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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: Big Deal... Who needs HD infomercial channels?
By Oregonian2 on 12/30/2009 3:57:04 PM , Rating: 2
Just a comment that I think that many of the channels complained about (informericals and things like HSN shopping channels) probably don't cost anything and would be freebies in a cafeteria plan, and because of that included in everybody's plan by default if wanted or not.

Right now there is a cafeteria plan for the spendy channels, just not for the cheap ones. Meaning the movie channel packages and the sports packages.

We've currently a hybrid model (at least on DirecTV which I've had since about the time they sent up their first satellite (which causes them to give me crummy renewal deals, knowing that I'll sign up anyway)).

RE: Big Deal... Who needs HD infomercial channels?
By Motoman on 12/30/2009 11:15:42 PM , Rating: 2
They cost *something* - they're not made out of pixie dust by Keebler elves living in a tree.

They would, however, instantly go off the air if anyone had to voluntarily pay for them. Good riddance.

RE: Big Deal... Who needs HD infomercial channels?
By DarthKaos on 12/31/2009 10:17:48 AM , Rating: 2
The sales of the TV time to the products being sold is how those channels make all their money. I am sure they don't get much if anything from DirecTV.

By Oregonian2 on 12/31/2009 2:26:22 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly my point. They probably PAY DirecTV for the "airtime" that their (effectively) commercials use.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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