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Satellite Descramblers: What the Heck are they, anyway?
Satellite TV, like cable, is one that is wrought with expensive options, selections, packages, hardware, and features. A new satellite TV subscriber can pick and choose their subscription package literally down to the penny, detailing the exact hardware setup and capabilities of their new system.
What is a Satellite Descrambler?
There are two different types of satellite television signals that you are able to receive and view: free-to-air (FTA), and premium services. Free-to-air satellite broadcasts are channels that can be viewed by anyone with an active satellite connection, valid receiver, or anything who is within the local broadcast area. A descrambler is used to view premium transmissions, such as pay-per-view or premium channels like HBO.
Satellite signals are transmitted using an encryption algorithm that prevents pirates from receiving and viewing the signal. Unless you have the proper descrambling equipment, which contain the algorithm keys that enable regular viewing, the signal comes in garbled and warped.
Think of a descrambler as interpreters and the satellite signal as a foreign diplomat. The diplomat talks to the interpreter, who then presents you with the information in a language that you can understand. In audio/visual terms, the descrambler enables the proper audio and visual playback of the signal that you are receiving.
Are Satellite Descramblers Illegal?
Yes and no. There is certainly nothing to prevent you from owning a legitimately acquired satellite descrambler. These descramblers are completely legal, and often you will find them promoted with satellite internet access. Descramblers come in many forms, from standard receivers to PVR units, and often satellite providers want to entice you to opt for their service via premium content subscriptions or PVR capabilities.
So, on that level, no, they are not illegal so long as you maintain an active satellite subscription. If you purchased the descrambler through a legitimate source and receive legitimate satellite service they are merely a tool that enables you to use your services.
However, if you obtained a “hacked” satellite descrambler and do not currently pay for satellite service then yes, you are acting illegally. A hacked descrambler will decode the satellite signal regardless of whether or not you are an active paying customer, and many people use them to gain free satellite access. This is seen quite often in Canada and Mexico, where companies like DirecTV and DISH Network are unable to control the fact that their satellite signal broadcasts across the United States boarder.
Where Can I Find a Satellite Descrambler?
You can find descramblers everywhere, from retail outlets to online distribution centers. Because they are not technically illegal there is nothing against the sale or distribution of a descrambler, so many retailers offer them as an incentive to sign up for affiliated satellite television access.
They are common at electronics retailers, wholesalers, and audio/visual centers.
Why You Don’t Want One
The reality is that you can obtain a satellite descrambler and view satellite television for free. However, if you are caught with illegal equipment you will be fined and possibly charged with theft. As well, satellite companies are constantly refreshing their algorithm keys, and only legitimate satellite subscribers are able to receive the new ones via the satellite broadcast.
This means that when the satellite company refreshes the receiver key that you will lose satellite access. Sometimes this happens for days, weeks, even months if you don’t have a legitimate access code. Since you are essentially pirating television signals if you operate a illegitimate satellite descrambler, you can bet that DirecTV and DISH flash their signals frequently.
Modern television encryption techniques are also making descrambling rather unpractical, as many descramblers won’t allow you to view high-definition channels or movies, as their physical electronics are unable to transmit the proper signal. Combine this with the increasingly tight security that satellite companies are maintaining and you face a grim reality: illegitimate satellite descramblers are a dying breed.
You are better off to purchase a legitimate satellite subscription and opt for a package that you can afford. You will avoid any possible legal hassles, be able to access premium features and content, and will have uninterrupted satellite television for what is essentially a small monthly premium. With satellite television subscriptions costing less than $40 a month, there is no reason that you can’t afford it.
DISH Network is offering very competitive packages, and they have recently launched a series of highly-capable PVR units that have revolutionized the television experience. Why not find out for yourself?