VAST. Satellite Digital TV.

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1 VAST (Viewer Access Satellite Television) Satellite Digital TV. Compiled and written by Ronald H Tew of The Wandering Tews Issue 7, 22 nd January Web site: Web sites to check For information about and activation of VAST. for a map of coverage area for central and Eastern Aust. VAST coverage. for activation form for travellers.

2 VAST Satellite Digital TV. (Viewer Access Satellite Television) The Australian Government is funding a new satellite service to provide digital television to viewers in Australia who are unable to receive terrestrial television services. This new service is called VAST (Viewer Access Satellite Television). I have, as of 21/01/2001, obtained access to the VAST system under the category of a traveller and am now enjoying viewing all the digital channels available in any capital city. The procedure I used to obtain access is as follows: (As is explained further in this document). 1. Make a purchase of the dedicated Decoder. 2. Carefully read the instructions with the Decoder. a. You must already have the dish tuned into Optus C1, as this Decoder will not give any indication of signal levels until after signal detection and channel scanning, so a tuning meter must be used. b. LNB settings must be checked. 3. All cable connections were made to the Decoder, and the set was powered on. a. At this stage the decoder automatically searched and tuned in all allowable channels. b. All ABC and SBS channel in all time zones in Australia were now watchable. 4. Apply for activation of your VAST Services card by visiting I applied for a travellers connection in SA. 5. After I submitted the online application for SA area, as this is where we would be travelling, a download from the satellite commenced, I then went out for dinner and when I returned all digital channels for SA were activated and watchable. Before going to the web site, and, or the details listed below, it might be an idea to read the following letter that I received from a reader of my web site: For travellers like myself pay particular attention to the Grey Nomad section. Thanks to Glenn Welsh for providing the following information. Ron, I have read some of the information you have published on your web site about the new VAST satellite television service. However there are a number of issues you should be aware of before recommending rural communities rush out and install a VAST decoder and install a satellite dish. A little back ground first. In most rural townships across Australia where there is no broadcaster provided

3 television service, rural councils have installed 'Self-Help' television repeater sites under the federally funded Black Spot program several years ago. These 'Self-Help' sites allow anyone with a television and domestic antenna to access the transmission from these sites (intended for their own immediate community). At present a 'Self-Help' site already has one or even two large satellite dishes and several professional satellite decoders within the site itself. The signal is downloaded from the C1 or D1 satellite and fed into low power terrestrial analogue transmitters. This way all homes, commercial properties and even caravans can simply put an antenna up and get a signal, even simple rabbit ears work. The signal from a satellite is effectively digital already, however the 'Self-Help' site has analogue transmitters and the signal is therefore being broadcast as analogue. In the very same way, the satellite decoders at these 'Self Help' sites could be replaced with VAST decoders. The analogue transmitters could be replaced with affordable low power digital transmitters and a two digital multiplexers and then anyone in the areas currently serviced by a 'Self-Help' repeater who has a $60 digital set top box (not a satellite decoder) or a digital TV would have the full suite of 17 digital television channels. All residents, commercial properties and caravans would have no problem accessing a good digital signal this way with very little expense. HOWEVER. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS PROMOTING THE VAST SYSTEM (Viewer Access Satellite Television) The Federal Government have told rural councils that they no longer have to worry about maintaining 'Self-Help' repeater sites as the VAST Direct-to-Home satellite television service is being implemented. However there are many issues and costs that are being ignored. Firstly, the cost of a single VAST decoder will be $269. Add to this the cost of a satellite dish from $100 to $300 (size depends on where you live). Add to that the cost of installation say $200 - $300 and a resident will then have a minimum outlay of $569 - and that's just for one TV. And you have to remember that the resident will probably be putting their new VAST box on their existing analogue TV. So they spend a minimum of $569 and will still be watching analogue quality TV. But what if there are three TV's in the home or more? Well then they will need three VAST decoders. But it doesn't end there. If the home has television cabling installed then it will have at least one splitter feeding the signal from one roof top antenna to several outlets in the home. A TV splitter is a 1000MHZ splitter whereas distribution of a satellite signal from the dish requires a 2500Mhz splitter, about $50 for the splitter and say another $100 installation. So more installation, more parts and more cost for the resident. So conservatively we are now up to around $1,257 - and now three TV's will have analogue versions of the digital channels. Yes there are $400 subsidies and this may increase if the resident lives in Far North Qld or an aboriginal community. So what if the resident wants true digital clarity and superior sound? after all that's why we all had to move to digital in the first place. In that case they will have to buy digital televisions with a HDMI socket (High Definition Media Interface). The VAST decoder has a HDMI output socket so the resident can plug that into their new digital TV. So rural residents get hit with a double whammy. They need both a VAST decoder and a digital television if they really want true digital picture and sound quality. OK so now what about those grey nomads in their caravans. Well their TV's simply won't work because the local 'Self-Help' repeater is no longer operating. So they too will have to have their own VAST satellite decoder and a dish. However each VAST decoder is matched to an access card called a smart card - similar to the Aurora smart cards now. These travellers will also require a satellite finder so they can reposition their dish to receive the satellite signal whenever they stop. There are several ways to do this

