Smart Cards

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Smart Cards

Smart cards are issued by most broadcasters to allow access to their service. This includes the free-to-air broadcasters, ABC, SBS and the satellite commercials.

These smart cards control access to services on a service-by-service basis and is generally independent of the receiver that it is used with. Some of the newer services increase their security by tying cards to receivers. This means, under these circumstances, cards cannot be moved between boxes. This is particularly the case with the new VAST receivers where the broadcasters have elected to increase program security.

Encryption Explained

Following on from the counter piracy activities of broadcasters, we now all have to live with broadcasters protecting their signals. For those who have migrated from pirate cards, it is now payback time and we all have to endure the fall out.

At the outset, understand we are the messenger, so do not shoot us. Our objective is to explain how it works to the layman and what you need to do manage the situation.

  • Conditional access cards are with us to stay so let's get used to it. There is no longer a free lunch.
  • Free-to-air commercial broadcasters have their patch to protect, for many reasons including copyright and license provisions. These guys now rigorously enforce their application for access. The message is do it right and there are no problems.
  • Videosat now has a subscription Customer Care plan to support you and to look after the nuts and bolts of these issues.
  • Broadcasters cycle codes regularly, mostly monthly, but some each 2 weeks and some much more often.
  • If your equipment is off when codes are changed, you will get a scrambled message when you first turn back on. This message will stay until your receiver decodes the relevant signal.

Many operators and broadcasters include channels that are open access, that is, you do not need a card to view them. This includes the Optus Tuning Channel, NITV channel (Aurora ch31), Arrow FM, and pay TV.

K, the OPTUS C1 channel 1 tuning channel is not encrypted. On Aurora Channel, it is a promotional channel and is not encrypted. Use these services to make sure you are lined up on the correct satellite and have a picture.

Encryption codes are set for each service and each transponder. Not all services come up at the same time. Optus now take 8 hours to cycle, so if you are wanting that special program, make sure your have been locked on to satellite and receiving programming prior to the big event.

If you're an infrequent viewer of your satellite, turn it on the day before you need to view.

All Videosat and Campersat equipment uses proper Optus cards with full aftersales service and Videosat has always used authorized Optus cards and arranged authorization prior to delivery. Each card is clearly serial-numbered.

Videosat offers new Optus cards to users who have been bitten by piracy. An Authorization service is also available. - see Customer Care.

Optus Smart Card Information

Activation of Optus Aurora Smartcards needs viewers (or Campersat) to complete the Aurora Smartcard Activation Request Form and email to or fax to 1300 555 221.

If email or fax facilities are unavailable to you, you can activate your smartcard by phoning us on 1300 301 680, however, you may experience difficulties leaving a message on this number.

Correct Operation of Your Set Top Box

To maintain your set top box operation in synchronism with any changes to the Aurora system, it is advisable to where possible:

  • Leave the set top box connected to power and the receiving satellite dish.
  • The set top box may be left in the stand by mode if not in use. This enables the set top box to receive any updates to system information as they occur.

Failure to follow this practice may result in loss of service for a period until the box receives the latest updated information. This problem is most likely to occur if you reactivate your box after a lengthy period of disconnection.

About VAST

VAST stands for View Access Satellite Television.

In Essence:

This is a significant breakthrough in the provision of digital TV services to all Australians, particularly for those in remote and regional areas who for many years have had to put up with less choice than people in the cities.

The new service will provide digital TV services to viewers in eastern Australia who cannot receive terrestrial digital TV.

The Agreement:

  • is between the Australian government and broadcasters Southern Cross Media and Imparja to establish a joint venture company, Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST).
  • ensures access to free-to-air television for viewers in the remote Central and Eastern Australia license area.
  • It includes those in regional and metropolitan areas who are unable to receive their local TV services terrestrially. They will also be able to access the new service.
  • The new VAST service will, for the first time, make available to all parts of Australia the same number of channels as are available in the capital cities.
  • This includes programming in standard definition from the Seven, Nine and Ten networks and their new digital channels GO!, 7TWO and ONEHD, as well as all of the ABC and SBS channels, including ABC2, ABC3 and SBS TWO. The VAST service will also provide HD channels.

The service will be broken into 3 areas:

  • Northern service will operate in northern time zone, providing standard definition services for viewers in Queensland and the Northern Territory based on Brisbane time.
  • Southern Service will operate in Southern time zone, providing standard definition services for viewers in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania based on Sydney time.
  • The HD services will be provided in a combined zone, covering both the northern and southern zones.
  • A satellite service for Western Australian viewers, using the same Optus platform, is currently under negotiation with the remote area commercial TV licensees in Western Australia (Prime and WIN Television).
  • Viewers of the satellite service will be able to watch their local news services through a dedicated news channel.
  • State-based ABC and SBS news services would also be available on their respective channels.

About Optus Aurora 

The Optus Aurora system commenced some 10 years ago and completely shuts down. All references should be made in the VAST services.

The Optus Aurora system is designed to operate in an encrypted format, making use of smartcards, within the set top boxes, to decrypt the services applicable to the entitlements on the particular smartcard, held by the set top box. There are a few special instances where a small number of Aurora services are transmitted without encryption, allowing reception without a smartcard, but in general an official Optus Aurora smartcard is required for correct operation.

With the advent of VAST, Aurora may be phased out in the future, but still has years yet to run.


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