UK and BBC Channels on Intelsat 901 at 27.5 West – SATBACK – formally Intelsat 907
Arqiva, who operate the UK Freeview service on behalf of the UK broadcasters, are leasing a transponder on the Intelsat 907 satellite located at 27.5 degrees West.
In a deal signed in April 2007, Arqiva will use IS-907 to feed the signal to 90 main transmitter sites around the UK.
The service is known as “BBC-Satback”.
The BBC Satback service on Intelsat 907 satellite is used for “emergency back up feeds” for the UK Freeview system, should the Freeview mast relay service lose its feed from their parent transmitter.
Contrary to all the rumours, this service is not used for military purposes, nor is it part of the BFBS which operate on other satellites. It is also nothing to do with UK TV for Gibraltar, or satellite TV providers for Gibraltar, and the satellites are not located over Gibraltar, despite what some installers of this system say. As Gibraltar is not part of the UK, but an Overseas Territory, the UK broadcasters have no obligation to provide broadcast to Gibraltar.
On Intelsat 907, the BBC Satback service carries the following UK TV channels : BBC One, BBC 2, BBC Three, BBC Four, CBBC, Cbeebbies, BBC News and Parliament, ITV1 HD and Channel 4 HD.
These UK TV channels on Intelsat 907 – BBC SATBACK are encrypted, and there are no viewing cards available to the public to access these channels. To access the UK TV channels on Intelsat 907 – BBC SATBACK you need to have a compatible satellite receiver, and the encryptions codes to enable you to hack (read illegally access!) into the encrypted content.
The reception of this Intelsat 907 satellite in Spain, is very strong, and could easily be received in most of Spain on an 80cm or 1m satellite dish.
One thing to mention is that it will be interesting to see what happens with the BBC Satback service in 2016 or so. Intelsat 907 was launched on the 15th February 2003, with an expected lifespan of 12 years. So what will happen with the BBC SATBACK system now that the Intelsat 907 satellite is coming to the end of its operational life? Will there be a new satellite the BBC SATBACK system can move it to? Will the BBC SATBACK service be moved to a satellite with a much harder to receive “UK spot beam”? Or will the BBC SATBACK system simply be discontinued? One thing is for sure, this is something the installers of this system are not mentioning to their clients who are paying for the system to be installed.
UPDATE FEB 2019: Intelsat has updated their “Estimated End Of Life” expectancy for I907 to Q1 2020. This is official and direct from Intelsat (as opposed to an “expat intelsat TV” facebook page that says that “new licences have recently been granted yet again taking it up to around 2024/5” – what license ???)
UPDATE OCT 2019: Looks like Intelsat 901 will be moving to 27.5 West to take over Intelsat 907 operations, after 901 has been tested with the “Mission Extension Vehicle, or MEV” Intelsat successfully launch their “Mission Extension Vehicle, or MEV” for their old satellites – Major Intelsat 907 News for BBC Satback at 27.5 West. We currently have no idea what reception of I901 will be like for the Satback service here in Spain. It could be the same, better or even worse. Until I901 is in place no one has any idea.
Update > Intelsat confirmed that Intelsat 901 took over Intelsat 907s operations on the 2nd April 2020. ( https://www.satandpcguy.com/2020/04/17/intelsat-901-has-taken-over-intelsat-907-operations-at-27-5-west/ )
Intelsat 907 – BBC SATBACK in Spain
With the launch of new UK TV satellites, Astra 2E, Astra 2F and Astra 2G which has resulted in a loss of BBC ITV and other UK TV channels from many areas of Southern Spain and Western Spain, areas like the Costa del Sol, Andalucía, Gibraltar, the Canary Islands and Portugal, some satellite TV installation companies have been offering this Intelsat system as an alternative for reception of UK TV.
An 80cm satellite dish is the minimum sized satellite dish required to receive the UK TV channels on Intelsat 907 – BBC SATBACK in Spain.
Intelsat 907 – BBC SATBACK Frequency
These channels are located on the Intelsat 907 satellite, frequency 11495 Vertical with a symbol rate of 44100.
BISS Code Encryption
Not all satellite receivers are able to work with this system, as they may not be able to handle the unusually high symbol rate
These Channels on Intelsat 907 at 27.5 West are encrypted using in BISS encryption. Some satellite receivers have been able to open the encryption using “codes” from the internet. Note : Inputting codes into a receiver to hack into encrypted feeds is illegal.
The codes for the encryption can be changed at any time. This may be for a short time until the codes are known again. Or it can be forever, if they change the encryption system totally, to the more professional and “unhackable” encryption system.
This changing of the BISS Keys for the channels on BBC SATBACK on Intelsat 907 at 27.5 West is something which makes this system unreliable. This loss of channels when the keys change is something which some retailers of this system do not mention to their clients!.
And with the recent loss of BBC and ITV channels in some areas of southern Spain and Portugal, some installers are offering this system to their clients…without telling them of the pitfalls and potential loss of channels using this system. More here : https://www.satandpcguy.com/blog/2014/02/loss-bbc-itv-spain-portugal-beware-magic-solution-another-satellite/
Receivers for Intelsat 907 – BBC SATBACK
Receivers that can be used with the Intelsat 907 – BBC SATBACK service can be found HERE
Interesting to see that during mid October 2016 these webpages were being linked to by Arqiva on their private forum (http://connect.arqiva.local/forum/messages.aspx?TopicID=2425 ) – perhaps they are about to do something to make the system secure …? Would appreciate it if someone at Arqiva could send me any information about the future of this service – many thanks!