VAST Satellite Television System for Travellers (v2)

VAST Satellite Television System for Travellers

The VAST satellite TV system will replace the existing Aurora system used by many travellers. But we have been waiting on answers to questions like :

When will VAST  be available?

When will Aurora stop?

What equipment is needed for VAST?

What channels will I be able to receive from VAST?

What Satellite will VAST be broadcast from?

Clarification on these points was provided just a few weeks ago, but before we get into that – here is a little background.

BTW – VAST stands for “Viewer Access Satellite Television

The Optus Aurora system has been in operation for a number of years. It is broadcast to the entire country from a satellite called Optus C1 (or more correctly C1/D3). The announcement of the replacement for Aurora was closely linked to the introduction of digital terrestrial broadcasting and the discontinuation of the existing terrestrial analogue transmissions.

VAST Satellite system for travellers

So why were changes to the satellite system tied to changes in the terrestrial TV broadcast system?

Well, it all relates to something known as “the digital cliff”. This refers to how digital TV transmissions are either received perfectly or not at all. In the old days of analogue TV if you lived in an outlying area or below a hill, you might receive a slightly snowy or ghosty picture – but you did get a picture. When it comes to digital, if the receiver cannot get enough signal strength to give you a perfect picture it will give you absolutely nothing. This means that some people who were getting their TV signal slightly imperfectly will not receive  anything at all in the new digital world. Also there are number of small towns that have retransmissions stations that will not interface with the new digital system. It was recognised that it would be more economical to offer the equivalent of the new digital TV to these places via a satellite system. VAST was born!

How does VAST differ from the Aurora system?

Firstly VAST has the ability to deliver high definition pictures. This means much better quality picture IF you have a HD television and it is correctly cabled to the decoder. VAST uses Mpeg2/4 for the video compression – this is very different to the compression system used by Aurora.  VAST uses a version of the Irdeto2 encryption system. Aurora uses both the Irdeto1 and Irdeto2 encryption system.

When will VAST happen?

VAST has been running since the beginning of 2010, however the plans to accommodate travellers were not made public until December 2010. The existing Aurora service is scheduled to stop at the end of 2013.

What equipment do I need to receive VAST?

Because VAST uses a different compression system to Aurora (to allow for HD broadcasts) you will need to purchase a new decoder. Right now your choices are  limited to UEC VAST certified decoders. These are selling for about $270 and come with a smart card. The smart card is digitally locked to the decoder – it will not function in any other decoder. The decoder is also locked to the card – it will not accept any other card. The same dish and cable that you are currently using for Aurora will work fine with the new VAST decoder. If you want to see programs in high definition – the decoder needs to be connected to a HD television with an HD cable (either HDMI or component).

What channels will I be able to watch?

The final line-up of channels has not yet been announced. This is because the WA broadcasters are yet to provide their information. If you are a traveller you will get access to:

  • SBS1 from each state
  • SBS2 from each state
  • SBS HD from each state
  • ABC1 from each state
  • ABC2 from each state
  • ABC3 from each state
  • ABC News 24 from each state
  • Seven (SCTV)
  • 7two (Central)
  • 7mate (Central)
  • Imparja North (WIN Programming)
  • GEM
  • GO (North)
  • 10 Central (North)
  • 10 Eleven
  • ONE (Central)
  • ONE HD (Central)
  • Regional News Guide
  • The VAST Information Channel

The form to apply for access requests your PRIMARY AREA OF TRAVEL and asks for a state. It also notes that “Selecting a state will determine what services are enabled on your decoder.”

How do I apply to have my VAST smart card activated as a traveller?

When you receive your new VAST decoder, it will come with a smart card pre-activated for ABC and SBS channels only. To activate the other channels you need to complete an online form at . Completing this form will give you a 6 month activation, after which the system will remove all channels except the ABC’s and SBS’s. The good news is that you may request reactivation 4 weeks before it is due to expire and (hopefully) not suffer any down time.


So in a nutshell … if you are a traveller…

  • You will have to replace your existing decoder some time before Aurora stops (currently the end of 2013).
  • You will get a bunch of new channels .
  • You will get HD (assuming you have a HD capable TV and cables).
  • You will have to apply for access as a traveller and you will get 6 months access only. This can be renewed in 6 month lots forever (I assume).
  • The new system uses the same satellite dish and cable and the dish points at the same satellite.

Do you have a VAST system? Why not tell us what you think of it. Use the “leave a reply” box at the bottom of this page – we would love to hear from you.

Have you got a question? Why not leave a reply below?

