SAT DStv Report 96.11.12

A news release from Cairo, Egypt, located at 30.3 North - 31.15 East

- Overview 
- DStv in Egypt
- Installation of Panasat 520-D IRD
- Quality Report
- DX usability

As digital television is concuring now the world, the Middle East has
been one of the early adapters of this method of transmitting
broadcasting signals.

Being worldwide first on the market with a digital package, the ORBIT
Network, owned by the Mawarid group of Saudi Arabia, presents a premium
package of over 30 channels, providing movies, news, entertainment,
music and sports to over 23 territories in the Middle East and North
Africa. Expansions are in place for Europe. Very soon a nine channel
bouquet from STAR TV will be added to the package, broadcasted from the
Intelsat 703 satellite, located on 57 East. Pay-per-View is in an
advanced discussion status, details will be announced soon.

While early starters in  the digital market, ORBIT had to start
broadcasting in MPEG 1.5, using IRD's (Intregrated Receiver/Decoder)
from Scientific Atlanta, not compatible with the more recent MPEG-2/DVB
standard. The European services however, broadcasted from the Intelsat
705 on 18 West, are transmitted in MPEG-2.

Information on the Orbit Network: http://www.orbit.net/

Lately the 1stNet Network, ART and the, Viacom owned, SHOWTIME Network
build an alliance in order to open up more markets in the Arabic world.
All agreed on the use of a common transmission standard, using the same
Panamsat 4 satellite and coordinated their marketing strategies in a
single bouquet.

The package offers a widespread variety of channels: Arabic movies and
serials, classic and modern movies in English and Arabic language,
children programming and cartoons, general entertainment, Arabic and
western styled music, and sports.
All of the channels, exept MCM,  are not available for the Middle East
through analogue transmissions, at least not with standard reciving
equipment. Especially the ART channels has already huge numbers of
potential viewers, due to the previous analogue transmission throughout
the Middle East from Arabsat 1D-R on 20 East.

The advantage for the viewer is clear: Real additional channels to
receive, no confusion on which system to buy, one smartcard is
de-scrambling all offered services, no unnessesary insecurity if-or-when
the purchased system looses out against an other, there is only one good
choice who has it all.

Information on the 1stNet/ART package: http://www.art-tv.net/
Information on the Showtime Network: http://www.showtimearabia.com/

In Egypt there is unfortunately no choice to make between the ORBIT
offer and the 1stNet/ART/Showtime package. Orbit has, due to political
interests, no permission to sell subscriptions and IRD's to the local
market, equipment is restricted from importation. The sole distributor
for the other package is the, partly governement owned, CNE (Cable
Network Egypt).

CNE has been in the market for a couple of years, offfering a UHF
transmitted package, including M-Net, CNNI, K-TV, SuperSports, MTV
Europe and KTS Kuwait. A Delta 9000 Irdeto receiver/decoder could be
purchased freely. Subscription pricing is targetting the local market.
About two years ago Multichoice entered the Egyptian cable industry,
upgrading services, strenghtening marketing concepts and preparing
grounds for the upgrade to digital reception, which finally could be
presented in October 1996.

A basic bouquet, premium channels and the Showtime package can be
subscribed, although pricing is here targetted on the wealthier part of
the population.
Two IRD are for sale from several distributors: The Pace 500 and the
Panasat 520-D, both machines have been descriped in the Tele-satellit
magazines. I decided to test the latter, due to better variety in
connectivty, and the expected performance.

Out of the box, the Panasat 520-D comes in a slick designed black metal
casing, with remote control, batteries, a flylead, a scart-to-cinch
cable and the manual. The nescessary IRDETO conditional acces module
(CAM) is already inserted in the assigned slot on the back of the unit.
A smartcard, programmed with all available services free, for the first
14 days of use, is supplied in a sealed envelope.

The installation however, so easy as it looks, took me more than an
hour. The manual does not provide the user with any tips on how to
combine the IRD with an existing analogue receiver/positioner, especialy
not when it is wired up for DX use.

To combine it with my Chapparal MC115, Quattro Band/C-Band combination,
I had to go through several menus, changing the pre-sets.

In order to get to the installation menu, where all nescessary LNB and
freqency parameters are located, a security pincode has to be typed in.
The version, I have available, has the factory stored code: "0000",
other in South Africa sold units have the code "9949". After entering
the code another menu point shows up where to select "Channel Tuning",
the other option let's you set the UHF frequency for a fly-lead
connection to the TV. 

After entering the installation menu, four options are accesable:

	1) LNB Settings
	2) Manual Channel Tuning
	3) Retune with these Settings
	4) Signal Detection

Going to the LNB options menu, another four menu points appear:

	1) LNB power
	2) LNB type
	3) LNB frequency
	4) External Switch Settings

In order to make this IRD work together with my Chaparral MC115, whereby
the MC115 the dish positioning has to maintain (the Panasat is
delivered, as all present IRDs, without integrated positioner), I had to
switch OFF the LNB power on the Panasat LNB menu. The power supply to
the LNB is routed via the coax cable, which is divided, short before
being connected to the analogue and digital receiver, with an All Power
Through two way splitter.

