Yes. The new free-to-air VAST service is now operational!
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This is a significant breakthrough in the provision of digital TV services to all Australians, particularly for those in remote and regional areas who for many years have had to put up with less choice than people in the cities.
- The new service will provide digital TV services to viewers in eastern Australia who cannot receive terrestrial digital TV.
- The agreement is between the Australian government and broadcasters Southern Cross Media and Imparja to establish a joint venture company, Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST).
- Ensures access to free-to-air television for viewers in the remote Central and Eastern Australia licence area
- It includes those in regional and metropolitan areas, who are unable to receive their local TV services terrestrially, will also be able to access the new service.
- The new VAST service will for the first time make available to all parts of Australia the same number of channels as are available in the capital cities.
- This includes programming in standard definition from the Seven, Nine and Ten networks and their new digital channels GO!, 7TWO and ONEHD, as well as all of the ABC and SBS channels, including ABC2, ABC3 and SBS TWO. The VAST service will also provide HD channels.
The service will be broken into 3 areas
- Northern service will operate in northern time zone, providing standard definition services for viewers in Queensland and the Northern Territory based on Brisbane time.
- Southern Service will operate in Southern time zone providing standard definition services for viewers in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania based on Sydney time.
- The HD services will be provided in a combined zone, covering both the northern and southern zones.
- A satellite service for Western Australian viewers, using the same Optus platform, is currently under negotiation with the remote area commercial TV licensees in Western Australia (Prime and WIN Television).
- Viewers of the satellite service will be able to watch their local news services through a dedicated news channel.
- State-based ABC and SBS news services would also be available on their respective channels.
The availability of the new satellite services are linked to the timetable of analog switch off, with services already being provided to the Sunraysia area and Spencer Gulf of SA.
As remote Central and Eastern TV viewers are outside licensed areas of other broadcasters, these remote area viewers will be able to convert to this new service on December 15, 2010. Arrangements are being put in place to include out-of-area registered customers.
We are also led to understand that travelers to this region will also be provided with a process to register.
All new satellite set-top boxes on delivery will be already configured to receive the ABC and SBS services including the ABC2 and ABC 3 etc and HD ABC and SBS services.
To access the VAST service, viewers will need to purchase a new satellite set-top box with an access smart card, a satellite dish and cabling.
Existing Aurora customers will only need to purchase a set-top box and card at RRP of $269.00 including GST plus a short cable or power divider, provided their existing satellite equipment is functioning correctly.
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Please download the 6-page PDF below for more detailed information.
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