Satellite and Digital TV Glossary

The digital world can be confusing. It’s littered with all kinds of strange words and acronyms. So we have produced this “Digital Dictionary” for you!!

New words and terms will be added as time progresses!

Analogue signal
The broadcast signal which delivers a few Spanish terrestrial TV channels (La1, La 2, etc) to your set via an aerial. In the UK it delivers just five TV channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5). Most if not all analogue TV signals will be switched off in the next few years for the transition to digital TV signals.

Aerial upgrade
If your rooftop aerial is particularly old or if you have a set-top aerial, you might need to upgrade your aerial to one that can pick up the digital signal in order to receive digital terrestrial channels.

Bit rate
The rate at which digital information is processed, typically 55Mbits/sec for satellite tv systems

Broadband / ADSL
Gives fast access to the internet through your phone line and allows the phone to be used at the same time.

Conditional Access Module, adapter to allow a receiver to take additional encryption system to those already buit into the receiver

The areas that can receive digital television. Not all the digital services are available everywhere.

Cable TV
Cable television is just what it says it is – TV pictures and sound sent through underground cables to your home. Many cable TV providers in Spain are similar to the rebroadcasters, and transmitting TV channels down their cables without the correct permissions from the TV channels themselves. ONO is the main Spanish Cable TV provider.

This stands for Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) – the DAB service is radios equivalent of digital TV. It gives interference-free reception and has room for extra stations as well as all the standard channels. You can receive DAB on personal, portable, tabletop or car radios. Digital radio stations are also received by digital TV set-top boxes and iDTVs (Integrated Digital Television).

Digital box / Digibox
This is required for watching digital TV – it sits usually on top of your TV (see set-top box) and unscrambles digital signals before turning them back into sound and pictures.

Digital signal
Television images are sent as compressed data which is then unscrambled by a digital box. The signal is sent by cable, satellite or through the air to your aerial. After switchover you will only be able to receive a digital signal.

Digital switchover
The process of switching over Spain (and the UKs and other countries)current analogue television broadcasting system to digital, as well as ensuring that people have adapted or upgraded their televisions and recording equipment to receive digital TV.

This means Digital Terrestrial Television – which is received via a rooftop aerial or set-top aerial. In Spain this is called TDT – Television Digital Terrestre and provides approximately 30 digital channels – La1, La2 Teledeporte etc, and many other TV channels that are not available via the analogue signals. In the UK, this includes the Freeview service (which includes the traditional terrestrial channels – BBC One, BBC Two, ITV1, Channel 4 and Five) and for an additional monthly subscription, Top Up TV.

This is a common abbreviation for digital television.

Download limit
The maximum amount of data you can download per month from the internet. This includes songs, films and photos. Even reading emails and simply browsing the web will eat into this limit (but only by a tiny amount). If you or your family do a lot of downloading, then you will need a broadband service with a high download limit, or even unlimited downloads.

Download speed
This is a measurement of how fast data can arrive at your computer from the internet. The higher, the better (but it is usually more expensive).

Stands for Electronic Programme Guide – an on-screen listing of TV channels and programmes. You can use one to go to the programme you want, or to select something to record.

Fair usage policy
This is a policy used by some broadband suppliers to restrict the download speed of your connection at certain times of the day. Downloading very large amounts of data (films, for example) can slow down other peoples broadband connections in your area. This is because many houses may share the same access point in the local telephone exchange. So in order to keep things fair the broadband supplier may restrict your usage at peak times.

The antenna coverage pattern which a satellite directs toward the earth. This defines the geographic area in which signals can be received. Many satellite operators publish footprint diagrams to indicate what size of dish is required depending on where reception is required within the footprint zone.

The main UK digital terrestrial television service, transmitted through an aerial. No subscription is required. See also Top Up TV and DTT.

Meaning Free-To-Air – or in other words a programme or service that you do not need a subscription to get.

High Definition Television – a new technology that enables viewers to receive higher definition television pictures. HDTV has four times as many pixels (dots on the screen) as standard TV broadcasts, meaning a clearer picture and stunning detail on large-screen TVs.

Integrated Digital Television – a TV with a built-in digital receiver which lets you receive digital channels through your aerial with no need for an additional digital box. It can refer to either a conventional cathode ray TV or one of the new flat panel TVs.

This covers off all ways of interacting with a TV broadcast to get more information – a bit like an extension of the traditional Teletext service. For instance, you can select and watch a particular tennis match from a multi-screen selection, find out more information about a TV programme, cast a vote, or take part in a quiz. Accessing interactive services is usually done via the red button on your remote control

IPTV is a method of receiving TV via the internet and your router. UK IPTV is geoblocked for rights purposes, so a thir party IP address proxy or VPN will be required to “bypass” this blocking.

Low Noise Blocker. The LNB is the component located at the end of the arm projecting from the satellite dish. It converts the Ku-band signal beamed from the satellite to a 3.7 – 4.2GHz signal, then filters out low-end frequencies and amplifies the high-frequency signal before sending it to the LNB coaxial output(s).

A technique for allowing several channels to be transmitted on one transponder on the same frequency

Television standard, used in North and Central America and Japan. Jokingly refered as “Never The Same Colour”

Television standard invented in Germany, used in the UK and most of Europe, Africa, Australia, and South America

Pay-per-view (PPV)
This is an additional one-off payment for a particular film or sporting event on satellite or cable/internet TV.


PVR stands for Personal Video Recorder. This is a device that records programmes to a hard drive (like a computer does) instead of to a video tape or disc. Programmes you want to record can be selected directly from the on-screen EPG. Many suppliers such as Sky and Freesat have PVR functionality integrated into their set-top boxes.

This is merely a way of delivering or receiving digital TV. Typical platforms are terrestrial, cable, satellite and the internet.

Rooftop aerial
A television aerial on the roof of your house.

A satellite, as you are probably aware, is a space-enabled craft, the function of which is to bounce signals of all kinds around the globe, since the signal can not pass through it. Satellite TV is sent from the source to your dish this way.

Satellite dish
The dish on the side of peoples houses that picks up programmes that have been transmitted and bounced off a satellite.

Satellite TV
Programmes received by the dish on the side of your house.

“Syndicat des Constructeurs d’Appareils Radiorécepteurs et Téléviseurs”, a French developed Standard and connector for connection audio and visual devices to a television.

Set-top aerial
An aerial on top of your TV.

Set-top box

A kind of digital box that sits on top of your TV set, unscrambling the digital signal.

The rotation of the LNB to achieve the correct polarisaion

Stands for Set-Top Box. See also digital box.

See digital switchover.

Terrestrial TV
TV transmissions – analogue or digital – that are broadcast over the air directly to your TV aerial.

A combination of the words transmitter and responder, a device on the satellite that receives a signal and at the same time transmits a corresponding signal at a different frequency

Video cassette recorder – the machine on which you have probably been recording and playing tapes for years. It can be used to record analogue or digital TV but records in fairly low analogue quality.

Stands for Video on Demand – which means you (usually) pay a fee for films and programmes you want to watch and then you can watch them when you want (and usually any number of times within a set time period – just like going to the video shop without leaving the house). There is usually a large library of films or programmes to choose from. A similar system, sometimes referred to as NVOD (near video on demand), is the Box Office service offered by Sky where you can choose from a small number of films, though you may have to wait up to an hour for your film to start.

The ratio of the width to the height of the TV picture is 16 to 9 – often called 16:9 format. Nearly all major TV channels now make and broadcast their programmes in this widescreen format. Older programmes were in the narrower 4:3 format. If set up correctly, your TV and set-top box should display the picture on your screen in 16:9 or 4:3, as appropriate for the programme.