On the analogue Chaparral receiver the correct dish position, LNB
selection and polarization are stored in a single channel space, which
itself is set to show an input channel, where the TV and Stereo sound
signals are fed in through a scart lead from the IRD. The monitor
connection is taken off the MC 115, no change made there.

I had to make the experience that if the LNB cable is connected direct
into the Panasat IRD, with LNB power ON, in my set-up, no signal could
be received. 

In the "LNB Type" selection menu the choices are minimal, "Standard
LNB", which gives then four options for the IF, and "Universal LNB",
which let you later acces only two settings for IF, namely the LO and HI
frequency split.
Here in Egypt, where the unit is ment to receive the signals of Panamsat
4, 68.4East, in the Ku-Band, I initially choose the Universal LNB
setting whereby I had to change the LO-IF frequency from 10.950 to 9.750
and the HI-IF from 12.750 to 10.750, according to the specifications of
my LNB. This can of course be different for every set-up, check the
specs of the used LNB.

Thereafter, going to the Manual Tuning menu point I found all parameters
already preset in order to receive the 1stNet, ART and Showtime packages
in one go.

	1)	Frequency		11649
	2)	Symbol rate		19638
	3)	Polarisation	H
	4)	FEC				7/8

All these parameters can be set individually, although I made the
experience that Symbol Rates under 15000 not are recognized by the
software. Also the frequency input accept only possible figures, e.g. it
is impossible to set the LNB Type to Universal and then tune in a C-Band
frequency, the data is not accepted, which is quite logic.

When switched on, and connected to the correct powered LNB, the unit
starts searching for a signal from the satellite, tuning in on the home
frequency (in this case 11.649 GHz), and when found it starts tuning in
all found channels automatically, even when they are coming from various
txpr and frequencies on the same sat, however only channels are
recognized belonging to the same package, e.g. same Symbol Rate, FEC and
polarisation. The whole procedure does not take more than 30 seconds, to
have all 23 active channels tuned in.

The quality of picture and sound is without a glitch, with the exeption
of the Egyptian channels, which most probably have been poor prior to
the digital up-link. Stereo sound is superb, where available. Black outs
and freezing pictures could never been observed. However in periods
where local inserted commercials are shown, very short hi-frequency
clicks can be heard, sometimes also available in MTV and VH-1
programming, inserted from tape. It must originate from the central
up-link control station, while it is never heard during normal

The on-screen info, which can be accessed thtough the remote control,
gives info for the running, and the following programme.

Presently one channel is reserved for programme listings for the
Showtime network for the present day, after 22:00 the programm for the
next day is running.

Programming of MTV and VH-1 is in the UK version, as are the txm of TNT
and the Cartoon Network. (Note: on the same PAS-4 satellite are the
Asian versions of MTV, TNT and the Cartoon Network still free analogue
receivable). The Paramount channel and Nickelodeon have localized
programme contents.

DX Capabilities
Various tests made with reception from Eutelsat satellites failed,
including from the present most powerfull in the Middle East Hot Bird 1.
I never have been able to tune in to any package, even when all
parameters had been set correct and an IRDETO coded signal was accessed.
The signal strenght is always below the accepted value.

For the record: Astra reception is of course out of the question.

To tune in the C-Band Multichoice package on the same Panamsat 4, the
LNB setting has to be changed to Standard LNB, 5150 GHz IF, and the
correct Symbol Rate, FEC and polarisation. After changing the settings
the menu point Retune with these Settings has to be activated. A few
security clicks are nescessary, then the unit is retuned with a new
channel line-up.

The reception of these channels however does need the possesion of a
valid smartcard, in order to de-scramble the signal. Without it, only
the channel information is displayed on screen, with the message Insert
Smart Card. At present time only a single Radio Channel can be received
freely, its the Voice of America, all recognized TV channels are

I was also lucky with the Arabsat 2A packages from ART on txpr 3, 12.563
GHz, H, and txpr 11, 12.720 GHz, H. Here a digital signal was
recognized, however a picture could not be received. As soon as the
signal was positive detected, the unit switched  his settings to tune in
to the parameters of PAS 4. I do not have yet an explanation for this
phenomenon. I guess there is a coded signal transmitted which gives the
IRD the order to stop tuning in, and look elsewhere (The official ART
package is transmitted from PAS 4).

For curiosity: tuning in to the ORBIT package on both Intelsat
satellites (57 East and 18 West) failed, as expected, no signal could be

All in all, as seen with other (D)Boxes, the present available consumer
systems are ment to receive a single package only, and are unsuitable
for the decent DXr, but I advise to wait with spending big bucks on
professional equipment, next year there will be enough choice in the
market to suit everyones needs, at an affordable price.

Watch the columns of Dr. Dish (Christian Mass), who regularely
investigates in this matter in the Tele-satellit magazine, via the
Internet pages, or in his monthly TV produktion on Kopernikus and soon
on a global beam on a Gorizont satellite.

(C) November 1996 / Henk C. Room

The reproduction of this report, in any form, is prohibited. Exerpts can
be made with the written permission of the author, who can be contacted
under hcroom@intouch.com
Send relevant infos and creative comments to: hcroom@intouch.com

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