Like television for the home, TV on tour can be split into two broad categories: terrestrial TV and satellite TV.
Terrestrial TV is broadcast through a series of land based transmitters which each offer local coverage for a given geographic location. Satellite TV is broadcast through satellites orbiting the earth and therefore serves a much larger geographic area.
To receive terrestrial TV while on tour, the user will require a television, Freeview receiver and terrestrial aerial. Traditionally, terrestrial aerials have been directional and therefore require manual alignment with the local transmitter every time the vehicle is stopped. A preferable solution is the omni-directional antenna, which receives transmission through 360 degrees. This overcomes the need for manual alignment and complicated installations. Depending on application, both directional and omni-directional aerials are available for permanent roof mount and temporary installation.
As mentioned above, the main limitation of terrestrial TV is geographic coverage. For travel inside the UK terrestrial aerials will receive UK channels, however travelling further afield, terrestrial aerials will only pick up transmission local to that geographic area and consequently, UK TV channels will be unreachable from outside the UK.
For this reason, satellite TV is a popular choice for the mobile touring market as these transmissions serve a much larger geographic area; this area is known as the satellites 'footprint'. We must also note that channels specific to different regions of the world are broadcast from different satellites, all of which offer their own footprint. In the UK, we require the Astra 2 satellite.
Satellite footprints vary depending on dish size; the larger the dish, the larger the footprint. Typically, to receive Astra 2 a 65cm dish offers coverage into the centre of France, whilst an 85cm dish will offer coverage approaching the Spanish boarder. See our article here further explaining satellite footprints.
To receive satellite TV the user will require a television, a satellite receiver (such as a Free to Air receiver or, with a valid subscription, a Sky receiver) and a satellite dish system. As a result of the earth's curvature and the satellite's orbit, it is therefore necessary to adjust the position of the dish every time the vehicle is moved.
A range of systems have been developed to offer this functionality, from completely manual systems which have a simplified alignment process, through to fully automatic systems which are capable of locating a satellite at the press of a button. Like terrestrial aerials, satellite systems are available in both portable and roof mount applications, however because of the size and sophistication of these systems many users opt for a roof mount application.
There are many factors influencing the best system for your application so it's worth discussing your requirements in more detail before making a purchase.