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Satellite TV

Satellite TV

Over the last twenty years, satellite TV has exploded in popularity. As improvements have made satellite TV less cumbersome in its setup and increased the amount of content that is available for viewers, satellite TV has become an essential entertainment medium for the American public. Similar to broadcasting television, satellite television utilizes a wireless system that directly delivers television programming to a viewer's home. However, there are a number of reasons why satellite TV is able to transmit television programs clearer and with more programming than conventional broadcast television.

Signals From the Beyond
Both broadcast television and satellite TV transmit their television programming through a radio signal. However, broadcast television relies on powerful antennas to broadcast their television programming, which is then transmitted to viewers through a smaller receiving antenna.

Although broadcast television has been a consistently stable form of television transmission, the receiving antennas need to be in a direct line of sight with the larger broadcasting antenna. Usually, objects such as trees and small buildings do not cause a problem in interrupting the path between the broadcasting antenna and the receiving antenna. But the curvature of the Earth can disrupt the path between these two antennas. As a result of the general shape of the earth, broadcast television is relatively limited in its reach.

Satellite TV, on the other hand, utilizes television satellites that are situated in the geosynchronous orbit. What this means is that these television satellites are each individually launched into space at about 7,000 mph reaching a distance of approximately 22,200 miles above the earth. With these dimensions, these television satellites orbit around the Earth, broadcasting the television signal that they receive from satellite TV stations straight to the satellite dishes of receptive television watchers.

The satellites that are used by satellite TV programmers mirror the Earth's orbit ensuring that they orbit the Earth in the same time that it takes the Earth to rotate. The benefit of this for satellite TV subscribers and owners is that their satellite dish needs to be directed at the broadcasting satellites only once during installation. Following installation, a viewer's private satellite dish will pick up the broadcasting signal without ever having to adjust the physical receiving satellite dish.

The Clearer Picture
Due to the advanced technology that it uses, satellite TV is able to solve the problems of range and distortion that limits broadcast (conventional) television. Utilizing its powerful broadcasting satellites, satellite TV is able to reach a substantial amount of customers in the line of sight of each individual broadcasting satellite. Much like how broadcast television use a powerful antenna to broadcast its television programming to smaller receiving antennas, satellite TV uses powerful broadcasting satellites that transmit its content to specialized antennas known as satellite dishes.

As satellite TV programmers have become more comfortable refining the existing technology, the range of satellite TV content has increased. Early satellite TV owners were able to use the capabilities of satellite technology to access unique programming that usually was not intended for mass audiences. Through their satellite dish and receiving equipment, these early viewers were able to access foreign television stations, NASA activity and other visual content that was transmitted through satellites.

However, in this day and age, satellite TV has been tabbed as the next media set to explode in popularity. Most satellite TV viewers receive their content through a direct broadcast satellite (DBS) provider. The largest DBS providers are Direct TV and the Dish Network. These providers are able to select television programs that they broadcast to subscribers as a set package.

Each satellite package that these DBS providers are able to offer to subscribers contain hundreds of television channels. In competing with cable television providers that utilize broadcast television, these DBS providers are able to use the satellite technology to give its viewers better picture and sound quality in their programming. Additionally, each DBS provider guarantees that each broadcast that they offer is completely in digital.

Sit Back and Enjoy the Show
In terms of television content, satellite TV providers obtain their programming through national turnaround channels and local channels. National turnaround channels include such specialty channels as: ESPN, the country's most popular all-sports channel; CNN, the country's first and most acclaimed 24-hours news network; and HBO, the channel responsible for such popular television programs as The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Six Feet Under.

These networks, combined with local channels including the big 4 of television channels (NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox), ensures that satellite TV subscribers are able to obtain the largest amount of television programming compared to other forms of television broadcasting.

Additionally, satellite TV offers viewers the freedom to choose their content. Whereas cable TV programming options are limited to whichever conglomerate owns the broadcasting rights to that region, which allows them to stipulate channel options and prices, satellite TV offers viewers a substantial amount of programming options. Also, the presence of two major DBS providers ensures that TV lovers will be able to obtain the channel options that they crave at optimal prices.

Making a Splash
To understand the impact of satellite TV, it is important for interested subscribers to understand the five major components that are involved in a direct to home (DTH) satellite system. A DTH satellite system is composed of five major components that provide its subscribers with the most programming options at the highest of visual and sound quality.

1. Programming sources: These are the channels that provide programming for broadcast in which the provider does not produce the original programming itself. Rather, the provider obtains the rights to broadcast television programming created by companies via satellite.

2. Broadcast center: This is where the television provider receives signals from programming sources that are then transmitted as a broadcast signal to the satellites that are situated in the geostationary orbit.

3. Satellites: These are the instruments that receive the broadcast signal from the broadcast station and then rebroadcast these signals to the ground.

4. Satellite dish: Each satellite TV subscriber owns a satellite dish that receives the broadcast signals from the satellites in the geostationary orbit, which then passes these signals on to the receiver in the viewer's home.

5. Receiver: This is the instrument that processes the broadcast signal and passes it on to a standard television that displays the programming for the viewer's pleasure.

The Future is Now
Often described as the next generation of television availability, satellite TV has redefined how television content is received to the pleasure of TV lovers that have grown discontented with the limited options available to them through conventional cable TV packages. With the advent of satellite TV, viewers are able to receive specialty programming that contains channels completely dedicated to sports, old movies and even an all biography channel.

Recent statistics have shown that, currently, approximately ten percent of all American households receive their television content through satellite. However, as innovations in satellite TV have made it easier to install and to add television content, it is believed that this figure will double in the coming years.

With these innovations and improvements continuing, there is no telling how much satellite TV will improve on the sound quality, visual quality, programming range and viewer accessibility that is involved in general television watching.

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