Technology of satellite television
Direct broadcast via satellite
Television receive-only
Early history of satellite television
Beginning of the satellite TV industry
TVRO/C-band satellite era
1990s to present of satellite television
History of Freesat
Video on demand
Reception equipment of satellite television
Technical details of satellite television

Technical details of satellite television

Freesat broadcasts from the same fleet of satellites (Astra 28.2ŠE) as Sky. Channels are broadcast using DVB-S. Freesat's role is not broadcasting or availability of channels (although the BBC and ITV are substantial broadcasters in their own right) but instead providing a platform for receiving the channels and the EPG.

All of the standard definition channels on Freesat are broadcast using DVB-S; ITV HD, NHK World HD and RT HD also use DVB-S. BBC One HD and BBC HD used DVB-S until 6 June 2011 when the satellite transponder carrying them was upgraded to DVB-S2. Channel 4 HD had launched using DVB-S2 but the transponder was downgraded to DVB-S on 28 March 2012. Standard definition channels are broadcast using MPEG-2, while high definition channels are broadcast using MPEG-4. Interactive television is done using MHEG-5 rather than the proprietary OpenTV platform used by Sky. Channel 4HD will no longer be available from 22 March 2018.

The specification for Freesat boxes includes having an Ethernet port. This is to allow on demand programming from services such as BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub to be viewed directly on the customer's television.

Open standards and technologies form the basis of Freesat's second generation Freetime receivers, including those from the Open IPTV Forum (OIPF), the Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) project and HTML5 browser technology, with the majority of the Freetime user interface built using the latter.

The Freetime spec also includes features such as: DiSEqC 1.2 support; MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance) support including single cable routing; HTML, JavaScript and CSS internet technologies for broadband-delivered interactive services; DRM for online content; and payment mechanisms for broadband services like LoveFilm. James Strickland, Freesat's director of product and technology development, explained that Freetime is a hybrid between HbbTV and MHEG-5.