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36 Responses to “VAST Satellite Television System for Travellers (v2)”

  1. Motorhome and Caravan Info Australia » Blog Archive » VAST Satellite service to take Aurora’s Place Says:

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

  2. Thomas Greenbank Says:

    I recently purchased a Blaze Digital TV receiver, which is a basically usb dongle and an aerial, to pick up dig. TV on my laptop. Do you know if I can connect a sml dish to this to receive satellite TV?

  3. Hobo Says:

    I can tell you for sure that you can not connect a dish to a digital decoder (that is what your USB dongle is). It is a very different system.
    To receive satellite TV you must have a satellite decoder.

  4. Colin Andrew Says:

    I have VAST for the van. It is everything claimed. Initial activation was instant – set up the system, phone, the girl pressed a button at her end and I was connected. I get 81 digital tv channels (including those available in HD) and 16 digital radio stations. I’ve registered as a traveller with primary state NSW, and while your programmes get local Imparja-type ads, the programmes are capital city e.g. the 6pm channel 9 news is Sydney-based with Peter Overton, but ads might be about drenching cattle in Charters Towers. The only “funny” I’ve seen so far was the NRL, where the Friday night games were reversed (the first was the one normally seen in Brisbane, and the second the one normally seen first in Sydney). Definitely worth the cost of the box.

  5. Hobo Says:

    Thanks for the info Colin – this sounds like a huge improvment from the Aurora system.

  6. Rob Ashworth Says:

    Re VAST: I recently changed over from Aurora. Apart from the high cost of the only available set top box, the remote is user-unfriendly and the system frequently freezes/remote fails to operate. The information in the set top manual is sparse and written in 6 point typeface…it is impossible to speak to a human being in VAST. However, even given its unreliablity and quirks, it is good having a choice of TV channels at last.

  7. Colin Andrew Says:

    Interesting comments Rob. I’m not sure why you see the box as expensive – at $279 it seems reasonable given it is a HD receiver (SD are cheaper, of course, but HD with record function are considerably dearer). The system freezing is supposedly now fixed through a satellite download. Do you have a download pending under Advanced Settings that you haven’t used yet (i.e. the download option not greyed out)? As to the remote, there’s nothing on it that’s any different to any other remote I’ve ever used, so what you consider ‘user-unfriendly’ about it is a bit of a mystery (apart from being a little small).

  8. Len Roberts Says:

    As a traveller I am looking at buying a satellite system. Seems VAST is now the only logical way to go, the other systems obsolete by 2013. Do you agree? Can you clarify the registration bit? If you select a state, say Qld, does it mean you can only receive signal in Qld or that it becomes the state from which news, sport etc. is received Aus. wide and that you can still get signal travelling say in Vic. or NSW. Wouls appreciate your help, thanks

  9. Hobo Says:

    Hi, for someone about to purchase a system, the answer is not currently clear-cut. The old system will be decommissioned at the end of 2013 and thus any equipment purchased now would be redundant at that point. The big issue with purchasing a new VAST decoder is the quality, cost and functionality of the ONLY model of decoder currently available. UEC is the only company that are offering VAST decoders – and as you would expect in a monopoly, the price is high ($289 vs about $100 for a Strong decoder for the old system). We are told that new suppliers will release new VAST decoders “soon”.

    The entire range of channels are broadcast to the entire country so you can receive any channel, no matter where you are located. This issue is not where you are – but where you elect to tell Optus that you are. If you are in WA and you tell them that you are in QLD, you will receive the QLD channels. They have no way of knowing or checking where you really are in the country (the satellite system used is just broadcasting a signal – there is no back channel). So you simply register the system using the state that you want your news/sport from and you will receive this all over the country. Registration last 6 months and you can change the stated location at each renewal.
    I hope this helps – if you do purchase a VAST system, please let us know how it goes and how the registration process worked for you.

  10. Len Roberts Says:

    Thanks for your quick response. If we go ahead will certainly let you know how it goes. Regards. Len

  11. Peter Birch Says:

    I have bought a new VAST system. As this is the first time that I have used/attempted to set up the dish, I have know idea what I’m doing .The guy at the store said I needed to buy a satelite finder (which I didn’t, buy that is) to make it easier to set up. Playing with the dish is driving me nuts, so I am unable to report what I think of it, (but at this stage, not much).
    I will however be buying a satelite finder next time I go to town(Tamworth).

    Thanks Peter

  12. Hobo Says:

    Hi Peter,

    You may find the setup guide on this site at useful. You will however need a sat finder.
    Good luck.

  13. daryll walker Says:

    Can you tell me if Vast decoder boxes are 12 volt compatible system and give me some idea were these are available in S.A. Thank You

  14. Hobo Says:

    The makers of the VAST decoders do not currently have a 12v option- however I have seen adverts for post converted decoders that have had the 240v power supply removed and replaced with a 12/24v power supply. I think it was a company called Sat Plus

  15. sean hogan Says:

    Hi there, thinking of switching to Vast, do you know if the 6 month period will “renewable” as many times as I wish.
    And do you actually nedd to ring them to activate or can you do it on the net ?


