Specifications to Look for in a Satellite Receiver

Posted By Tom Feltham on 08 May 2014

Posted in Used Equipment Buyers Guides

Like with all technical equipment, there’s a certain amount of nomenclature that a buyer needs to understand in order to make an informed decision prior to purchase. Here are some of the basics that will help you make your choice:


FTA simply means 'free to air', and that the satellite receiver is capable of decoding free-to-view channels. Receivers branded as such are not enabled to view content from subscriber networks.

DiSeQ Switching

This means that the satellite receiver can work with certain satellite equipment to tune in to more than one signal source. To use this type of switching, special motorised dish equipment must be used, as the signal sources are in physically different places (usually denoted by degrees of latitude).


These designations explain what kind of signal the satellite receiver can decode. A digital signal consists of a series of 1s and 0s, while analogue signals are continuously varying signals.


Some channel providers encrypt their services, and the type of encryption will vary with the service. Generally the satellite receiver box will have decryption built into it, and be sold by the channel provider.

C A Module

Some receivers provide the ability to access subscription services. To avoid piracy of such services, a physical card is used to enable them.  The ‘C A’ in C A module stands for 'card access' or 'conditional access', and devices with this ability can easily be used to access paid-for channels. However, there are limits to the number of cards that can be used at once.

NDS VideoGuard

A higher level of C A module, this is a widely used standard of encryption. A device coming with NDS VideoGuard is easier to enable for many different services. Of course as with all subscriber services, the module will only be enabled after the provider is paid.


This indicates that the receiver has a built-in hard disk recording facility, enabling the user to record broadcasts without the use of external disks or tapes.