Many Service personnel posted abroad will be have access to BFBS TV and Radio services automatically when moving into their accommodation. The list below covers the larger deployments, but it is not exhaustive and BFBS TV services are available in far more locations than can be listed here.
If the area that you are being posted or deployed to is not listed below, please check if it is under one of our satellites and contact our Service Desk for advice and information by telephone to +44 (0)203 750 4567.
Germany: All married quarters and single living accommodation will receive BFBS TV through a local cable TV system or via a Direct To Home (DTH) satellite system for more information contact your Welfare Officer or contact BFBS Germany directly on +49 5241 236163.
Cyprus: All married quarters and single living accommodation will receive BFBS TV through a Direct To Home (DTH) satellite system, for more information contact your Welfare Officer or contact BFBS Cyprus directly on +357 2527 8518.
Gibraltar: All married quarters and single living accommodation will receive BFBS TV through a digital cable TV system, for more information contact your Welfare Officer or contact BFBS Gibraltar directly on +350 200 55389.
Canada: All married quarters and single living accommodation at Suffield will receive BFBS TV through a digital cable TV system, for more information contact your Welfare Officer or contact BFBS Canada directly on +1 403 544 4104.
Falkland Islands: All married quarters and single living accommodation in the Falkland Islands will receive BFBS TV through digital TV transmissions or Direct To Home (DTH) satellite system, for more information contact your Welfare Officer or contact BFBS Falkland Islands on +500 733 15.
Kenya: All married quarters are able to receive BFBS TV through Direct To Home (DTH) satellite system, for more information contact your Welfare Officer or contact BFBS Service Desk on +44 (0)203 750 4567.
Brunei: BFBS TV is available in certain areas, for more information contact your Welfare Officer or contact BFBS Brunei on +673 322 3424
Nepal: BFBS TV is available in certain areas, for more information contact your Welfare Officer, BFBS Nepal on 00 977 (1) 5528055 or contact BFBS Service Desk on +44 (0)203 750 4567.
BIOT, Diego Garcia: BFBS TV is available in certain areas, for more information contact your Welfare Officer or contact BFBS Service Desk on +44 (0)203 750 4567.
Operational Deployments: BFBS TV is available in most areas, for more information contact your Welfare Officer or contact BFBS Service Desk on +44 (0)203 750 4567.
What is BFBS TV and Radio
BFBS transmits 14 television channels and more than a dozen radio and music channels to the British Forces personnel serving overseas, providing them with welfare entertainment and situational awareness.
BFBS TV and Radio services ensure that all Service Personnel are well-informed and entertained, leading to higher levels of morale, increased operational effectiveness and better retention.
BFBS TV programmes feature the very best of UK television, including programmes from BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky and dozens of other channels. There is a fantastic selection of sports, with the best of all the Sky Sports channels, BT Sport, and others, underpinned by our special relationships with sporting bodies including the Premier League, Scottish Premiership, Rugby, Boxing, F1.
We also offer two 24 hour news channels – Sky News for UK news, world affairs and situational awareness, and Forces TV for the very latest military news, documentary features and analysis of every aspect of the Forces world.
BFBS Radio is at the heart of military life. With local radio stations in seven countries and services from the UK, BFBS Radio delivers a range of services for all music tastes and age groups, with chat, requests, competitions and news to keep you informed and entertained 24 hours a day.
Our MOD contract survey shows an incredible 99% of the overseas audience listen to BFBS Radio and the satisfaction levels are some of the highest surveyed. Listeners enjoy BFBS Radio wherever they are and love the way it brings together serving forces and their families, whether it’s having a brew-up out on the range at BATUS, the spouse listening in the car with the kids on their way to school, or a just bunch of mates cranking up the volume on the latest BFBS dance music podcast. BFBS Radio goes with you wherever you are and makes it easy to stay connected with home.
Receiving BFBS Radio and TV
There are many different ways to receive BFBS. By far the most reliable way to deliver radio and TV to far flung places around the world is via satellite. Satellite remains the principle backbone of our worldwide network, and is augmented by a variety of "on the ground" local distribution technologies. These include cable TV networks, terrestrial TV and FM and new hybrid technologies allowing users to use their mobile devices as personal TVs.
You can receive BFBS TV and Radio via the internet, but remember that in many locations the internet is not suited to TV or video. Military satcoms were not designed for delivery of TV and cannot cope with the high bandwidths needed. Other communications links, such as local broadband internet, may be satisfactory for one or two users at a time but probably can’t cope with dozens of simultaneous TV viewers. Similarly, congestion in local WiFi networks will often give a very unsatisfactory experience.
It is therefore important to plan for and choose the right equipment before deployment. If you are looking at JSP 770 for guidance, we strongly recommend you read this information first!
For more information or advice contact the BFBS Service Desk on [email protected] or +44 (0)203 750 4567.
Getting your BFBS Satellite Receiver kit
The Services Sound & Vision Corporation (SSVC) is the Forces registered charity behind the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS). The charity loans BFBS Satellite Receivers at no cost* to Entitled British Service personnel posted, deployed or training outside of the UK.
