The most obvious difference between Freeview HD and Freeview Satellite is the transmission medium. Freeview HD is a digital terrestrial transmission (DVB-T) broadcast from a land based transmitter. In the case of the Manawatu area, from the Wharite transmitter. Freeview Satellite on the other hand is broadcast from a satellite (DVB-S) in geo-stationary orbit (it rotates with the earth), located in the Clark’s Belt some 30,000km Northish (156 degrees true North to be exact). In order to receive terrestrial signal, a UHF aerial is required, of the same type as used to pickup analogue TV channels such as Maori and Prime.
Due to the land based nature of the Freeview HD system, and the limitations of UHF signals over a distance, location plays a great part in whether you can receive Freeview HD. If you’re too far away from the small number of transmitters around NZ, or have too many obstacles for the signals to pass through, you will be unable to get reception. Satellite on the other hand is available to all parts of the country and most outlying islands.
The terrestrial broadcast of Freeview HD allows for far greater amounts of data to be broadcast, allowing for High Definition pictures. Satellite broadcast on the other hand has limited bandwidth, and the choice was made early on to opt for more channels rather than High Definition broadcasts. All Freeview Satellite channels are broadcast in Standard Definition (SD).
Freeview HD – You need to be located in an area with a transmission tower that is broadcasting the digital signals (Wharite for the Manawatu). A UHF aerial is needed that receives these signals at an acceptable level and quality. Lastly a DVB-T receiver is needed – either in the form of a separate Set-Top-Box, or built into the TV as is becoming more common now.
Freeview Satellite – To receive Freeview via the satellite, you will need a satellite dish greater than 50cm in diameter, correctly aligned to the Optus D1 satellite. This is the same satellite used by Sky, so a Sky dish can be used. A DVB-S receiver is needed, these are not interchangeable with the DVB-T models, and currently no TVs that we are aware of in NZ have them built in.
All of the mainstream TVNZ and Mediaworks channels are available on both systems, but some of the regional and smaller channels are only available on either the terrestrial or the satellite system due to cost restraints. Check the Freeview HD channel list against the Freeview Satellite channel list to see which channels are available on each.