Based on reports from several DStv Explora owners, we can confirm that the Additional Networks feature has been removed and its FTA channels are no longer available to subscribers. The obvious question now would be, “What do I do to continue enjoying FTA channels on DStv?”
If you own a DStv Explora, you may have noticed that the Additional Networks feature is gone. It may be tempting to think someone altered the setup with the remote or something.
But that is not the case. So, what really happened? How is it that the option disappeared just like that?
About 2 years ago, Dish Portal made an article that revealed how DStv customers can take advantage of the Additional Network settings and other satellite options on their DStv Decoder for FTA channels.
While this was not a new feature, the article played a major role in revealing it to tens of thousands of DStv subscribers in South Africa and beyond. It also made it easy to set up without any prior experience with satellite TV frequency modifications.
Since then, many websites and content creators tested it and also wrote about it. Many more South Africans started to use the feature and eventually, Multichoice got wind of it. Many DStv customers were settling for FTA channels instead of having to pay the ever-increasing DStv subscription fees.
Some subscribers stopped subscribing altogether as they could get some important channels for free on FTA. And with the FTA settings, you can get hundreds of channels with no monthly subscriptions.
Since FTA channels are completely legal, there was nothing Multichoice could do about it. So, they moved to stop DStv subscribers from watching it.
How do we know this? It happened that all the DStv Explora owners reported they have lost access to the Additional Networks feature, all at the same time frame. This is the feature that allows you to modify the default settings to start receiving FTA channels broadcasted with the Intelsat 20 (popularly known as the IS20) satellite.
The truth is, DStv can modify settings on the Explora device by sending a software update to it. This software update can overite the built-in features on the device.
Putting all these together, it doesn’t take an Albert Einstein to figure out the feature has been removed by Multichoice using a software update.
DStv is Multichoice’s service and they can always do whatever they want with it. So, if you can no longer watch FTA channels on Explora, what then can you do?
What are FTA channels?
If you don’t know much about this topic, Free-to-air channels (also called FTA channels) are TV channels broadcasted over satellite without any encryption. This means that anyone with the right receiving equipment, usually a dish with LNB, a decoder, and a TV set can receive these channels and watch them.
The absence of encryption means that you won’t need to pay or do anything to access the channel. If you can receive an FTA channel, you can watch it.
DStv channels are all encrypted. This is why you can’t watch them unless you pay for them.
Many people ask if FTA channels are legal. The answer is, yes, FTA channels are legal.
The TV networks that own them send them out without any encryption so users can view them for free.
Why did DStv block FTA channels on Explora?
The answer is kind of simple. Some customers stopped subscribing to any regular DStv package because they were satisfied with the TV channels they got using their FTA settings. Why pay for content you don’t need and probably can’t afford when you can watch useful content for free?
But before you start frowning at DStv, consider the fact that they are a business and they really can’t have this FTA thing steal loyal customers from them. This would definitely mean a substantial reduction in profit.
But you can’t blame users also. DStv has been increasing subscription prices every year without adding enough content to make up for it. Lots of repeated content on movie channels and the DStv Now app doesn’t make it any easier for movie lovers to watch and download their favorite TV shows.
Sports fans too are mostly left frustrated when they realize the sports channels they want are only available on pricey packages like Compact, Compact Plus, and DStv Premium.
And for many sports enthusiasts, a couple of channels are all they need from DStv’s offering. But DStv can’t be used on a pay-as-you-go pricing structure which means you’ll most likely end up paying too much for what you want.
This has frustrated many DStv customers who have had to look for alternatives of which one of them is using their decoders to receive FTA channels.
Additional Networks removed! What’s the Solution?
Multichoice has deleted “Additional Networks” from DStv Explora and other modern decoders. Here are 3 helpful solutions you can implement.
1. Restore Factory Settings
Every device comes in its default state, where no change has been made to any of its built-in setups. The manufacturers also provide a way for users to return the device to its default settings whenever there’s a need.
The DStv Explora also came with its default settings. And we all know that when it came, the Additional Networks feature was present in the setup.
Multichoice later sent out an update that removed it or let’s say, made it unavailable to the users. Though we cannot truly ascertain the nature of the software update, there’s a good chance that restoring the DStv decoder to the default setting can restore the availability of the Additional Networks feature.
So how do you restore your DStv Explora decoder to the default settings? Here is a video from Prince that will take you step by step through restoring your decoder to default settings.
Warning: Restoring your device to the default state will wipe out every change you made to it and return it back to the state it was when you bought it. Do not turn off the device while the reset is still running. This may cause a portion of the software to malfunction. And for the purpose of this reset, every major update from DStv will remove the settings again. This means you’ll need to reset your decoder every time you allow an update from Multichoice to run on the system. If this fixes the problem, always try to disallow updates from Multichoice.
2. Get a DStv HD Decoder
If resetting your Explora does not solve the problem, the next option is getting the HD decoder. The reset was only pushed out to Explora decoders. Users of HD decoders have not noticed this change.
But DStv HD decoders come in a series. For FTA channels, I recommend you go for the 6 series set of HD decoders. Modern HD decoders from Multichoice will not allow you to scan for FTA channels.
Walk into any DStv store and ask for the 6 series HD decoder. If they don’t have it, you can try to get a used HD decoder from them or any trusted supplier near you. If you get a used HD decoder, be sure to do a proper DStv change of ownership.
But what do you do with the Explora decoder when you get the HD decoder? It depends on your needs. You can decide the sell the Explora decoder if you no longer need it. This means you will no longer have the ability to record shows and will also miss out on some key features that are available on Explora but not on the HD decoder.
You can also use it as a primary decoder to set up DStv XtraView. This means you can make DStv available in another location in the house. You can decide to have the Explora in your bedroom while you take the DStv HD to the sitting room and connect them to a single dish.
With XtraView, you can view a different channel in the sitting room without disrupting what the other person is viewing in the bedroom.
3. Get a dedicated FTA decoder
The third option, which is also a very good alternative, one which I highly recommend, is getting a dedicated Free-to-air decoder.
An FTA decoder is built only for the purpose of receiving free-to-air channels.
I know many have never heard of FTA channels until now. You have used your DStv decoder to access free-to-air channels. But you may not have known that there are decoders built only for that purpose. You don’t need to pay monthly subscriptions when you use an FTA decoder.
For those who don’t understand, the reason you pay for channels on DStv is that nearly all channels on DStv are premium channels. They are all encrypted so you need to pay to have access to them.
Don’t allow scammers to trick you with the promise of giving you DStv channels like SuperSport or 1Magic for free. Those are premium channels. So apart from the fact that they can’t deliver on that promise, bypassing the encryption to get these channels is illegal.
But there are free channels on satellite that are not encrypted. They are free for everyone and are called Free-to-air channels. To get them you can modify the setting on your DStv decoder (except the Explora) to start receiving them.
The dedicated FTA decoder on the other hand is built only for Free-to-air channels. This means that you only need to connect it to the satellite of your choice and set it up to start receiving these free channels.
FTA channels are free — no monthly payments on this one. You only need to pay the installer an installation fee you both agree on.
If you already have a dish, you can ask the installer to use the DStv dish to set it up for you. You may need to buy a new LNB. It all depends on what your installer will recommend. In any case, if you already have a dish that you intend to use, ask them if you can purchase an FTA decoder without the dish so you can use your old dish and save money.
Final Word: Losing the Additional Network feature is not the end of the world. You still have options to try out. Those are three solid solutions you can implement if you lost the feature.