Launch of Foxtel iQ5 Requiring Antenna Input

Foxtel iQ5 Box

Foxtel have officially launched the long-awaited iQ5 streaming box.

If you are an existing Foxtel subscriber, we take a detailed look at what this means for you.

Existing Foxtel Cable Subscriber

If you are currently a Foxtel subscriber that uses the underground or aerial cable network in your area to receive your Foxtel signal, this is going to be a mandatory upgrade for you.

Foxtel have foreshadowed that their services will be kicked off the Cable network in July 2023, so you have around 18 months to switch over to the new iQ5 box. This is why Foxtel have announced only certain customers are currently eligible for the ‘iQ5 pre-release’, prioritising the following subscribers:

  • Existing cable customers who will need to migrate off their cable service by July 2023
  • Existing cable customers who want to upgrade their box but cannot have a satellite dish installed
  • New customers who haven’t been able to access a Foxtel service as they couldn’t have cable or satellite installed at their house

Your choice will be to receive the signal to the iQ5 box by either satellite or internet (ethernet cable or WiFi). 

Whilst you should be OK to get the service over the internet, our recommendation is to pay the small additional fee (~$100) and get the satellite dish installed. This will give you flexibility to get the signal by either internet or satellite, and will mean you can still watch your favourite channels, even when there is an nbn outage in your area or the other members of your household are clogging up the internet connection.

Note that Foxtel have already flagged that to get live free-to-air TV channels, you will need an aerial installed and connected via the antenna input located on the back of the iQ5 box.

Given there are an estimated up to 500,000 subscribers using Foxtel Cable, this will be a huge task and expect there to be a rush on upgrades towards the start of 2023.

In the context of a block of apartments or multi-dwelling units (MDUs), it would be best to start planning earlier rather than later. Many Foxtel subscribers still do not have an internet connection and so expecting all Foxtel subscribers in the building to swap over to iQ5 (without a satellite signal source) may not be a viable option.

Existing Foxtel Satellite Subscriber

Existing Foxtel subscribers that receive their service over satellite will remain largely unaffected. You will have the option to upgrade to the iQ5 box (not immediately), but otherwise you can keep your satellite dish and infrastructure installed as is.

The big advantage to an upgrade to iQ5 for you will be access to ‘iQ software enhancements’ and streaming apps (although you probably have access to these already if you have an Apple TV or any smart TV). You should already have access to Foxtel’s 4K channels, so there is nothing new announced on that front as yet.

Again, you will need a TV antenna installed and connected to the back of the iQ5 box to receive the full array of digital free-to-air channels available (and not just the subset sent to your satellite dish). A free-to-air technician will be able to assist you with this setup.

The upgrade option will be available to you ‘later this year’. Given the teething problems experienced with the release of the iQ3 and iQ4 boxes (check out Product Review for some scathing reviews), our recommendation would be to wait for those teething problems to be sorted through. You have little to gain by getting an early upgrade.

New Foxtel Subscriber

If you are considering subscribing to Foxtel as a new customer, the iQ5 box definitely provides an easier installation option for you compared to previous versions (which have required a technician to conduct the installation on the most part).

However, there are other options available. Even other options provided by Foxtel. According to the new Foxtel price guide, the basic Foxtel Plus Bundle is $49 per month, plus equipment fees ($199 for the iQ5 with the Hard Drive), plus connection fee, and a fee if you don’t return the iQ5 box (ie you don’t own the box).

With most smart TVs these days allowing you to download an array of apps or by purchasing an Apple TV, you could subscribe to Foxtel’s own Binge and Kayo for $35 per month combined. This would also eliminate another pet hate of Foxtel subscribers, no advertisements!

It remains to be seen as to whether the new iQ5 streaming option will actually provide any significant advantage over the other long list of streaming only options available in the market today (eg Netflix, Stan, Stan Sport, Binge, Kayo, Amazon Prime, etc).

Free-To-Air TV Channels on Foxtel

As we have referenced numerous times, the iQ5 box will still require a free-to-air technician to install a new TV antenna or connect your existing TV antenna to the iQ5 box. This is the case if you want to receive all live free-to-air channels.

Whilst Foxtel Cable and Foxtel Satellite receive a subset of free-to-air channels (not via a TV antenna), to get all live channels, an antenna is required. 

And to get any live channels using streaming only on an iQ5, you will need a TV antenna.

If you require any assistance with TV antenna installation, call the experts on 02 9549 0082. One of our friendly call centre staff can organise a free onsite quote to look into your individual needs.

