When areas of southern Spain and Portugal lost access to the free to air signals carrying BBC and ITV due to the changes in satellite footprints caused by Astra replacing their old satellite with new satellites, some expats turned to the Intelsat 907 and BBC SATBACK system to continue to receive their UK TV channels.
Essentially the BBC SATBACK system is run by Arqiva and is there as an emergency back up should the links for the Freeview TV system in the UK fail. If there is a failure in the Freeview distribution network, then the main UK TV channels can still be transmitted on Freeview by using these satellite feeds instead.
The BBC SATBACK system is not for public use, and is therefore encrypted. Therefore to use this system expats have to illegally hack into the system.
But this is not an entirely secure type of encryption, and the BISS keys to unlock and gain access to these feeds can be found on the internet within hours of a BISS CODE key change.
There have been constant rumours that this system would change its encryption system, to a more secure encryption system but so far nothing has happened.
( More details of this system can be found at http://www.satandpcguy.com/Site/intelsat_907_uk_tv_channels.php )
However, if you have or are thinking of getting this BBC SATBACK system installed, there is something you should consider before parting with your money (some installers charge over 250 euros for the installation and some a monthly charge to change the codes if and when they change).
Intelsat 907 was launched in 2003 with a expected lifespan of 12-13 years.
So the satellite is coming close to the end of its life.
Which begs the question “What will happen to the BBC SATBACK system expats in southern Spain and Portugal are using for their UK TV viewing?
Will Intelsat replace the existing satellite with a new satellite?
Will the BBC SATBACK service continue on that new satellite?
Will the BBC SATBACK service continue on that new satellite but using a much harder to receive beam?
Or will the BBC SATBACK service simply discontinue?
I would not be surprised if many of those satellite installers selling this BBC SATBACK system don’t know this either, so neither will their clients. But any competent installer should know this, and so should be advising their clients of this before they have the systems installed.
At least if you read this blog, and you use the BBC SAT BACK Service on Intelsat 907 at 27.5 west, you are now aware of the changes that will be coming in the next few years for this system.