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.

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.

International Satellite TV – 3m C-Band Dish Installation

3m satellite dish

In this case study, we will outline a recent project we completed in Sydney’s CBD for a long-time client to upgrade their C-band satellite dish. We also outline the options available for customers to receive free international TV channels by installing a C-band satellite dish.

3.0 Metre Satellite Dish Installation

The building manager at this 50 storey apartment building in the middle of Sydney’s CBD called Nu Life TV Antenna to provide a free quote to fix international Chinese TV channels at their building. With a large number of international occupants, the building had received over 10 Chinese TV channels for many years. 

Following recent bad weather (possibly including hail), it was clear that the existing mesh satellite dish was damaged beyond repair. There were a number of holes in the mesh and the arms supporting the LNB had been broken loose.

Nu Life TV Antenna provided a free quote to replace the damaged dish with a new 3.0m heavy duty mesh satellite and a new dual output LNB with an in-built 5G filter. Once given approval, Nu Life TV Antenna completed the physical installation within 1 week, which was an exceptional turnaround given the only 3.0m satellite dishes in the country had to be shipped from interstate.

A 3.0m satellite dish is a big dish! The 2 man team that completed the installation was able to make use of the existing dish mount (not damaged) and one existing cable run to the headend in the communications room on the level below. 

3m satellite dish LNB
3m satellite dish LNB
Chinese TV Signal Readings

Distribution To Apartment Building Occupants

Once the physical installation was completed, the QPSK to COFDM Terra transmodulators were required to be re-programmed. Given the previous installation used an ‘OCS LNB’ (ie a One Cable Solution used to stack Vertical polarity transponders on a higher Horizontal frequency), the new Dual Output LNB delivered Horizontal and Vertical polarity transponders on separate cables.

With a new cable run completed, the input frequency on the Terra tdx311c modules (part of a Terra MMH3000 headend) were adjusted to ensure all channels were restored and multiplexed into the building’s existing SMATV system.

Using the building’s existing RF distribution equipment (also used for a KU band and digital Free To Air TV), the Chinese TV channels were integrated and distributed to all TV points in the 50 storey building. 

In this case, the C-band dish was pointed to the AsiaSat 6B satellite, which is located at 115.5° East, with the satellite dish Azimuth & Elevation from site: 308° & 35°.

Channels received with the modulators provided included:

  • Fujian TV
  • Hunan TV (multiple channels on the single transponder mux)
  • Shanghai Media Group
  • CCTV (China Central Television) channels CCTV 2, CCTV 17, CCTV 10, CCTV 11, CCTV 12, CCTV 15, CCTV 4 Asia, CGTN, CGTN Français, CGTN Español, CGTN Russkij, CGTN Arabic, CGTN Documentary
  • Henan TV
Chinese TV Transmodulators
Chinese TV Transmodulators
Terra tdx311c Modules

Free International TV Channels

Whilst it has been more popular in years gone by, there are still a large number of unencrypted free TV channels available to receive via satellite. There are C-band satellite dish channels and KU-band satellite dish channels available to anyone based in Sydney (or Australia for that matter).

Without providing a full list, LyngSat provides a relatively up to date list of all channels that are able to be received. At the time of writing, this list includes channels from the following countries:

  • China
  • Korea
  • Indonesia
  • India
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • France
  • Russia
  • Many other channels available
If you are interested in supplying some or all of these channels to the residents in your building, in the majority of circumstances Nu Life TV Antenna can make use of the building’s existing RF distribution infrastructure to ensure the channels can be delivered to all occupants at a very affordable cost.

If you would like to learn more, feel free to give us a call or send an email outlining your requirements and we will provide you with the various options available to suit your needs.