In the Philippines, we have 3 competing satellite TV services: Cignal, Dream, and GSAT. For Dream and GSAT (at least the last time I checked), if you want to have multiple receivers in your house, you have to pay for separate subscriptions for each receiver (at full price). For post-paid customers, Cignal will let you have up to 3 receivers on the same plan, with no extra monthly charges for the additional receivers (assuming you buy the receivers yourself).
Cignal provides a single-output LNBF with their dish, and multiple receiver installations typically use splitters to take the single output and connect to 2 or 3 receivers. When I subscribed to a 3 receiver post-paid plan I asked about the splitter, but was told they didn’t have any Cignal supplied splitters, but the installer could provide one on his own. For an exorbitant price. I don’t recall how much, but it was much more than the P575 ($14 USD) listed on Cignal’s website.
Splitting the output from a satellite LNBF isn’t ideal for several reasons. For one, the polarity of the LNBF changes depending on the transponder of the channel you’re tuned into. It works for Cignal because they use the same polarity for all of their transponders. Another issue is the power supply. The LNBF is powered by the receiver, and multiple receivers all trying to power the same LNBF can sometimes cause complications. This was seen during their recent firmware upgrade, with special (complicated) instructions for multiple receiver subscribers.
While Cignal doesn’t provide Quad LNBFs or support them, it’s the best way to do a multiple receiver installation in my opinion. With a Quad LNBF, there are 4 outputs instead of 1. So its kind of like having 4 separate satellite dishes, except it accomplishes the same thing with a single dish and 4 outputs on the LNBF. Why install multiple dishes all pointed to the same satellite?
With a Quad LNBF you run a separate RG-6 cable from the dish to each receiver.
I initially bought a Pauxis Quad Universal LNBF locally, but after a year it broke and I wasn’t able to receive all of the channels. So I just replaced it with a DMS International Quad Universal LNBF. Here you can see the old Pauxis LNBF on the left and the new DMSI LNBF on the right.
Since they’re difficult to find locally, I ordered the new LNBF online from The Satellite Shop and had it shipped via USPS (shipping from the US to the Philippines took 1 1/2 weeks which must be some kind of record). I ordered the JSC324-2 model though they actually sent me the newer KSC324-2 model instead (which was nice).
By the way, if you create an account there to make a purchase, check your email before completing your order. They sent me a $10 coupon, which I applied to my order which helped make up for the high shipping cost (which was more than the LNBF itself). Total cost was $67.14 USD shipped (PHP 2,750). Here’s the new “Avenger” model they sent me.
With the new LNBF installed, I’m able to receive all of the channels again. I just have the P390 SD plan ($9.50 USD) that has 25 channels which includes HBO Asia and CNN Asia. That’s a pretty good deal especially considering I get 3 receivers included in that price. Cignal’s most expensive plan is currently P1590 ($38.70 USD) which includes HD channels as well.
Here’s some snapshots of the signal test screen.
Sometimes the signal strength is higher, depending on the transponder.
The signal quality is better now since they started using the new SES 7 satellite vs. NSS 11. You can see the SES 7 footprint here provides for better coverage for Luzon, whereas NSS 11 had better coverage for the southern islands (footprint here).
Addendum (August 5, 2013)
My Cignal setup includes 3 of these Homecast standard definition receivers.
Its just what Cignal was offering at the time. They work pretty well, for the most part.
On the positive side, the audio/video playback is smooth with no glitching or dropouts. I had a different model prepaid receiver before this that would experience audio or video dropouts off and on (usually once or twice an hour).
On the negative side, the new receivers don’t save the channel or volume settings when they’re unplugged or there’s a power outage that effects them (whereas the old model would start up on the channel you left it on). This is mainly an issue when I’ve got a recording scheduled and there’s a power outage.
Also, the new receivers display a small black bar on the bottom of the screen that’s a little annoying, though if you’ve got enough overscan on your TV you might not notice it.
On a side note, I’ve found that if you leave a receiver unplugged long enough, it loses its activation, and then you’ve got to leave it plugged in long enough for it to reactivate itself (several hours, or overnight) or you need to call customer service.
One of my receivers I leave on all the time, and a second one is usually on for a few hours in the evening — no problem with either of those. But one of the units in a bedroom rarely gets used and it lost its activation several times while plugged into an AVR and left off most of the time. I fixed that by just plugging it directly into the wall and leaving it powered up all the time.
Overall I’m pretty happy with Cignal. I’ve got 3 receivers and a decent selection of channels for P390 a month.
November 2016 Update
One of my 3 Cignal Homecast receivers died. It’s been over a year already, but I haven’t bothered to replace it, yet. Everything I watch these days is all streaming.
The KSC324-2 Universal Ku-Band Quad LNBF is still working fine, though. And the receiver my wife watches on gets used almost every evening.
I noticed that The Satellite Shop that I got my Quad LNBF from isn’t carrying it anymore. If you’re looking for one, try searching other places, like Amazon: Avenger Universal Ku Band Quad LNBF KSC324-2 ($25).
June 2018 Update
It's been some time already that 2 of my 3 Cignal receivers have been broken. The Quad LNBF is still working fine, though, and the one remaining receiver is enough for now, since the other two were rarely used.
Also, while accurate in 2012 when this article was originally posted, in 2018, I've noticed Cignal has different sorts of plans and options for multiple receivers (which may involve additional fees). You'll want to check with them to get up to date information on their service offerings.