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If you’re an American expat, not only in Dominica, but anywhere, you might find a “comfort zone” in having access to American television programs. It turns out that there’s a way to do it, using the Internet and something called a Sling box. Here’s how it works:

The box is installed at a facility in the US, and you have (pay for) a US subscription to a cable TV service that feeds into the box.

From abroad, you have ability to access an IP audio/video stream from the box to your computer. (You can display you PC screen on your TV and hear the sound on your stereo, if you have the PC outputs, cables and know-how.)

You use software (SlingPlayer) to control your Sling box from your PC. The software essentially turns your PC into a remote and a set-top box.

You can, as with any US cable subscription, choose basic content or premium. There’s also a digital video recorder (DVR) option, which may come in handy if there’s a very significant time difference between the zone where the box is located and where you are.

This is an Internet Protocol (IP) stream, so you must have decent speed Internet service and shouldn’t expect full high-definition (HD) television – reception is sort of like color TV was up until the 1990s. That’s often all right, but a letdown when the broadcaster expects you to be watching in HD and shows things you simply don’t have the screen resolution to view them.

Premium programming always contains music streams, but you can always get those for free over the Internet anyhow.

I’ve found two companies offering Sling box service. They are HABU (Hook a Brother Up) and A to B Television. On the web, respectively, they’re at www.habu.tv and www.a2btv.com. They both offer a free tryout demo of an hour or two and/or extended for-pay demos. You must download and install the SlingPlayer software on your PC, which both companies allow you to do for free.

It’s still cable, which means you get lots of channels you don’t care about for a fixed price and scheduled programs (or you can record them). I think that having what you want when you want it and paying for nothing else using the Internet would be better, but even in the US TV/PC integration is incomplete. And you

can’t stream some content to an outside of the US location – I’ve tried that with Netflix, and even with a virtual private network (VPN) package like AnchorFree running on my PC, Netflix seems to know I’m not in the US and won’t stream a movie to me

And don’t even think about having your own satellite TV dish. (Why not is beyond the scope of this article, but, trust me, it’s not an option.)

So, for now, it’s local cable and fairly low cost or HABU or a2b at their prices (see the web sites) PLUS the US cable subscription price and any pay-per-view offered at considerably more. Your choice and your priorities.

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6 Comments »

Comment by Joel Halfwassen Subscribed to comments via email
2011-03-31 10:23:51

I had to laugh at this when I first read the title. My thought was, “I don’t watch TV in the USA now, why would I want to watch it in Dominica!” But the reality is that occasionally I want to catch CSPAN, ESPN, or some other cable specialty for some sort of live event. I can see how I would miss it (it IS NCAA tournament time right now!).

And I am going to say it…Please do a follow-up article on why satellite TV is not a option. You have piqued my curiosity.

Joel

 
Comment by Dan Tanner
2011-03-31 11:42:28

Both local cable TV companies carry ESPN and ESPN2. Not CSPAN as far as I know. (PBS had a great documentary on how rotten the NCAA is, by the way.)

TV satellites have focused antennae. They don’t cover where we are well at all. The satellites also would lack the bandwidth to send TV signals to individual subscribers.

A big plus with the technology I posted about is the presence of a set-top box (actually, its on-screen equivalent) that allows you to see a schedule, record, etc.). Here with the local providers you just turn the TV on and surf. Usually you get a repeat. I haven’t seen a day in 3 years when one or more of a few movies aren’t repeated. And finally, the “Caribbean package” the local carriers offer is focused culturally on the local demographic.

Also you get both AMC and Showtime. Here one provider carries AMC and the other Showtime; neither offers both. Most of all, for us, PBS. Here one carrier preempts PBS for Carnival & cricket, and the other has problems with no content on the PBS channel at all sometimes or no sound on it at other times. (By “at times” I mean about 80% of the time.)

 
Comment by Dan Tanner
2011-03-31 19:36:26

My bad! I was sent an e-mail from someone who tried to get direct satellite dish here. The following is an e-mail he got in reply:

“The costing is just for the Regular Digital Receiver, HD is not available in Dominica, the channels are on our south beam therefore you will not be able to access it.

We do have the DVR without HD, the cost is 200.00US per box and the subscription cost for 6 months will be 324.00US.”

I notice that they don’t offer Showtime, and the contents do not appear to be what an expat might be seeking in my opinion.

Apparently they don’t offer the antenna or set-up in Dominica.

 
Comment by Dan Tanner
2011-09-15 11:59:22

Hold everything! Oh, Joy!!!

Netflix is now available in Dominica.

 
Comment by Dan Tanner
2011-09-15 19:23:15

Not so fast! The Netflix content s restricted to a fraction of what’s available in the USA. But the price is the USA price. That’s not fair.

 
Comment by Dan Tanner
2011-09-15 21:30:42

And it gets worse! All the content is Spanish language only. The movies are dubbed into Spanish. You can’t get English language content.

 
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