The term ‘satellite TV’ can lead to confusion, since most television is enabled by satellite technology. Satellites have long been used to relay TV signals to cable providers, and networks and TV production facilities routinely distribute their programming via satellite. Satellite TV, as it is most commonly used today (and as it will be used on this site), refers to direct-to-home satellite television. Direct-to-home satellite broadcast service is satellite TV designed for home or subscription use.
Direct to Home Satellite TV
Satellite TV for the home launched in the late 80s and gained in popularity throughout the 90s. The industry is now booming, and satellite TV competes head-to-head with cable TV companies in terms of price, service and technology. Currently, satellite TV providers DIRECTV and DISH Network dominate the U.S. satellite TV market, combining to serve over 30 million satellite TV customers.
With subscription satellite TV services, data from a communication satellite is encrypted or scrambled and requires company-authorized equipment in order to view. This enables satellite TV providers to deliver specific channels and package options to individual residences. Satellite TV channels are 100 percent digital quality.
Satellite TV Availability
Satellite TV is available virtually anywhere there’s a clear view of the southern sky. For this reason, satellite TV is commonly found in rural areas, and is also used for on-board entertainment in cars and airplanes. For best reception, a satellite TV dish must have a clear signal from the satellite in orbit. This means that the area surrounding a receiving dish should be free from trees or other obstructions. Mountainous terrains and severe weather events can also lead to problems with receiving satellite TV signals.
Satellite TV Equipment
If you order satellite TV, you’ll need a satellite dish and a receiver. A satellite dish may be as small as 24 inches or as large as 1.5 meters, depending on the strength of the satellite signal in your area. You’ll have the option to either lease or purchase this equipment, which will be professionally installed for optimal performance.
Receivers are the devices that connect to your TV to translate the satellite signal into what you see on your screen. Satellite TV receivers often come with HD or DVR capabilities, and higher-end receivers will also enable you to integrate your television with your mobile devices and the Internet.
A subset of direct broadcast satellite service is FTA or free to air TV. Different equipment will be required for this service.