Analogue to Digital Modulator Upgrades

Resilinx Quad HD Digital Modulator Foxtel

TV reception in Australia has undergone a huge upgrade over the last decade. Starting on 30 June 2010, analogue TV transmissions from TV towers across the country started getting turned off. At the same time, digital TV transmissions were being broadcast and now gave almost all houses in Australia access to Digital TV. 

Without going into all the benefits of Digital TV, we now have the ability to view higher quality transmissions and much more content in the way of more channels that are available using the same spectrum (RF frequencies).

This upgrade to digital was a time-consuming, and sometimes difficult task. Buildings were required to be re-wired, MATV headends needed to be upgraded and in some instances new antennas or set top boxes needed to be installed to ensure a reliable digital picture and audio was received on TVs.

Many aged care centers, hospitals, hotels, pubs and clubs had other services also broadcast on analogue transmission. Some of these services include Foxtel channels, in-house broadcasts, digital signage, projector screens, radio channels, CCTV cameras, and more. To this day, we still see many analogue modulators in use, yet to be upgraded to digital.

If you are considering upgrading to digital modulators, find out more information below. 

Why Upgrade From Analogue to Digital Modulators

The main reasons you would want o upgrade from analogue to digital modulators are as follows:

  1. Better picture and audio quality
  2. More reliable reception
  3. No need to switch input sources from ‘Digital TV’ tuner to ‘Analogue TV’ tuner
  4. Digital TVs may not have an ‘Analogue TV’ tuner
As a result of the above, in some circumstances you will not receive any picture or sound as a result of running an old analogue modulator. In this case, a digital modulator is vital to being able to use the services you are modulating.

In other circumstances, a digital modulator will provide a better end user experience. From removing ‘static’ or ‘shadowing’ caused by poor reception performance and balancing, through to not having to use your remote to change input sources from digital to analogue so you can view Fox Sports. Digital modulators provide a better end user experience and a more reliable reception performance.

How Many Input Sources Do You Need?

Digital modulators come in many different shapes and sizes. You can get rack mountable modulators, base units with multiple cards to add more services as you expand, and you can get ones that just sit on top of a shelf.

Generally speaking, quad input modulators are rack mountable and as the name suggests, they support modulating 4x services throughout your MATV system. There are also single input modulators, and the more rare 8-input modulators. Beware that 8-input modulators are sometimes more expensive than 2x 4-input modulators, simply due to the fact that manufacturers and suppliers can move a higher quantity of quad input modulators.

In case you want to add more services at a later date, sometimes it is beneficial and more cost effective to get an extra input source in your modulator, so you are setup for the future.

SD, HD or 4K - Check Your Input Source

Modulators also come in High Definition (HD) or Standard Definition (SD). You will want to match the modulator quality with the quality of your input source. There is no point installing a HD modulator to distribute SD Foxtel services. The modulators do not usually include any sort of ‘upscaling’ technology, so you are limited by your input source in this instance.

In order to check your input sources, if you are getting RCA connectors coming out of your input source (for example, your Foxtel box), this is typically an indication that you are inputting Composite Video Baseband Signal (CVBS). Composite video is a video signal format that carries standard-definition video only (480i or 576i resolution). In this case you can stick to an SD modulators.

However, if you are getting your signal from a HDMI cable, then there is a high likelihood that your setup is able to distribute HD signal. After all, HDMI stands for High-definition Multimedia Interface.

It was not always the case, however, these days there is very little difference in the way of pricing between SD or HD modulators. So, if you can afford the little bit extra, we would probably suggest the HD modulators.

Finally, the latest modulators on the market are able to distribute 4K signals. 4K signals are even better quality than HD, with resolutions usually shown as “3840 x 2160” on 4K TVs. 4K modulators are at a higher price point than SD or HD modulators, however, in the right circumstances, they can give a very sharp picture quality for pubs and clubs that want to broadcast sports on large screens or projectors.


MPEG stands for Moving Pictures Experts Group. They are the body responsible for the standards used for video encoding. TVs will be either MPEG2 or MPEG4 compatible. Thankfully most new TVs sold today are MPEG4 compatible, however, some older TVs are still MPEG2 only, which can cause us issues when using modulators.

If a TV is MPEG2 only, then it will not be able to process an MPEG4 video signal. However, if a TV is MPEG4, it is generally ‘backwards compatible’ and so will be able to process an MPEG2 signal. As a result, if you are upgrading an existing site with many TVs and you do not know each and every model of TV, then we would recommend installing an MPEG2 modulator. It is the safe option.

