This article is from the Digital Broadcast Satellites FAQ, by Brian Trosko email@example.com with numerous contributions by others.
The short answer is that nobody knows. It would require fairly
substantial hardware investments on the part of the broadcasters,
and they are unlikely to do such a thing without a sizable
population of subscribers to take advantage of them.
That said, it probably will happen eventually, because AC-3
is about as standard as things get. It is the current
standard for laserdisc, and also for DVD, which is expected
to replace laserdisc players, pre-recorded VHS tapes, and CDs.
In any event, no current DBS receivers have built-in AC-3 outputs.
It has been speculated that the Toslink output on the SAS-AD2 Sony system
could act as an AC-3 port when the time is right, but nobody is sure.
What seems most likely is that AC-3 data could be passed on to an
external convertor/decoder through the data ports that are present on most