  16. Hobo Says:

    The 6 month period is renewable indefinitely for travellers and it can be done on the net. You simply need to tell them where you will be for the next 6 months.

  17. sean hogan Says:

    thanks a lot for that.


  18. Chris Murphy Says:

    I have the vast installed in my motor home and its performs well and gives me all the channels i need . the decoder functions well with no issues
    I always register the 6 monthly block for NSW gives me the best selection of channels
    The only issue i have is that i can”t understand why you need to constantly register for the 6 monthly block and why it matters where you are traveling ,why cant they just activate forever ??? who would care

  19. Hobo Says:

    If you have an address in a remote part of NSW that you can use, you can simply register the decoder at that address and it will be a permanent registration. It is only us travellers that must re-register every 6 mths.

  20. Barbara Beveridge Says:

    Just to clarify the above – If I purchase a Vast Satellite System for Travellers to use while travelling in remote NSW can I transfer that registration of the travelling decoder to a permanent address in remote NSW when I stop travelling (so that I don’t have to keep re-registering it every 6 months)?

  21. Hobo Says:

    That is correct.

  22. Stephen Gorin Says:

    Hi all;
    Yes the Vast satellite system works very well and i now have had my system for about 6 months now. i use a old Austar dish annd a Lmb with mine and so far have not had any problems, no i tell a lie, some times trying to find the satellite can be a bit tireing. And i know what i’m doing , i work in the electronics industry and also have installled domestic and commercal fta antenna systems.

    One thing that you are not told when you purchest your new vast system is when you have finished traveling and you are back at home, the reciever needs to still be connected to your dish AND aligned to the C1 satillite so the reciever can get it’s update signal, no signal and after a few days your reciever will shut down and you have to go through the procedure of reactivating the reciever/card again.

    I just use a second Austar dish that is mounted on the roof of my house (i got my second dish from the local tip !!!. So for all you vast people out there this is one thing to remember, it’s not a problem if you are traveling, but only if you have , say a caravan that you only use a few times a year.

    So one to be weary of !!

  23. Hobo Says:

    Hi – that is an interesting observation. In most cases (in the past) you did not have to re-register, it just took some time for the decoder to receive the appropriate code and the system would start working again (normally within an hour or so).
    Can anyone confirm that this is still the case with the VAST system?

  24. Len Morellini Says:

    Purchased a Vast system with portable dish just over a week ago and registered the card over the internet using the on line form the day I bought it. I went to set it up and try it out the other day, a week after registering, and while I could get onto the satellite quite easily and see the details on the screen I kept getting a message saying my card was not authorised whenever I tried to watch any channel. Nothing came up, just the unauthorised message. Since it was Friday afternoon, and being in WA, the Vast office was closed (only open during Eastern States Business Hours and not on weekends).

    Have to wait till monday before I can find out why my registration did not go through. Seems a bit poor since I bought the thing for travelling and if I had taken off on Friday I would be out of phone range and without TV already, so now have to hang about till I can phone them again.

    Also bit peeved that while in WA I can only register for WA signals and have to phone them if I travel to other states to have the registration and the signal acceptance changed, also this whole thing only lasts six months then I have to phone them again and I’m told this should be done within 4 weeks of the end of six months so it will happen smoothly. Also since I won;t have the portable dish set up all the time, while travelling, I will constantly have the signal cut off and have to phone in to get it connected again, not always possible at the places I go as rare to get a good phone signal.

    So, so far not that impressed, seems very convoluted for a system that is meant to be easy to use for travellers, hopefully someone will see sense one day and make the constant re-registration process redundant, after all, if you’re a traveller, then that’s what you’re doing…..travelling, so why re-register when you travel accross state borders an why take a week or more to get an authorised signal?

  25. valiant81 Says:

    Hi Len Morellini;
    Sattilite television and on the road, a good reason for divoice if ever there were a season.
    The first thing you need to do is set up your sattilite dish and connect it to your reciever. So far so good. Now you need to connect your decoder to the a/v connnections on the television that you are going to use.
    Next turn the television on and select the a/v input that you have pluged into. turn on your sattilite reciever and you will see the decoder booting up, once the reciever has booted, with the remote control for the reciever, push the 8-0-0. buttons. Once this is done and you can recieve the banner on the screen saying that ‘ if you can recieve this channel , your sattilite dish is pointing correctly’ . Only when you can recieve the ‘banner’ is when you phone up”mysattv” and ask for a autherising.