Foxtel Approved Modulators

Given that many modulators are used to distribute Foxtel channels to multiple TVs in a TV system, Foxtel’s technical team have looked into the modulators on the market and given a number of them their stamp of approval. As a result, there are only handful of modulators in the market that are ‘Foxtel Approved’.

When using modulators to distribute Foxtel services, if possible, it is recommended to use Foxtel Approved modulators to ensure complete compatibility and seamless integration.

Digital modulators are very affordable in this day and age, and there are often very cost effective solutions to get your analogue modulators upgraded to digital. For a high quality digital quad input modulator, expect prices to start from around $2,000 (including parts, installation and commissioning). If you are getting multiple quad input modulators installed, then the pricing can become even more attractive. 

There are many different brands of digital modulators, including Zycast, Kingray, Terra, Hills, Resilinx, Fracarro, and more. Each have their own benefits and can be used in specific use cases.

When upgrading from analogue to digital modulators, we would also encourage customers to enlist the services of their experienced MATV installation. There are many areas that can go wrong when performing such an upgrade and an experienced MATV company like Nu Life TV Antenna will be able to ensure you get it right the first time, with minimal downtime to end users. 

Send us an email or talk to one of our friendly call centre team members today on +61 2 9549 0000

MATV Headends – Foxtel TDT Systems

Foxtel Astro TDT

Foxtel signals can be integrated with Free To Air channels using a number of different technologies. One Foxtel Approved system that is popular at large Multi Dwelling Unit or other large multiple outlet facilities is called a Foxtel TDT System. This system allows for Foxtel Satellite signals and Free To Air TV signals to be combined onto the one cable (coaxial or fibre) and broadcast to many TV points within the one building or precinct. 

What is a Foxtel TDT System?

TDT stands for “Transparent Digital Transmodulator”. TDT systems are used extensively throughout various countries in Europe, and also used by Foxtel in Australia.

A Foxtel TDT Headend converts Foxtel Satellite (DVB-S or DVB-S2) signals to Cable (DVB-C), using QAM modulation. After this conversion takes place, Foxtel channels can be broadcast together with Free To Air TV channels over the same single cable. As a result, it gets described as a ‘single cable solution’.

A Foxtel TDT System will comprise the following main parts:

  • Foxtel Approved 1.2m Satellite Dish
  • Foxtel Approved Quad LNB
  • TDT Headend (Base Unit, Twin or Quad Cards, Power Supply)
  • Distribution Amplifiers
  • Splitters and Taps

Beware that all parts used in a Foxtel TDT System should be Foxtel approved, in accordance with their latest Foxtel Approved Product List.

In addition, given that there are sometimes software updates and setting changes required, Foxtel have made it compulsory that all TDT systems are to be part of a maintenance agreement under a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with a Foxtel Endorsed Installer in order to ensure these updates are made in a timely fashion.

Nu Life TV Antenna maintain many Foxtel TDT Systems under SLAs with building managers throughout Sydney, providing a cost effective solution to buildings and precincts.

Spaun BluBox

Spaun is a German manufacturer that produces a Foxtel Approved TDT Headend. The Spaun BluBox comes in a number of different models, including the following:

  • Spaun BluBox 8/16
  • Spaun BluBox 32
  • Spaun BluBox 32v1

See below for an image of a Spaun BluBox. Nu Life TV holds limited spare parts for Spaun BluBox systems.

Spaun BluBox 32 TDT Headend

Astro TDT Sat-Headend

Astro are another European manufacturer that make a Foxtel Approved TDT Headend. The Astro TDT Headend also comes in a number of variations, including:

  • Astro V16 SAT-HEADEND
  • Astro V16.3 SAT-HEADEND
  • Astro V16.4 SAT-HEADEND
See below for an image of an Astro TDT Headend. Nu Life TV holds limited spare parts for Astro TDT systems.
Astro TDT Headend

Terra S2C Box

Terra’s S2C Box is the third Foxtel Approved TDT Headend. S2C stands for “Satellite to Cable” of course. It can be found in the following two varieties:

  • TERRA 32 Channel TDT Headend (S2C box Terra)
  • TERRA 16 Channel TDT Headend (S2C box Terra)
See below for an image of a Terra TDT Headend. Nu Life TV holds limited spare parts for Terra TDT systems.
Terra S2C box TDT Headend

If you have a faulty TDT system, or are looking for a reliable maintenance service provider at a very affordable price, feel free to contact Nu Life TV Antenna to discuss options for your Foxtel TDT System.