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Saorsat: Ireland’s Freesat launches to reach the two per cent without a TV aerial

Irish broadcaster RTÉ has launched Saorsat, a free satellite TV service for the two per cent of the country who can’t get the Saorview digital terrestrial TV service.

The service broadcasts RTÉ One, RTÉ Two HD, RTÉ News Now, RTÉjr, and RTÉ One+1, mimicking RTÉ’s line-up on digital terrestrial TV.

‘Saor’ is Gaelic for ‘free’, and the two services are loosely based on the UK’s Freeview and Freesat, delivering free TV to 98 per cent of the population by a standard TV aerial, and the final two per cent via satellite dish.

Unlike Freesat, Saorsat doesn’t share satellites with the very popular Sky pay-TV service at the Astra 2 location.

Instead, it’s on Ka-Sat at 9°E, about 19 degrees to the West of the Astra 2 satellites, although an experienced installer can get both on the same dish. There’s a coverage checker at http://coverage.rtenl.ie/.

It also uses the new Ka-band frequencies, which need a more expensive dish system than Sky or Freesat. You’ll also need one of the official Saorsat set-top boxes listed at Saorsat.ie.

Unlike Freesat and Sky, Saorsat is transmitted on a very small satellite footprint that doesn’t reach far beyond Ireland, so UK reception is unlikely outside west Wales, the Isle of Man and the north-west coast of England.

On the bright side, Ka-Sat also hosts 10Mbps two-way satellite broadband services which ca be picked up on the same dish, and are expected to rise to 50Mbps later this year.

Saorsat boxes like the Triax TSC114 HD above are expected to cost around €180, with a dish and Ka-band LNB €35 each.

Ireland’s analogue terrestrial TV service will be switched off on October 24, 2012. 

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