Entitled British Service personnel in Europe, Middle East, Africa and the Americas can access live UK TV channels, bespoke BFBS TV & radio channels and the Forces TV channel. All you need to do is arrange for a local satellite installer to fit an appropriate satellite dish and connect up your free* BFBS Satellite box. Our BFBS Helpline is onhand to get you going.
Forces Personnel on deployment or training exercises can also take BFBS Welfare services wherever they go and BFBS will advise on the appropriate satellite dishes, help arrange for local installation through our dealer network, or supply self-install satellite dish kits.
If you are living under one of our satellites and are away from home, you needn’t be without all the comforts of UK TV and radio. So, to keep in touch with international, national and Forces news, to follow your favourite soaps, live sports, entertainment, drama, documentaries and celebrity gossip, just contact BFBS, and we’ll get TV to you wherever you are posted.
The cost of kit varies depending on location (i.e. size of dish). Alternatively, the satellite dish can be purchased from a local installer and BFBS will supply the receiver and viewing card, instructions and guidance for the local installer.
(* Users must return their receiver and viewing card to BFBS after use, otherwise a fee is levied for lost or damaged equipment.)
For more information or advice contact the BFBS Service Desk on [email protected] or +44 (0)203 750 4567.
What if you can’t have a satellite dish?
BFBS provides a range of services that can be enjoyed by Forces Personnel who, for one reason or another, cannot directly access any of the BFBS satellites.
These services include:
- BFBS Player: This is a versatile content delivery platform that can work in three ways:
- BFBS TV Player for Live TV and radio services via broadband internet connections
- BFBS MiPlayer for Live TV and radio services relayed via wifi from a nearby BFBS satellite link
- BFBS MiPlayer as a Video On Demand player for remote or "disconnected" users, such as submariners
- Navy TV: Live TV and radio is available to Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships but may occasionally be unavailable due to ship's location or course steered. Ships alongside receive TV and radio via a dockside connection (SAS)
- Digital: If you are on-line you have access to BFBS webpages, audio streams, apps and our social media sites
- Cinelink: Newly released cinema films to watch on a communal TV or a projector, ideal for remote and closed-user groups. The full Cinema experience in your Welfare Tent or Mess Desk with the latest Hollywood blockbusters within weeks of their cinema premiere**
- BFBS DVD Service: If Live TV isn’t possible, recorded TV is the next best thing. The BFBS DVD Service sends to hundreds of locations each week, each pack containing about 60 hours of the best of the week’s TV
Satellite or Internet?
In summary, the internet may be an option if super-fast fibre broadband is available, in which case Users can access BFBS services via BFBS Player.
For most situations the BFBS satellite platforms provide ultra-reliable delivery of TV and radio content, and a satellite dish can supply one or many satellite receivers without congestion, degradation, Host Nation permissions or censorship.
Why is satellite usually the best method of BFBS TV distribution?
Satellite distribution is a highly cost-effective and bandwidth-efficient method of providing live news, sport and entertainment services to Forces Personnel scattered across the globe. Satellite dishes are quick to deploy, highly reliable, independent of local infrastructure (such as IP networks, throttled, firewalled or censored internet) or host country regulation. Satellite technology is mature, low cost and requires no special knowledge once set up.
BFBS satellites cover over half the globe (16 time zones) delivering live TV and Radio to land and sea locations. Satellites have large footprints and, in general, anyone under our three main footprints should be able to receive BFBS Radio and TV. Moreover, receiver equipment is standard consumer electronics which keeps the cost down, and with a bit of training or local help almost anyone can get connected.
BFBS uses these same satellites for our backbone delivery feeding other types of local distribution, including cable networks, localised terrestrial TV and FM radio transmitters and throughout Navy vessels at sea. Several TV receivers can share a single satellite dish, and BFBS has designed special kits to make installation easy and cost effective.
The limitations of IP-delivered services in conflict zones or developing countries
Although BFBS also delivers TV and Radio via the internet, it is important to fully understand the real world limitations of using the internet for video and live TV. JSP770, (ANNEX G TO CHAPTER 1 OF PART 2- JSP 770) suggests that welfare TV is easy to access via the internet or milsatcomms. In all probability, this isn't realistic.
Providing audio and video services via the internet (sometimes called IPTV) in developing countries and conflict zones is time consuming to arrange, can be very expensive and often unreliable. Military internet – DII or MilSatcomms – is not designed for the enormous data bandwidths demanded by IPTV, which are typically 100 times that needed for email or Facebook per user. It’s easy to see why IPTV over Scott terminals or FOBLInks would be unrealistically expensive. Similarly, TV over a shared local internet, wifi or 3G/4G is notoriously unreliable for more than a handful of users.
Whilst local broadband internet can work for IPTV in well-found locations (see Page 17 about the BFBS Player) the likelihood is that in developing locations and conflict zones prior to deployment of mature communications will be the locally available internet is unsuitable for live TV. Moreover, in some countries public internet is monitored and censored. Access to BFBS or other forms of TV and radio may be blocked by the host nation. There may be OpSec considerations where the identity of personnel, their devices and exact locations could be discoverable via the internet.