Is your DStv dish too small?

DStv subscribers that have made use of an installation voucher likely have a dish smaller than the size recommended by MultiChoice.

“MultiChoice recommends that subscribers use the biggest dish possible, preferably 90cm,” the satellite pay-TV operator said. “However, a smaller dish such as a 60cm dish will work fine for an installation that will only receive a Standard Definition (SD) signal.”

Asked whether a user with a 60cm dish that plans to upgrade from SD to HD should upgrade their dish as well, MultiChoice said that it recommends an 80cm – 90cm dish for installations where a High Definition (HD) signal will be received.

The R599 voucher from MultiChoice for standard definition installations includes a 60cm dish, while the R759 HD installation voucher includes an 80cm dish.

This means that both the SD and HD installation vouchers offered by MultiChoice include dishes smaller than the recommended 90cm.

In simplified terms, a larger dish improves signal quality, which results in better signal resilience in bad weather.

Dishes as small as 60cm will therefore work, even for receiving HD broadcasts, but may not provide a good enough quality signal to handle interference well.

The strength of the signal received also varies depending where you are in South Africa. The graphic below from Intelsat shows that central SA enjoys slightly higher signal strength than the rest of the country.

IS-7 South Africa Ku-band beam diagram
IS-7 South Africa Ku-band beam diagram

MultiChoice explained that their recommended dish size specifications don’t change for different locations in South Africa.

However, according to founder Hennie Pretorius, subscribers should take the satellite transponder’s footprint into account when selecting an antenna.

Pretorius, who posts on MyBroadband as Delevex and on the DStv forum as HennieP, also explained on his site that dish sizes among different manufacturers aren’t necessarily uniform for the same dish specification.

He showed that of three 60cm satellite dish kits bought from major suppliers, Space TV and Ellies provided dishes with similar dimensions while Samsat’s Sammeg dish is significantly smaller.

Space: 66cm horizontal x 59.5cm vertical; Elsat: 65cm x 60cm; Sammeg: 58.5cm x 54cm
Space: 66cm horizontal x 59.5cm vertical; Elsat: 65cm x 60cm; Sammeg: 58.5cm x 54cm

MultiChoice didn’t comment on what it considers an acceptable margin of error for dish sizes, but did say that it is important to note that clear signal across all channels on the DStv platform requires the accurate alignment of the dish, regardless of its size.

It is also worth noting that information recently surfaced indicating MultiChoice plans to upgrade its HD broadcasts from DVB-S to DVB-S2.

The implications of the upgrade, according to the sources of the information, are that subscribers that are receiving HD broadcasts with a 60cm dish will experience glitches or see a blank screen if they don’t upgrade to at least an 80cm antenna.

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Is your DStv dish too small?