It’s bad news for Canadian RVers travelling south of the border. Late last year, Bell ExpressVu changed satellites and the new satellite footprint only covers a small band of the northern US, not at all the area most snowbirds travel to. Rumor has it that part of the reason for this change of satellites was a condition of the contract renewal for Bell to rebroadcast Dish Network’s programming. Evidently the Americans are not impressed when you lobby aggressively to keep them from doing business in your country. Have a look at Bell new footprint at the Telesat dot com website. Since my wife and I do most of our motorhome travel to the US, I’m very disappointed that my Bell receiver is now pretty much a boat anchor.
Since the second receiver charge from Bell is only a few dollars a month, this was the most cost effective way for Canadian RVers to have satellite TV in their rigs. However, these RVers have always been hassled by Bell if there is any kind of a whiff that you’re receiving signals in the US, actually cutting off your service if you called in on a US number, connected the receiver to a US phone line, or even inquired about using your receiver south of the border. Star Choice (now Shaw) has been more reasonable, but their programming and interface left something to be desired when I looked at their offering a few years ago. Which makes Shaw a good option, right? Well, maybe not so much. Shaw’s satellites require a larger elliptical dish to receive the signal, especially farther south in the US. If in-motion viewing is important to motorhomers, you’re out of luck because there are no in-motion domes that will work with Shaw.
This leaves you with a couple of options. You can completely replace an existing in-motion dome with an automatic or manual motorized larger dish. The downside here, aside from the loss of in-motion signal, is that your dish’s mechanical parts will be exposed to the elements. The other alternative is to buy another dish mounted on a tripod that you will need to set up at every stop. Obviously a hassle to do, plus the larger dish will eat up valuable storage space that is always at a premium.
Shaw might be a temporary fix anyway, because they’re planning a satellite change in the next year or two which may involve a Canada-only footprint.
Thankfully, the entrepreneurial Americans are ready to take your money. Check out the traveller’s subscriptions available from Dish Network or DirecTV. You can go month to month and they’re happy to take your Canadian credit card and address. The nice thing about this option is your existing automatic in-motion dish will probably be set up to allow you to easily switch to a US provider. My suggestion is to cancel your Canadian home satellite provider for the months you’re travelling in the US, and use a US carrier. Just remember that you may have to give 30 days’ notice to suspend, so plan early.
But what about the Canadian news? Well, technology now provides you with multiple ways to get that news through other devices such as smartphones or tablets. You can even now get a smart TV that connects to the internet wirelessly, so the largest screen can switch between broadcast signals and internet streaming video without you having to leave the couch. Pass the snacks, dear.