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UK TV via satellite: Dish Sizes

Satellite broadcasts for the UK's main free-to-air television channels use a tight spotbeam focused on the British Isles (pictured). 

There are a lot of expats living around the edge of this spotbeam, so reception outside of this area is of great interest among expat communities.

Reception outside of the main spotbeam zone requires a larger dish, and even then, reception may be difficult at certain times of the day and year and isn't guaranteed to continue into the future.

Here's a guide to dish sizes:

Please note: 
  • Weather/atmospheric conditions and even the time of day can affect reception of UK TV services via satellite beyond the core spotbeam of the satellite, therefore a certain dish size may be adequate at some times of the day/year, but not at other times.
  • Some satellite receivers perform better than others. The quality of your dish, LNB and cabling will also affect how well you can receive services beyond the spotbeam.
  • On this page, the dish sizes aim to reflect a suitable size for reception the majority of the time. 
  • You should always consult a local specialist if you're not sure.
  • On the map above, reception around the edge of the highlighted area is possible with dish sizes around 120-150cm, but as soon as you leave the highlighted area to the south or east, reception drops off very rapidly. The map shows Astra 2E's spotbeam. Astra 2F, which carries Channel 5, for example, has a very similar spotbeam, but varies very slightly, so if you're on the edge you may notice subtle differences. Reception outside of the area shown above depends on so-called sidelobes and nulls, which aren't shown on the map. For an explanation, click here
  • The information is based on reception reports submitted to a516digital.

No guarantee of reliable reception. Consult local specialist. Very large dish sizes.
Within UK Spotbeam. 50-80cm. Smallest dish sizes near UK south east, biggest towards German border and NE Netherlands.
No guarantee of reliable reception. Consult local specialist. Very large dish sizes.
  • Most: 160-240cm
  • Copenhagen: locally 150cm due to hotspot at certain times of the year (sidelobe)
  • North, including Paris (within UK Spotbeam): 60 cm dish (In northern coastal areas, a regular Sky mini dish can be used.)
  • Middle (from Bordeaux to Lyon): 60-100cm dish
  • South: 100-150cm dish  [Toulouse: Reports from the area suggest the city is on the border of the 100cm zone - great variations to the north and south: right at the edge of the main spot beam.]
  • SW (Pyrenees): 140-180cm dish required locally.
    Within the highlighted area shown on the map above, reception in western Germany is possible with a dish size of between 80cm on the Belgium/Netherlands border and 100-120 cm as far west as Bremen, Minden, Frankfurt, Stuttgart.
    East of this line, reception drops rapidly and becomes more variable. You need to go between 120cm to 160cm. 
    Then from around Rostock down through the former East Germany to the Czech border and back in to Germany through Bavaria you are in the "Null" spot, a zone where reliable reception is not possible on domestic set-ups. The exact position of the "Null" varies depending on frequency and satellite (there is a slight difference between Astra 2E, F and G). In Munich and Berlin, dish sizes in excess of 2 metres have been reported as being necessary for reliable reception, although there are strong seasonal fluctuations.
  • Turin/Milan: 110-150cm (smallest dish sizes closest to French border)
  • Rest of Italy: No guarantee of reliable reception. A large dish may be required. Consult local specialist.

  • Bergen: 130-160cm
  • Far North (above Arctic Circle): no reception.
  • Rest of Norway: very large dish sizes (mostly 160cm+). Consult local specialist. Reliable reception may not be possible in some locations.
  • North: from 150-180cm
  • Rest of Portugal including Algarve: No guarantee of reliable reception, even with 3-4 metre dishes in some locations. Consult local satellite specialist.
  • Catalonia (including Barcelona, Costa Brava): up to 3 metre dish. Locally no reception possible due to "null" spot. Consult a local specialist.
  • Costa Blanca/Valencia/Alicante across to Madrid: from 120-150cm upwards (local hotspot)
  • Costa Del Sol : 3 metres or more – no guarantee of reliable reception.
  • Mostly no reliable reception unless very large dish. Consult local specialist.
  • South Sweden: reports suggest dish sizes from 120-160cm at certain times, due to local hotspot (sidelobe) - see also "Copenhagen", Denmark listing (above). Seek local advice.

90-160cm (smallest dish sizes in NW Switzerland).
45-60cm   :)