Satellite switch means AFN viewers in Europe must make adjustments
May 19, 2011
WIESBADEN, Germany — Thousands of American Forces Network viewers in Europe will need to reposition their satellite dish and change the settings on their decoder before July 31 to ensure continued reception as the network switches to a different satellite.
Viewers who get AFN via cable will not have to do anything for continued reception.
“If it’s you, your box and your dish, you gotta change,” said Col. Bill Bigelow, AFN Europe commander.
The AFN signal is being moved from the Hotbird satellite to the Eurobird satellite because of “contractual circumstances,” AFN Europe officials said. The switch will affect viewers with satellite dishes in Europe and the Middle East. Bigelow estimated that about 40,000 users could be affected.
Before July 31, viewers who receive the AFN-TV signal via satellite dish will have to change the settings on their decoder and slightly reposition the dish — about an eighth of an inch, from 13 degrees East to the new satellite at 9 degrees East.
“It’s more like a nudge than a move,” said AFN spokesman George Smith.
In cases where multiple housing units share one satellite dish, viewers will just need to change the decoder once they receive notification that a technician has adjusted the communal dish.
Some viewers may choose to hire a satellite system installer to make the adjustment. Axel Mueller, owner of Axel’s Satellite Service in Kaiserslautern, estimated it could cost 40 to 50 euros to realign the dish, depending on how easy it is to access it. He said, depending on the age and style of the dish, other adjustments or equipment might also be needed.
Bigelow acknowledged that home users will incur costs to adjust the dishes if they cannot do it themselves.
“We recognize that this is an inconvenience for folks, but we’re trying to do everything we can to make this a smooth transition,” Bigelow said.
Instruction manuals for various decoder models, how-to videos and a listing of satellite system installers can be found by clicking the Eurobird icon on the AFN website starting Friday: www.afneurope.net. The manuals and videos are available in English, German and Italian.
“We highly encourage people to watch the videos relevant to the decoders that they own and take a look at the manuals that we provided before attempting to make the adjustments,” Bigelow said.
People who pull two satellite signals on one dish, can access both the Hotbird and Eurosat satellites by installing something called a ClipSat on the dish.
People who have older model satellite dishes may need to replace the LNB (low noise block-downconverter), a box that sticks out of the middle of the dish.
“If they have one of those older amplifiers, they will not be able to tune the signal, they’ll have to replace that LNB to a newer model that can tune to high frequency range,” said Mike Johnson, AFN-Europe’s chief engineer.
A 64-phone bank help line dedicated to the switch starts up Saturday and will be staffed on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central European Time and Tuesday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. CET. The toll-free number is 00800-236-268-3662 (00800-afnantenna).
A DSN number, 314-389-4299, is also available for people who can’t make a toll-free call.