VAST Satellite service to take Aurora’s Place

(Updated 6/01/2011)

You might want to read the most recent article on VAST at

V.A.S.T. (Viewer Access Satellite Television) is set replace the existing “Aurora” satellite television system used by many travellers. So what does this mean for those of us currently receiving our television from Aurora?

Some background

Aurora RABS (remote area broadcast system) was funded by the federal government to address the inability for terrestrial (land based) television systems to deliver services to those living in remote areas. Travellers needs were addressed long after the inception of Aurora, and were really just an add-on.

VAST will replace Aurora and aims to bring the same content that is available to capital city dwellers, to people living in remote locations (including access to high definition programming). Its availability has been tied to the terrestrial analogue transmission turn-off. This is in part to address the differences in the coverage / reception of digital vs analogue transmissions (ie “you shut down analogue and now I get nothing!”).

Firstly the bad news…

  • You will have to buy a new decoder (set top box)
    The new service will not be accessible on any existing decoder and currently the only approved devices are the rather pricey and function poor UEC decoders.  This is particularly bad news for people with automated satellite dishes with built-in decoders!
  • You will have to buy a new smart card (these now come with the decoder).
    Your existing Aurora card will not function for this new service. This new card will (electronically) lock it’s self onto the decoder and will not function in any other decoder (and the decoder will not accept any other card).
  • The system will be controlled in the same way that the existing Aurora system is in terms of eligibility and availability of channels.
    ie – you will only be able to see WA channels when you can prove you are in an area of WA not covered by digital terrestrial transmissions. ((06/01/11)This is NOT the case for travellers)

VAST Satellite Decoder

And now the good news

  • The existing Aurora satellite system will not be shut down until at least 2013.
  • Travellers can now apply for access to the VAST system online at Completing this application will get you 6 months access. Access can be renewed every 6 months (you need to do it 4 weeks before it is due to expire).
  • You do not need to state the intended travel plans when making the application as a traveller.
  • The new system features high definition versions of some channels.
    If you have a high definition capable television, you will get pictures of a much better quality.
  • Additional channels will be available (some in HD)
  • The system is broadcast from the same Optus C1/D3 satellite – no change is required when positioning your dish.
  • A recent announcement has suggested that existing users of the Aurora system who currently reside in an area that allows them to receive Imparja and 7 Central  (not travellers) will be able to simply transfer their Aurora registration to VAST – no questions asked (you still need to buy the new decoder and card of course). No limit is placed on the number of cards/decoders a single address can register.

You should be aware that information is still quite sketchy and what is available could possibly change (however the decoder is already available for purchase – so information about the decoder and card will not change).

I will be sure to keep updating this article as more information comes to hand.

Have you got a question about Satellite TV? Like to know more about any topic relevant to motorhoming or carananing?  Why not leave a comment in the “Leave A Reply” box at the bottom of this page.

Happy Travels

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23 Responses to “VAST Satellite service to take Aurora’s Place”

  1. dave binskin Says:

    i am looking at buying a satellite dish setup from access in wa the $499 set will the decorder box be ok for the new system any help would be appreciated or suggestions as to buying the right set up as i am a complete novice enjoy your blog cheers dave

  2. Hobo Says:

    Hi Dave,
    Your problem will be that the two systems (old Aurora and new VAST) do not use the same compression/encryption system. So, if you get a decoder that will work now(with Aurora) … it will not work with the new VAST system (and will become useless in 3 years time). Right now you can not buy a new (VAST) decoder as a traveler (and even if you are not a traveler – there is a lot of paperwork and criteria you have to meet).
    My recommendation is to buy the system from Access – just be aware that you will have to replace the decoder and card sometime around 2013. You should expect to pay around $200 to replace the decoder (perhaps a little less by 2013 when more manufactures have certified offerings).

  3. David Says:

    I’m in the upper Hunter in NSW and there are a lot of DTV signal blackspots around here and a fair few Aurora users who will be doing the swop to VAST.
    So can I buy the VAST FTA satellite gear and instal it now and it will work?
    If not exactly how soon will it be operationally available to purchase in this area?
    Many thanks

  4. Hobo Says:

    Hi Dave,
    You can purchase the decoder and card now … you can install it and it will immediately provide access to all the SBS and ABC channels (without activating the card). Your big problem will be getting the other channels turned on. As I understand it, unless you live in an area that has had the analogue terrestrial transmissions turned off OR you have a working Aurora card (receiving both 7 central and Imparja) registered to a fixed address, they will not activate your card.

    A quick search of the net will provide retailers that are currently selling the decoders and cards (the only decoders currently available are made by UEC).


  5. phil & Sue Says:

    We went to the Adelaide 4wd and camping show reason to buy a satellite system none of the stall holders of sat system would sell new sets as they could not Promise they would work after the new year told them i was going to W.A they said wait till i get over there in the new year and see what happens they were set up to sell parts only they are going so cheap 2nd hand sets in south aussie they just about giving them away yours Phil and Sue

  6. Hobo Says:

    Thanks for the info guys. The info I have still suggests that the existing system will continue to function at least until 2013.

