Free to Air decoders are any type of decoder or set top box that receives Free to Air Digital TV and Radio channels that are Free to Air. You are not required to pay any amount of money after buying this decoder. In other words its a buy and forget decoder. This is different from pay TV like Gotv and Star-times because you will need to pay monthly subscriptions. Examples of free to air set top boxes are Hotpoint, Yaojin, Microville, Rockdale and Hbox. Its obvious free to air channels cannot make money by charging you to view their content. So how do the local free to air TV stations make money? They compete for your eyes glued to their TV station for longer amounts of time and sell some of that time to advertisers who pay handsomely for even 30 seconds. The problem now is that there are a lot of local TV stations competing for your attention and this will bring advertising prices down. But this is a big advantage to the Consumer because of the wider variety of channels as compared to only a few in the Analog era.
All of the free to air TV stations currently in Kenya do not carry their own signals, they have Signal distributors like PANG and Signet distribute their signal all over the country. This is different from free to View TV as you will see shortly.
A Free to View decoder on the other hand is a set top box that is manufactured specifically to view a few premium channels without any subscription fee on the consumers part. In most cases the Free to view decoder will also access all available free to air channels as well. Free to View TV operators must have a free to view license in order to distribute their content country wide. The best example of a free to view decoder as well as provider is Bamba TV. Like before, the aim of Bamba TV is to get as many viewers as possible because many viewers translate to better advertising revenue.
The other example of a free to view decoder is the Open View HD decoder from South Africa.Open view uses satellite to distribute their TV channels. Satellite has an advantage that it has a much wider coverage area than terrestrial transmission. For example Open View use the SES5 satellite, which is exactly what Zuku uses. This satellite has a coverage of the whole of sub Saharan Africa from South Africa at the bottom to Ethiopia in the North and from Sierra Leon in the West to Northern Somalia in the East. You can view the beam here. What I mean is that you can view all the Open View HD channels available right here in Kenya, all you need is the Open View HD decoder from South Africa.
Whatever the type of decoder, the consumer is the outright winner. In my own opinion Bamba TV is offering a much better deal because of the Bamba channels as well as all the available free to air TV stations.