The Technology Behind Satellite TV

Anyone who has gone through the process of trying to choose a new television provider knows how frustrating it can be to try to understand how the different television systems work. One of the best to use but more difficult to understand systems is satellite TV. However, even satellite service can be broken down into basic terms.

If you take a drive around the United States these days you will see satellite dishes all over the country. Rural farms, college dorms, suburban homes, and big city apartments are all set up with small personal dishes- nice improvements over the massive dishes from the past. Satellite service is rapidly expanding because of the quality it offers to users.

Television providers who broadcast via satellite are known as direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers. They purchase content from major television channels, including local channels, premium sports channels like ESPN, and movie channels like HBO and Cinemax. Channels are then packaged into different batches so consumers can purchase content packages to fit their preferences.

Channels are broadcast using radio waves, which travel straight and thus need a line of sight connection between broadcaster and receiver. Because of the curvature of the earth there is no possible direct ground-based line of sight connection between DBS providers and the personal receivers all over the country. This is where the satellite comes in.

“Geosynchronous” satellites orbit the earth at the same speed as it rotates. Thus, they stay in relatively the same place above the earth all the time, allowing a personal dish to always be directed straight towards its geosynchronous satellite, which is approximately 22,000 miles up in the sky. DBS providers route their programming up to the satellite, which then bounces the signals down to thousands of personal dishes across the United States.

The signals that are sent between the personal dishes and the geosynchronous satellite are Ku band radio waves. Signals used to be a lower frequency radio wave but in order to provide crisper images and sharper sound the switch was made to Ku band radio waves. These communicate at a higher frequency. What this means to consumers is that it allows higher quality signals to be sent back and forth. This allows viewers to receive high definition television signals.

Satellites can distribute high-def television signals across the country much more easily than other providers can. This provides a home TV experience that’s like being in a movie theater. With digital surround sound, incredibly crisp images, and a cinematic aspect ratio, there’s a huge boost for every football game, TV show, or movie.

One of the more common concerns that consumers have with satellite television has to do with the quality of the signal. However, inclement weather should rarely affect it much. Studies have shown that the satellite should provide a clear digital signal 99.96% of the time. A bigger concern is satellite placement. For a clean signal, the satellite needs a clear view of the sky.

As a consumer, it’s always preferable to know how something works before deciding whether or not it’s right for yourself. Hopefully this makes satellite service just a bit clearer.

Source by Carina Brantley

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