Satellite TV Systems

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For viewing TV programming in addition to the standard Italian and local analog channels, one of your best bets is digital satellite television. Receivers and antennas are widely available in Italy, and you can use these to receive a wide multitude of programming - but unfortunately ever more programming requires some type of decoder.

To keep things simple, your best bet is to suscribe to the (one and only) satellite TV service in Italy: Sky TV. Part of the Sky group belonging to Mr Rupert Murdoch, it is the one and only provider in Italy. The nice thing about Sky is that you can toggle to Original Language (95% of the time English) soundtracks for all non-Italian programming (which is just about everything). Sky offers several packages to pick from, which will fit most tastes. From time to time they have special sign-up specials. For starters, if you have a friend that already has Sky, he or she can get a free month by getting you to sign up. The nice thing is that you too get a free month. And at the large Hypermarkets like Auchan, there are often offers for "free installation" if you sign up in a certain period.

Another alternative is FastWeb. This is state of the art TV, internet, and telephone all in one. But it's not yet widely available since it requires fiber optic cabling - only in key areas of the larger cities. With this you can get some of the Sky programming, as well as some interactive features.

Besides Sky, there is still some programming that you can get for free with a digital satellite receiver. There are two main satellites that transmit over Europe that are relevant for Italy: Astra and Hotbird from Eutelsat. Actually, these are groups of satellites, with Astra more oriented to German and northern European programming, and Hotbird to southern and eastern European programming.

One more alternative for more varied English programming is to get a UK satellite decoder. In principle, UK satellite services (Sky, for example) are not formally available in Italy. But the signals are there in the air - you just need the tools to be able to receive and decode them. In theory, you have to be a resident of the UK. Since we are living in Italy, the solution is a company that I came across: Sky Cards UK. Not only they send you the card, but also send you the sat receiver which is specially designed for the "interactive" part of Sky UK programming. Another alternative is the Sky TV Satellite Hosting Service.


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