If you’re growing tired of Sky TV’s monthly subscription fees or just looking for a general change, you’ll no doubt start looking for reliable alternatives to the services. One great option here at TV Aerials Stockport like to recommend is Freeview, a terrestrial service delivered right to your home via aerial. Another is Freesat, which is essentially the same but makes use of a satellite dish instead.
Of course, there are always things to consider when making a switch like this. In this article, I’ll attempt to provide you with all the information you need.
Look at What Freesat Offers
Most people that use Freesat are perfectly happy with what the service offers, but that doesn’t mean everyone will be. So, before you do anything else, I’d suggest checking out the channel guide on Freesat’s website to make sure it’s worth it to you. Generally, you’ll find over 100 channels, including BBC, Channel 4, ITV, and even a selection of HD channels. What you’ll find lacking are movie, sports, and music channels. However, if you absolutely must have these, you can always consider a supplemental service like BT Vision or Netflix.
Cancel Your Subscription to Sky
If you’re happy with what Freesat offers, your next step will be to go ahead and cancel your Sky subscription. This can be a rather lengthy and difficult process unless you take a lot of joy speaking to customer service. Remember, when you sign up for Sky TV, you sign a contract for a specific amount of time. For this reason, it might be prudent to wait until your current subscription expires before making the switch.
It’s also not uncommon for Sky TV to offer you the world to keep you from cancelling. If you’re relatively happy with the service and just don’t want to pay as much, this could be a great opportunity to reduce your costs and keep enjoying the platform.
Other Services to Consider
In many cases, Sky will bundle phone and broadband into its service package. For some people, the potential loss of these services will make give them pause. The best thing to do is run some numbers on how much it would cost you to get both services from other providers if you switch to Freesat. If the numbers add up, you can make the switch with confidence.
Keeping Your Dish
Luckily, just because you’re switching from Sky to Freesat doesn’t mean you have to change your satellite dish. In fact, you won’t even need to alter its alignment. However, if you had the Sky Q service, you will need to make a change to your LNB, as that one isn’t currently compatible with Freesat. To make it easy for you, here’s a list of LNBs and the services for which they are compatible:
Universal LNB (Quad and Octo): Sky, Sky+, Sky+HD, Freesat, Freesat+
Wideband LNB: Sky Q
Hybrid LNB: Normal Sky, Freesat, and Sky Q.
Returning Sky Equipment
With the older Sky services, you would end up owning the equipment after a year’s time. In the case of Sky Q, it’s entirely possible they might want their expensive equipment back when you cancel. In most cases, however, this will not include the satellite dish. In fact, in over a decade of doing installs, I haven’t heard of one instance in which Sky wanted a dish back.
Using Your Sky Box for Freesat
A lot of customers ask me whether or not they can use their Sky box to navigate Freesat. This isn’t always a “yes” or “no” question, however. You can use your old Sky box for FTA satellite TV, but not for Freesat. This is because the latter uses its own programme guide and numbers, and won’t pick up all of the free-to-air services you normally find on satellites.
Now, if you currently subscribe to Sky Q, you definitely can’t use your box to navigate Freesat. As stated above, it’s highly likely that Sky will want their equipment back when you cancel, as it is quite a bit more expensive than the equipment used for their other services.
Finding the Right Freesat Box
I usually recommend just going out and purchasing a Freesat box in order to ensure that you’ll have access to all the associated features. Though this will require a monetary investment, it will be nothing compared to a few more months of paying for Sky service. These boxes generally vary between £50 and £300 depending on their features. Below, I’ll outline a few things you’ll want to consider before buying any model:
- Do you want recording capabilities? Freesat boxes that allow you to record usually cost a bit more. You can also find boxes that are branded with “Freetime.” This feature allows you to scroll backward through your programme guide to watch shows that aired earlier in the week.
- How much recording space do you want? Freesat boxes will offer you anywhere between 500GB and 2TB of space. For reference, you can safely assume that 500GB will net you around 300 hours of standard definition storage and about half that for high definition.
- Do you want catch-up services? In order to have access to BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub, you might want to avoid the lowest-priced Freesat boxes.
- Does the manufacturer matter? In most cases, I recommend Humax boxes whenever possible. If you don’t have the budget, however, you can always select a Bush or Manhattan box as well.
Sky Playback and Freesat
This feature was eliminated when Sky Q was introduced, but older sky boxes still have it. If you have your older boxes lying around, you can actually still use this feature with Freesat. However, you’ll need a modulator to convert the Freesat box into a digital or analogue TV channel. You’ll also need a special device to power the remote eyes that enable you to interact with boxes in other rooms. This isn’t something that beginners should be setting up, so don’t hesitate to contact a professional here.
I hope this guide has proved helpful to you. As always, don’t hesitate to contact me at the information below if you have any questions.
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