For the purposes of reviewing the StarTimes DVB-T2 decoder meant to allow viewers to receive the Free to Air TV channels even when they have not paid the monthly subscriptions, I received the decoder on Monday last week, tested it for about six hours, and wrote a review on the decoder. You may read the previous review by following this link.
When I received the decoder it was enabled to access all the Pay TV channels – that is it was on Unique Bouquet. So on Monday and Tuesday last week the decoder received all the channels as expected, including the Free to Air channels from Signet.
But the offer to access the Unique Bouquet expired on Tuesday night. As the case usually is, the decoder did not allow me to view the channels on Pay TV except for some local channels I guess due to the two weeks grace period on offer. Having realized that the Pay TV channels were not accessible, I scrolled down the channels only to find that the Free to Air Signet channels were missing from the channel list.[pullquote] It appears that even the StarTimes decoder for Free to Air channels, one must still pay their monthly subscriptions in order to receive both the Pay TV channels and Signet channels.[/pullquote]
I then decided to switch off the decoder, switched it back on, and scanned for channels but the decoder did not find the Signet channels. I repeated the switch-off switch-on and scan procedure two more times; each time adjusting the antenna’s direction but the results were the same. I then called StarTimes customer care for assistance.
The customer care representative first advised me to do basically what I had done. When I told her that I already scanned for channels several times, she gave me the customer care number of Signet saying that it is Signet that supply them with the Free to Air signal so if the Signet channels were the only ones missing from the channel list, then it is a problem on Signet’s end.
I called Signet who asked me to give them a few hours to confirm if their signal in Nakuru was OK, although they were surprised that their channels were completely missing from the channel list. According to Signet, at least the StarTimes decoder ought to have saved the names of the channels in the list. After a few hours I called back and they confirmed that their Signal was OK. I let the issue rest for a few days hoping that the Free to Air channels will be back in the StarTimes decoder soon.
On Monday this week I again called StarTimes to explain to them that even after following up with Signet, I still could not get the Free to Air channels on their DVB-T2 decoder. I further explained to them that the Signet channels disappeared from the channel list when the offer to watch the Unique Bouquet expired. The representative asked me to call Signet and ask them where their transmitters in Nakuru are located so that I could direct my antenna to face the direction of the Signet transmitters.
Her explanation was that when someone has paid for the Pay TV Bouquet, all the channels including the Signet signal are transmitted via StarTimes transmitters but when the payment is defaulted, then StarTimes withdraws the transmission of the Signet signals from their transmitters hence the need for one to adjust the antenna’s direction to face Signet’s transmitters in order to pick the Signet signals.
I spent a lot of time trying to search for the Signet signals each time making sure that I changed the antenna direction by at least 30 degrees. After repeating the channel search process about 15 times, I gave up. In the meantime the decoder from Smart-Beaver was already on its way coming for review.
Yesterday when I received the Smart-Beaver decoder and set it up, I received all the channels including the Pay channels on GoTV, StarTimes, and Signet…although attempts to view channels on GoTV and StarTimes generated the “Scrambled Channel” error message.
After properly setting the antenna to receive the highest quality Signet signal on the Smart Beaver decoder and confirmed that the Signet channels were of best quality on Smart Beaver’s decoder, I slowly removed the antenna from the Smart Beaver decoder and plugged it into StarTimes decoder and scanned for channels…still the Signet Channels did not register on the StarTimes decoder. I then reasoned that since the Smart Beaver decoder does not have a smart card, I should scan for channels without inserting the smart card in StarTimes decoder. This did not help either.
My conclusion is that StarTimes decoder (DVB-T2), their decoder meant to allow TV viewers receive Free to Air (Signet) channels whether one has paid for monthly subscription or not, does not receive the FTA channels when subscription has expired. It appears that even the StarTimes decoder for Free to Air channels, one must still pay their monthly subscriptions in order to receive both the Pay TV channels and Signet channels.