This article is from the Satellite TV FAQ, by Gary Bourgois email@example.com with numerous contributions by others.
While many of us dream of the BIGGEST dish possible, for some reason I can
not fully comprehend (except that it has to do with Wives and Neighbors) some
folks want a teensy tiny dish. Obviously a small dish will not bring you the
joys of the chase, or the WIDE variety of things those of us with full
capability systems enjoy, but as they say, different strokes for different
For C band, a 7 foot dish will give very useful performance these days. If
you are primarily interested in just cable type stuff, a 4 or 5 foot dish
will bring you reasonable reception on some of the more powerful C band
satellites (Like G5, home of the SCI FI CHANNEL) and a 3 footer will bring in
some of the more powerful KU satellites. A caller to my Friday Night Live
Satellite Talk Show said he was listening on a 2 foot dish.
BUT even smaller dishes are available now. A new venture featuring
120 watt transponders from a fixed location has started operation. This new
service called DirectTV is backed by Hughes-Thompson-RCA, and will probably
succeed where SKYPIX did not. The system employs an 18 inch dish, and a
special addressable receiver. This receiver will NOT receive other
satellites, ONLY the one fixed system it is designed for. It will be fully
addressable, AND basically DirectTV is nothing more than a CABLE COMPANY
IN THE SKY. Your receiver won't work if you don't pay the monthly bill,
which will could run you MORE than cable depending on your options.
Pay Per View movies will also be available, probably for $4 each or there-
abouts. The hardware will cost you between $700 to over $1000 just to have
the priviledge of PAYING for EVERYTHING YOU WATCH. You can scrounge a
TVRO (big dish) system for the same or less, and see PLENTY of FREE stuff.
For some people, though, DBS will be just the thing they have been waiting
for, especially those who can not get cable and WANT cable. These folks will
see the costs as justified, and won't mind dealing with only ONE source.
However, one thing to bear in mind. For now, DBS is a monopoly. It will not
be compatible with any other system, including all the millions of dishes and
receivers already in place.
Remember, if you can tolerate a larger dish, you can receive over 200 video
and HUNDREDS of audio channels for FREE, no monthly charge. We personally
feel this is a greater value, and if you DO want premium or pay programming
it is ALL available already NOW with a conventional satellite system, which
can be had for very little money when you come right down to it.
Still, we do believe that DirectTV will probably be a big hit. In Europe, the
ASTRA satellite system has revolutionized the distribution of TV shows.
Cable did not have a very strong foothold there in most countries, and there
are thousands of ASTRA systems being sold every month. We expect this will
happen in the USA as well. What it means to the present satellite industry
remains to be seen, but we know this much: Nothing stays the same especially
when it comes to SATELLITE TV.
A consideration: at present there are TWO different DBS systems, DSS and
PRIMESTAR. They use two totally incompatible methods of signal delivery.
Other DBS systems are on the horizon. Those first on the market are not
always the ones that survive. Remember the Quasar Great Time Machine VCR?
Remember BETAMAX? Remember the SELECTAVISION CED VIDEODISK that played with
a needle? Remember 8 Track audio tapes? Early adopters sometimes get left
holding the bag.
A third DBS system is slated to arrive in late 1995 or early 1996, run by
Charlie Ergen. This venture will be called ECHOSTAR. As of now, it is
not known what technology he will use. It could very well be a THIRD
incompatible system! In any case, since the DBS dishes do not move, even
if they were compatible systems, you are pretty well locked into ONE supplier
of audio and video, and you PAY for it all.
With a BUD or TVRO, you can chose from MANY different suppliers, and also you
have a ton of FREE channels.
For more information about DBS, get the DBS FAQ. If you have USENET ACCESS
you should FIRST look in rec.video.satellite.dbs
If you absolutely can not find it there, then and only then write to the
Rich Peterson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This FAQ discusses the new and forthcoming DBS systems, primarily DirectTV.
You will find it very informative.