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VAST Satellite Western Australia

V.A.S.T. (Viewer Access Satellite Television) is set replace the existing “Aurora” satellite television system used by many travellers. So what does this mean for those of us currently receiving our television from Aurora?

Some background
Aurora RABS (remote area broadcast system) was funded by the federal government to address the inability for terrestrial (land based) television systems to deliver services to those living in remote areas. Travellers needs were addressed long after the inception of Aurora, and were really just an add-on.
VAST will replace Aurora and aims to bring the same content that is available to capital city dwellers, to people living in remote locations (including access to high definition programming). Its availability has been tied to the terrestrial analogue transmission turn-off. This is in part to address the differences in the coverage / reception of digital vs analogue transmissions (ie “you shut down analogue and now I get nothing!”).

 

Firstly the bad news…

  • You will have to buy a new decoder (set top box)
    The new service will not be accessible on any existing decoder and currently the only approved devices are the rather pricey and function poor UEC decoders.  This is particularly bad news for people with automated satellite dishes with built-in decoders!
  • You will have to buy a new smart card (these now come with the decoder).
    Your existing Aurora card will not function for this new service. This new card will (electronically) lock it’s self onto the decoder and will not function in any other decoder (and the decoder will not accept any other card).
  • The system will be controlled in the same way that the existing Aurora system is in terms of eligibility and availability of channels.
    ie – you will only be able to see WA channels when you can prove you are in an area of WA not covered by digital terrestrial transmissions. ((06/01/11)This is NOT the case for travellers)

 

And now the good news

  • The existing Aurora satellite system will not be shut down until at least 2013.
  • Travellers can now apply for access to the VAST system online at www.mysattv.com.au/travellers.aspx. Completing this application will get you 6 months access. Access can be renewed every 6 months (you need to do it 4 weeks before it is due to expire).
  • You do not need to state the intended travel plans when making the application as a traveller.
  • The new system features high definition versions of some channels.
    If you have a high definition capable television, you will get pictures of a much better quality.
  • Additional channels will be available (some in HD)
  • The system is broadcast from the same Optus C1/D3 satellite – no change is required when positioning your dish.
  • A recent announcement has suggested that existing users of the Aurora system who currently reside in an area that allows them to receive Imparja and 7 Central  (not travellers) will be able to simply transfer their Aurora registration to VAST – no questions asked (you still need to buy the new decoder and card of course). No limit is placed on the number of cards/decoders a single address can register.

You should be aware that information is still quite sketchy and what is available could possibly change (however the decoder is already available for purchase – so information about the decoder and card will not change).

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