4 1) install a fully automated and motorized satellite dish and automatic finder which sells for around $5,000 and are typically found in expensive motor homes. 2) install an automatic satellite finder - without a motorized dish. From enquiries I have made these retail for around $2,000. 3) Use a satellite signal metre (between $100 - $500) and adjust the dish by hand every time the traveller stops somewhere. Or you could argue that the grey nomads will simply plug their antenna cable into the caravan parks amplified antenna system. Sorry, television antennas are useless remember as the 'Self-Help' repeater has been switched off. So the caravan park itself has to install a satellite dish, 16 VAST decoders (one for each channel) a minimum of two digital multiplexers and digital signal modulators. Minimum anticipated cost to the caravan park $25,000 before including labour. How many caravan parks do you think will do this? And the same applies for every Hotel, Motel, Retirement Village and school in rural areas where the 'Self-Help' repeater has been switched off. Many of these businesses will simply go without as it will be too great an expense for them to afford. There are many councils who don't realize that their 'Self-Help' sites can be upgraded to digital. Many other councils would like to simply upgrade their sites to digital at their own expense as this is the cheapest and most effective option for residents, hotels, motels, caravan parks and travellers. However the Federal Government is making it very difficult for them to do so. So the VAST solution creates more issues than it solves. Kind regards. Glenn Welsh The following information has been obtained from the web site below and is a direct copy of the same. so if the URL s included don t work go directly to the web site. The content on the web site is constantly being updated so what I have printed below might vary slightly between updates of this document. This web site gives information on eligibility and activation details for VAST TV. For fellow travellers category 4 under Am I eligible for VAST gives details for connection to VAST for travellers. (The URL provided at this section is the only area travellers need to go, other eligibility URL s need not be used for travellers). Receivers can be purchased from several retailers, I used Digital TV from Satellite - The New VAST Platform Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) will provide digital television to viewers in remote areas of Australia who currently rely on analogue services from the Optus Aurora platform; as well as viewers who are unable to receive digital TV through their normal antenna because of issues relating to local interference, terrain or distance from the transmitter in their area. Am I eligible to get the VAST service?

