconnect your Quad or Octo LNB in favor of a Wideband model. Of course, this will cause those additional boxes to stop working. The only exception is Sky Q minis, which can pull a wireless signal from the main box.
To fix this, you can do several different things:
- Install a Hybrid LNB (in place of a Wideband model). Hybrid LNBs have two wideband outputs and four universal outputs.
- Install a second satellite dish. While this isn’t ideal, you could easily have one wideband LNB feeding your Freesat and one feeding your Quad or Octo.
Solutions for Freesat and Multiple Wireless Boxes
One of the main reasons Sky Q is so popular is that you can install multiple boxes around the house without having to use extra cable. Currently, there’s no way to tell whether or not Freesat is working on this. I’ve sent a request in to the company and will update this when I have a proper answer.
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