  7. Litchfield Says:

    We have existing aurora satellite – 34 km est of Cooma nsw – location ‘Countegany” Are we eligible for a new card so as we can receive local commercial channels ie winTV and Prime? When the Satellite was installed years ago we were eligible for ‘remote’ subsidy. At the moment our service comes through Alice Springs – Please comment & reply – Thank you – Susan Litchfield

  8. Hobo Says:

    The current standing on this is unclear. The new rules are supposed to be in effect sometime this month (Dec). At that point, it is my understanding that anybody with an Optus Aurora Card (other than a traveler) should be able to trade this in for a new VAST card/decoder setup.

    Note – you will need a new decoder AND card to receive services from the VAST system.

    More info at

  9. Scott Sutcliffe Says:

    We are just North of Brisbane but unable to recieve Free to air TV because we live under a Mountain which obscures reception. So we get satellite- Inparja,Seven Central etc. Can we take our home decoder and smart card when we head off around Aus.
    I realise we will need a dish on the Motorhome.

    Cheers Scott

  10. Hobo Says:

    Yes. There is no problem with taking your decoder etc with you on the road. You will need to get a sat finder to help align the dish at each new location.

  11. john chapman Says:

    what is the download frequencies for the vast system…?? on the strong decoders eg..4663x


  12. john chapman Says:

    optus c-1, is….12407 v 30000 on network search…on

  13. Says:

    Download frequencies for the VAST system are 12369 V 30000, 12448 V 30000, 12487 V 30000, 12567 V 30000, 12607 V 30000 and 12647 V 30000. I just tried them in Perth using a Strong decoder and nothing was available for download. In either case, even if it did download some channel information, it is encrypted in IRDETO 2 (similar to Foxtel), so you will need a subscription card and decoder – same as Foxtel.

  14. Hobo Says:

    While the encryption is Irdeto2 – the video encoding is MPEG4 – a strong decoder will not handle this high-def format.
    Sadly this leaves us with buying a new decoder as the only option.

  15. Kim Says:

    Hi I live the Hunter Valley in NSW & am an existing Aurora/RABS customer since 2004, I have purchased a VAST decoder and was only able to receive ABC3 and channel 800, I was under the impression that all ABC & SBS channels would be available, I have scanned & re-scanned, but still only get these 2 channels, any suggestions???
    Also while trying to register online which I have tried 3 times I keep getting this message; “We have logged an error during processing your data. This data will be reviewed by our operators and actioned accordingly. This process usually occurs within 48 hours of the next business day.” That was a week ago, but still no action or email. Can you suggest what might be happening, thanks kim.

  16. Hobo Says:

    I am sorry, I have no idea what the problem may be – I suspect that because the system for registration is quite new, there may be bugs in the system that have yet to be corrected. Please let us know how you get on with this. Many people are still to switch to VAST and are very interested in the process and other peoples experiences.

  17. Brian Says:

    some van parks have tv on site , some don’t…what is the cost of a dish for the VAST system?
    the set top box price is not a problem….but the dish??

  18. Hobo Says:

    Hi, The dish required for VAST is the same as the dish used for the Aurora system (and in fact also all pay TV in Australia). The specifications suggest a minimum size of 65cm for the dish.
    Depending on where you purchase the dish from, expect to pay between $100 – $200.
    Remember, you need an LNB, Coax, a Satellite finder and a tripod as well as the dish and decoder. You may be better to think about buying a kit.

    Hope this helps


  19. Mike Says:

    Hi, I have exactly the same problem as Kim (4th Feb) – I can only access the info channel and ABC3 – although I am North of Brisbane. Did you have any luck Kim with your enquiries – I keep getting an automated email from VAST to say that my set has been enabled. I have the Austech decoder and suitable dish – but despite registration cannot get any other channels

  20. Garry kerrish Says:

    Top of the Day to ya. I have got a sat dish. That.Runs Aroura and Austar.Aroura Box still works 7 centrel ABC .SBS ect.And.the same Dish Runs Austar As Well. Someone said they put a spliter inside the house near TV to run cabel to austar and one cabel toAroura Box. They put anew recever thing on dish with 2 leads coming out of it. The old one only had 1 lead out . Before they Put austar in.If I Got A DSD4121 SAT VAST High Definition Decoder? 1 Would it work out here and get all New Channels. And 2 Would it work of The AROURA Cabel? And Is There Any Subs for this Area. WE ARE ABOUT 100 KM FROM WEST OF QUILPIE. Q.L.D. The AUSTAR Box is HD AND RECORDS Ect.BUT Hope To get Rid Of It If Can Get This Vast HD Decoder Out here .Would like to look into price of hard drive for recording with the DSD4121 VAST HI DEFINITION DECODER ? CHEERS. GARRY.

  21. Hobo Says:

    The VAST system uses the same satellite (Optus C1) as Aurora and Ausstar. So yes – you can use a splitter OR a twin output LNB to provide satellite signal to both decoders. The VAST system works all over the country and is a one-time purchase with no ongoing fees or subscription.

  22. Merv Says:

    I have just purchased a VAST stb and installed it into our caravan. I am going on a holiday next month which will include parts of NSW and south west Queensland. When you register the vast system as a traveller it askes for a state. In my case it will be 2, what do you do?


  23. Hobo Says:

    Pick the state with the channels you would most often like to watch. They have no idea where you are actually located.

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