5 The VAST service can now be accessed by eligible viewers in all states except for Western Australia. The WA start date will be announced shortly. ABC and SBS services are available now without restriction in all locations outside of WA. Access to Commercial TV services is subject to an eligibility test that takes into account commercial television licence areas and availability of conventional terrestrial television services at your location. There are four categories of viewers eligible to access Commercial TV on VAST 1. Viewers in the Remote Central & Eastern Australia Licence Area: View Map 2. Current Satellite Viewers outside the Remote Central & Eastern Licence Area: these viewers currently watch satellite television and have special permission ( out of area approval) for the existing analogue Aurora satellite services because they are in a television black spot 3. Viewers in regional and metropolitan areas served by normal terrestrial TV services but who are unable to receive TV after digital switchover. As digital switchover rolls out across Australia, regional and metropolitan viewers who will not be able to receive television after switchover can apply for VAST access 6 months prior to switchover. More information here 4. Travellers: people travelling in caravans or motor homes in Remote Central and Eastern Australia are eligible to apply for temporary access to Commercial TV on VAST. Click Here for Travellers Application If you are not eligible to receive commercial TV services on VAST, you are still able to receive ABC and SBS in all states. For more information on how to access ABC and SBS only please Click Here How do I get access to VAST? To receive VAST you require an approved VAST set top box and satellite dish. Access to the service is controlled by a smart card which is supplied with the set top box. To access VAST you will need to register your details including your address, reception location and smart card number. If you want to check your eligibility for VAST or register your VAST set top box please click on the link below. This is an automated on-line process that will give you information about terrestrial digital TV services in your area as well as VAST service information. Follow these steps on the site to check eligibility or register your set top box. 1. Enter your address and post code in the search address field and click Go 2. Your location will be marked by a pin on the map. If its not in the correct location drag it to the correct spot and click Refresh 3. Select the Satellite Eligibility tab to display information about recieveing VAST at your location 4. If you have a VAST set top box and wish to register it, follow the prompts in the information window. For help with the general VAST application process Click Here If you are currently an "Out of Area" Aurora satellite viewer and need help with the application process Click Here Yes - I would like to register or check my eligibility

6 When is VAST going to be available in areas other than Remote Central & Eastern Australia? Viewers who are eligible to access VAST services outside the Remote Central & Eastern licence area can do so from the following dates: Check If I Am Eligible Region Digital Switchover Date VAST Access Available From Mildura/Sunraysia 30 June 2010 Now Regional SA & Broken Hill 15 December 2010 Now Regional Victoria 5 May 2011 Now Regional Queensland Date TBA in Second Half Months before Switchover Date Regional Southern NSW Date TBA in First Half Months before Switchover Date Regional Northern NSW Date TBA in Second Half Months before Switchover Date Tasmania Date TBA in First Half Months before Switchover Date Perth Date TBA in First Half Months before Switchover Date Brisbane & Gold Coast Date TBA in First Half Months before Switchover Date Melbourne Date TBA in Second Half Months before Switchover Date Adelaide Date TBA in Second Half Months before Switchover Date Sydney Date TBA in Second Half Months before Switchover Date Darwin Date TBA in Second Half Months before Switchover Date Remote Western Australia Date TBA in Second Half 2013 TBA What channels are available? Southern Cross Media and Imparja are broadcasting the full range of digital commercial television channels in standard definition (with programming from the 7, 9 and 10 networks) and the high definition channels One HD, 7mate and GEM. VAST also provides all the standard and high definition channels from ABC and SBS. The local news content from regional broadcasters is also available on a dedicated local news channels exclusive to VAST. What Equipment do I need Anyone wishing to access VAST will need to purchase a VAST approved satellite set-top box and a satellite dish of at least 65cm diameter. Access to this new satellite service is managed by a smart card which is supplied with the satellite set top box. To access VAST you will need to register your details including your address, reception location and smart card number to enable access. Satellite set-top boxes are now available from authorised distributors. Altech UEC are the initial supplier and distributor of these boxes. Sales or technical enquiries can be made directly to UEC by calling (02) Where can I obtain further information about the new satellite and digital switchover? The Government has established a national information telephone line and a website to provide advice and assistance to viewers in the transition to digital television. The Digital Ready Information Line operates seven days a week from 8.00 am to pm (AEST) on free-call number The Digital Ready website may be accessed at For further information regarding registering your smartcard for VAST, please call

7 Notes:-

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