There are too many variables to give much more than a rough cost guide for the installation of an Integrated Reception System ('IRS') with access to both Sky & international satellite services. It is assumed that all previous antennae systems will be replaced. Cable TV have legal rights to maintain their services as an alternative and are left undisturbed, except, perhaps where the CableCo has used existing feeds into an apartment: these may be used to the tenant's wishes provided they are of adequate quality i.e. double-screened cable of approved specification.

The main variable, after establishing there are no useable conduits, is whether or not the block has external drains. If 'yes' then the flat cable feeds are usually tacked neatly to the external walls. If 'no' it is likely that aesthetic considerations dictate another approach; that is to surface-wire internally.

The other decision is whether to install two or more satellite feeds into the apartment. Most systems have one but two is preferable for the PVR function of the Sky+HD box. Three co-axial cable feeds to the main viewing point should be considered for luxury high-end developments as this would enable Sky to be isolated from the `international“ General Satellite Receiver ('GSR').

NB: A solution called the Single Cable Router ('SCR'); has been adapted by Sky for its system- this enables two Sky+HD boxes to be connected in series in separate rooms by one cable to give each box fully independent operation, including the PVR function. Another simpler solution uses one cable carrying multiple signals is the Global Stacker/De-Stacker- it enables faster channel changes than the SCR but can cater for only one Sky+HD box.


The table below is a guide:

	  Estimated Cost* per Flat excluding VAT for Blocks with 40 to 150 units.

				      One Sat Feed	  	      Two Sat Feeds (Recommended)

	External Flat Feeds    		    250	              		    400

	Internal   "    "                   350    			    500
* these costs assume ideal cable runs; adverse block design may increase cost substantially.
NB: These figures exclude VAT, Managing Agents; Consultants' fees.

These figures must be considered against both Sky's 2013 annual subscription for 'a full TV package' (excluding extras like 'multi-room', broadband & initial discounts) which has now reached over £800 pa and a flat's annual service/maintenance charge or monthly rental.

An IRS with Sky & International TV services is often more expensive per flat than single dish/user installations; hence the Eastern European apartment blocks with a sea of dishes on their Southern fascade - not unknown in Greater London on local authority managed blocks.


For more information:

E-mail: info@sats4flats.co.uk

There are several blocks in Central & NW London where 'Integrated Reception Systems', as described above, can be demonstrated with the permission of the respective managing agent.

This website deals with the requirements for block systems which combine international satellite TV with Sky, Freesat, terrestrial Freeview & DAB Radio & analogue FM Radio.

Block systems requiring satellite TV from Sky & Freesat without international TV are a routine installation task for approved Sky installers & even Sky itself.



Tenant Issues

TV & PC Connectivity


-A Sky+HD box & a 'general satellite receiver' can share the same feed provided a special 'relay switch' (ie Schwaiger SUB 6020) is used to `split“ the cable to each receiver. A standard IF 'loop-through' fails as Skyboxes are always 'on' even in standby.(i.e. the IF inputs are supplying voltage for updates). To operate, one receiver is in 'stand-by', the other 'on' or vice-versa. The IF input 1 (viewing channel) on the Sky+HD box is connected to the 'relay switch'. The user must keep the general satellite receiver in standby if the Sky+HD box is to be used normally or if both of the.Sky+HD box's tuners are used to record separate programmes..

-The Sky system requires Sky receivers to receive updates at least 4 times per day over the air through the dish to maintain, inter alia, an up-to-date Electronic Programme Guide ('EPG'). If one or two updates are missed due to the use of a 'general satellite receiver', there maybe a slight delay in updating the EPG on activating the Sky receiver. In practice, this is not a noticeable problem provided the 'general satellite receiver' is in standby when not in use. Experience has shown that users adapt to this routine as they highly value the ability to access international channels. Sky+HD boxes are unaffected as they receive updates from either of their two IF inputs. However, the Sky HD Mini-Box has only one tuner & may miss updates for a few hours. Similarly a Sky+HD box used in 'single feed mode' may have delayed updates.

-A large Integrated Reception System (`IRS“) is often constrained by cost & physical cable management to a “9-wire“ backbone; one is for all terrestrial services; four each to Sky & international satellite services. To maximise international channel choice, two of the international cables are dedicated to extended upper-band Astra 1; two to extended upper-band Hotbird.(ie 11550 to 12750 MHz in each case). The missing lower-bands i.e.9750 to 11549 MHz; can be 'spliced-in'; by creating virtual satellites- 'HB Low'; 'Astra 1 Low' - in the lnb set-up menu of the 'general satellite receiver'. The relevant transponders are added to a receivers menu software & scanned.

A tenant has to request these missing services. The extra installation is not usually considered part of the landlord's 'offer' & may have to be funded by the tenant.

e.g. One or both of these virtual satellites are matched in the receiver's lnb setup menu to the relevant DiSEqC v1.1 'uncommitted' command. A Spaun SUR211F relay, inserted in the relevant co-axial feed to the flat, is used to stream these bands from the relevant quattro lnb's low-band outlets via a 5 input multi-switch so a number of tenants can benefit. Alternatively, where only one or two feeds are needed, individual switches, relays etc can be a substitute for a multi-switch.

The background to this arrangement, besides the geographic difficulty in some large systems of having a 17x WF165 Coaxial Cable backbone, as mentioned above, is that the TV/Radio services below 11550MHz were not favoured by broadcasters. 'HB Low' had a narrow interest range of services, now improved. 'Astra 1 Low' had many 'bandwidth hungry German-language' analogue TV services which ceased in April 2012. This released spectrum is now used mainly for German 'free-to-air' HD channels.

*NB: Spaun & Fracarro produce `17-wire“ backbone switches which allow full access to channels from 4 orbital positions. The cabling for larger systems- say, 200+ points- may require a `17-wire“ backbone which is a complex undertaking especially if heavy cable (ie WF165 coax cable) is required for long run lengths. In 2009 Spaun introduced '13-wire' backbone switches for 3 orbital positions. Another development is the introduction of fibre optics for lnb feeds by Global Invacom.

-Channel Access Delays ('CAD') occur with most 'DiSEqC' 1.0 receivers connected to an 'option' switch*- required to seamlessly add an orbital position. Receiver software is often incomplete from that recommended by Eutelsat for its open-source 'DiSEqC' code. The discontinued Humax HDCI-2000 has no excessive CAD's**, unlike many other 'general satellite receivers'. Icecrypt, Technomate & Topfield's receivers have DiSEqC v1.0 & DiSEqC v1.1. All three overcome 'CAD' with a robust 'uncommitted' command. The Spaun SUR 211F & SUR420F relays respond to this 'uncommitted' command. The latter can be used to access 256 polarities! A theoretical maximum at any location in the Ku band is only about 30 usable satellites (ie upto 120 polarities). See Icecrypt, Technomate & Topfield.

*CAD's do not occur with the common 1in/4out DiSEqC v1.0 switch as used to select between 4 universal lnb's on, say, 1 or 2 dishes. In an IRS, the 'option' switch is in a chain, or 2 levels, as defined in the DiSEqC protocol, CAD's occur- see above & below.

**the HDCI-2000 avoids CAD's probably by sending the relevant DiSEqC 1.0 command twice, not once, for each 'channel-change' command. This may slightly slow the 'channel change' by a few milliseconds; some magazine reviewers rate 'channel-change' speed as if the receiver was in a competitive game. NB: CAD's can take 9/10 seconds- clearly unacceptable on a multi-switch system- however a 'single-user' moving dish set-up takes just as long to trundle between its furthest East & West positions on the arc .