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Typical Boeing 702 satellite
More bandwidth could mean better quality

Millions of Americans use DirecTV's satellite network to enjoy digital programming. The shift from Standard Definition to High Definition has boosted demand for more bandwidth, especially for channels in 1080p. More bandwidth also reduces the need for signal compression, mitigating the risk of unsightly artifacts.

The company claims that their new DirecTV 12 satellite will boost their HD capacity by 50 percent and enable them to dish out more than 200 national HD channels and 1,500 local HD channels. DirecTV currently offers around 130 national HD channels.

DirecTV 12 is a model 702 satellite built by Boeing in El Segundo, California. It will join four other DirecTV satellites in broadcasting HD signals to North America, including Hawaii and Alaska. 131 national and spot-beam Ka-band transponders are used, while the payload includes two 9.2-foot reflectors and nine smaller antennas.

"With the successful launch of our DirecTV 12 satellite, we will have the capacity to dramatically expand HD and movie choices for our customers and further extend our content and technology leadership," said Romulo Pontual, DirecTV's Chief Technology Officer.

"With a robust fleet of 11 satellites, including five spacecraft delivering HD programming, advanced transmission and set-top box technology, we are able to provide our customers with an unparalleled viewing experience and maintain a significant competitive advantage for many years to come."

DirecTV 12 is currently being maneuvered into a circular orbit at 102.8 degrees West longitude for testing. It is expected to begin regular broadcast operations in the second quarter of 2010.

Dish Network, DirecTV's primary competitor, recently began broadcast operations on Nimiq 5, a Loral FS1300 satellite that uses 32 Ku-band transponders. That capacity was originally supposed to be used by Canadian satellite TV provider Bell TV, but a last minute deal resulted in Dish Network leasing that capacity instead. Meanwhile, Bell TV has resorted to heavy signal compression as it awaits the launch of a substitute satellite.

There are currently no plans by DirecTV for more satellites, according to a company spokesperson.



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RE: lets not be naieve
By tastyratz on 12/30/2009 3:48:41 PM , Rating: 2
Excellent points, I didn't even consider the 24p rate dropping down requirement down to less. Thank you for pointing that out.

Sat. based broadcast is moving to mpeg4 h.264 - but it is NOT all already there. Future channels and some existing ones are - but more often than not hd channels right now are all mpeg 2 as well.

Mpeg4 is certainly better and should have probably been adopted long ago by ALL parties. Cable is looking at it but Satellite has the jump on them there. They will probably all be mpeg4 before real catv rollout begins.

To clarify on your third point - each qam256 supports 38M however they fit 3 HD channels into that single space... so while each CHANNEL might not hit 38m, the 3 channel wide space will.

I also probably will never get Satellite myself due to service concerns. I have manually set up a dish myself (for fta) once and know JUST how finicky they are. I want my service reliable in all weather.

My personal choice here is not due to bias - I also have no allegiance to either technology and would love to see them drive each other to new heights.


RE: lets not be naieve
By Oregonian2 on 12/30/2009 4:10:15 PM , Rating: 2
From what I've read, only the legacy HD channels on DirecTv were MPEG-2 (rest all MPEG-4) and schedules had all of those MPEG-2 ones already long gone by now and switched over to MPEG-4.

I've had DirecTV for a long time and currently have three HD-DVRs throughout the house.


RE: lets not be naieve
By Spuke on 12/30/2009 4:17:40 PM , Rating: 2
I believe the only HD offering on MPEG2 is the 101 Network but that depends on which channel you're on. You can see the 101 Network on MPEG4 too.


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