    What has proberly happened in you case is you have not found the sattilite and although your has missed being ( pinged ), turned on.

    Your other problem is finding the sattilite in the first place, this is were the meter will come in handy, also a good compass is also a must have, as you need to bee about 36 degrees East of north and also the ellevation of also about 36 degrees up from the horizision.

    Yes i know it is all a bit to take in at the moment ,but once you have done the alignment a few time is slowly becomes easyer.

  26. colin davies Says:

    with your iphone simply purchase the WikiCamps apps for $1.98
    in the tools section there is a sat finder so no matter your location you have the exact Azumith LMB and Elevation
    Press the camera top right and follow the green arrow untill you can see the satelite, this will show you if there is any obstructions between you and the satelite
    For elevation turn the iphone on its side and just follow the numbers

  27. Valiant81 Says:

    Hi all;
    Well i have had the vast set up in my caravan now for the last 2 years and all good, and the only thing that has gone wrong is the original LMB on my dish had failed, it had beeen playing up for a little while now. No big problem and purchesed a new LMB from my supplyer $20.00 ( i used to install antennas as part of my job ) any way, i replaced the LMB and so far so good.
    The wife and myself took off for Darwin in May/June this year and even free camped a few times and still had all of our televisions channels while we were traveling. Great happlyhour conversation starter, when you are traveling with the dish and other people are watching you set up. Some were amazed at how short a time that it took to find the sattilight and have television. I even had one couple come up to me and ask if i had television, as they were unable to find the correct sattilight were they were, a quick realighnment and reboot of there receiver and they were happy campers. Ended up haveing tea with them and did not have to put my hand in my pocket all night for beer ( we were staying at Daily Waters at the time ) and a nother good night.

    One thing i will say about the vast receiver is the constant connection/ diconnection of the coax cable to the receiver caused the ‘F’ connector to work loose, retighten and now i have a small coax cable exstention connected to my receiver so as not to place undue strain on the ‘F’ connector. So one to watch out for.

    I had looked at converting mt Vast receiver over to 12 Volts only and even started to desighn a moduel to replace the 240 Volt built in board, and even found one company had one already on the market but at about $100.00 just for the board, well i found that a bit dear for my likeing. Anyway ended up purchesting a 12 Volt to 240 Volt pure sin wave inverter ( 300 Watt/ 600 peak ) for about $57.00 off E-Bay. I only use the inverter when we free camp.

    Yes the Vast service is a very good set up and has a bit of a learning curve to take in, BUT once you have it marsted the set up is quiet reliable.

  28. Peter Passeri Says:

    I have a Vast Sat T/v receiver & am currently travelling from Mandurah West Australia in my Caravan around the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, then up into the Northern Territory & finally back into West Australia. I can only get West Australian channels @ WA time, how do I access each different state’s t/v channels on that State’s time zone as I travel though them?
    Thanking you in anticipation, Peter Passeri.

  29. Hobo Says:

    Sadly travellers must select between eastern and western states and then put up with that decision for six months. After six months you may reapply and select another location. Not ideal – but that is the way it is.


  30. Joe Says:

    My registration expired while we were home. We went to a CMCA chapter meeting and found I could only receive the ABC and SBS, all other stations were headed “unauthorized” I reregistered on the internet but it looks like everybody has gone home for the weekend as it is now Saturday evening (6-45 pm) and no reception other than ABC or SBS. Hopefully somebody will press the button on Monday. I find it ridiculous to need to request reconnection every 6 months.

  31. Hobo Says:

    I was under the impression (perhaps wrongly) that the process was automated. I have tried doing it at night and had results in about 20 minutes.

  32. Lyn Says:

    Can I use my pay tv card in our vast system?

  33. Hobo Says:

    No, the cards are locked to the decoders. Vast decoders will not accept any other card other than the one they were issued with.

  34. Mike Hyde Says:

    There needs to be an option to set the choice of channel 7 Mate so that other 7 Mate services can be selected. Same for 7. Should be able to choose 7 Sydney rather than 7 Central . Being locked into 7Mate central is unsatisfactory. The afl coverage at 7Mate central frequently excludes Swans coverage. 7 Mate in Sydney and 7 Mate Wollongong always cover the Swans games. 7 Central also does the same.

  35. ron Says:

    hi, my request is a bit different,because my dish is fixed to my caravan I am trying to make up a sat finding device that works of vertical. I am in perth so I was wondering if somebody,say in Brisbane could me a reading of their dish the amount in degrees dish is off vertical,in perth it is 8.5 thanking you in anticipation ron

  36. NAOMI GREEN Says:

    Im registered in qld how do i change to sa

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