HDTV Satellite Service - Satellite HDTV System

There are a number of ways of obtaining HDTV programming and one of these is via satellite. In the US, the first HDTV satellite to be launched was by DirecTV closely followed by the Dish Network. If you are a subscriber to either of these services, HDTV programming is available to you no matter where in the US that you live.

There is a slight downside to broadcasting HDTV via satellite as it uses a lot more bandwidth than normal digital broadcasts. Each satellite only has a certain amount of bandwidth in which to broadcast and as all local channels, which often total in the hundreds, must be broadcast separately and not together, the satellite has it's work cut out trying to accommodate all of these channels within it's allocated bandwidth.

Due to this problem, consumers require an over the air antenna add-on in order to receive their HDTV signals. Satellite HDTV providers are only too aware of this and try to come up with ways to encourage their customers to want to invest in the service. Many offer a variety of HDTV channels broadcast nationally, such as the East and West coast feeds of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. There is a slight problem with this option from a legal standpoint in as much that these feeds are only available in certain rural, suburban and metropolitan areas.

The good news though is that changes are in the works to greatly improve satellite television broadcasting with the appearance of a new product called MPEG-4 AVC. This is a video compression technology which will allow for twice as much HD video in the same amount of bandwidth than is possible with the currently available MPEG 2 compression standard. The MPEG-4 standard makes it possible for the bandwidth available on satellite television to be greatly increased.

Another development that also guarantees more success in this area is the fact that new satellites have been deployed into space. For instance, Dish Network obtained a satellite from the VOOM service and in April 2005 DirecTV launched the first of a proposed four satellites.

Subscribers to satellite services will reap many benefits from the introduction of MPEG-4. DirecTV has plans to make 1,500 local HDTV stations as well as 150 national HD networks available by 2007. What this means for customers is that everyone everywhere will have access to every national HDTV network and every local HDTV channel that are available. At the time of writing, Dish Network has not made any MPEG-4 plans public but the company have promised their customers that good things are in the works.

Both DirecTV and Dish Network satellite services currently employ the use of satellite dishes and set top boxes but with the advent of MPEG-4 these will not be compatible and will have to be replaced. At this time, it is unclear whether both companies subscribers will have to pay a fee for the upgrade or whether the new equipment will be provided to them free of charge.

DirecTV began to introduce their new MPEG-4 services and hardware for HDTV via satellite during the latter part of 2005. The first twelve markets to be privy to DirecTV’s MPEG-4 service included New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and Tampa. Dish Network has not, at the time of writing, released any information to the media about its plans in regards to MPEG-4 services in HDTV programming.

If you are interested in subscribing to the satellite service provided by either the Dish Network or DirecTV, your first step should be to get in touch with your local satellite installer and request an HD capable installation. Some companies will extend deals or value packages such as free installation for HDTV to new customers while some will go even further and will provide HD capable receivers free of charge.

If you are already a satellite customer, you need to ascertain if the satellite dish you currently have installed is capable of receiving HDTV signals and if not, a change is in order. After you have worked through the above situations it will then be necessary to obtain an HD receiver in order to decipher the satellite’s HDTV signals.