For many Americans across the country the only way to get HD channels or a decent TV signal altogether is to go with satellite TV. The two main players in the satellite TV arena are Dish Network and DirecTV.
Dish Network is currently tailing DirecTV in the amount of HD channels that its service offers. In an effort to better compete with DirecTV on HD offering Dish Network attempted to launch a new satellite to increase its available bandwidth to be able to expand its HD channel line up from the approximately 50 HD channels available now to a proposed 70-100.
The AMC-14 satellite took off Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on Friday. While the Proton rocket launch vehicle launched successfully, the AMC-14 platform failed to reach its desired orbit.
Echostar, Dish Network's parent company, is insured for any full or partial failure of the satellite.
Broadcasting & Cable reports that International Launch Services (ILS) and a Russian state commission are investigating the failure of the satellite. Broadcasting & Cable quotes Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett saying, “Dish Network had made it clear that HD featured prominently in their own future plans, and that they did not plan to cede ‘video superiority’ to anyone. Given the long lead times involved in contracting for, building, and launching a satellite, however, it could take years for Dish Network to fully recover.”
SES AMERICOM, the company responsible for operating the satellite, believes it can boost the platform into orbit at the expense of diminishing its service live.
Dish has another pair of satellites scheduled to launch later this year, but they are to be used for local HD channels using spot-beam technology whereas AMC-14 was for non-local HD channels. DailyTech reported in October of 2007 that AT&T had plans to acquire Dish Network. Neither AT&T nor Echostar would comment on how the failed satellite will affect a potential sale.