The service, developed by the BBC and ITV, is designed to encourage takeup of free to air satellite in a manner similar to the success enjoyed by digital terrestrial's Freeview brand. Freesat's electronic programme guide, programme metadata and interactive services will operate entirely independently of those provided to Sky digiboxes, and pre-launch marketing materials from the service indicate that approximately 80 television and radio channels have obtained a Freesat EPG slot for launch - a relatively small proportion of the total number of free satellite TV channels.
Set-top receivers made to the Freesat spec, and to be marketed using the Freesat brand, will include a high definition model made by Humax; non-HD and HD models from Goodmans, Bush and Grundig; and various products from Panasonic. Other manufacturers will be licensed to make receiver products at a later stage.
The launch retailers for the service are Comet, Argos, John Lewis and DSG, whose outlets include Currys and PC World.
Prices are expected to range from around £50 for a standard definition set-top box and £120 for an HD model. Launch retailers will also arrange installation for an additional charge.
None are sanctioned to sell the receivers until May 6, though some people have managed to purchase products and have shared their insights on the Freesat forum.