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DIRECTV Satellite Discussion D-14 @99W


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#226 OFFLINE   Tom Robertson

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 10:02 PM

well they can start by offering bars a deal when if you take a hd box we will help you pay some of cost of updating your switching system to HD.


You hit another key point: bars, hotels, offices and businesses that use DIRECTV for their music, private networks for companies, etc.

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Tom

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#227 OFFLINE   Coca Cola Kid

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 10:03 PM

Why is there no D13? Are they that superstitious?

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#228 OFFLINE   Tom Robertson

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 10:08 PM

Why is there no D13? Are they that superstitious?


D13 was licensed for satellite orbital slot 110° but DIRECTV surrendered that license, reverting to their existing license at that slot. So I presume they will not re-use that designation to avoid confusion.

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#229 OFFLINE   TheRatPatrol

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 10:30 PM

Never say never. :)

Oh I know I know. ;)

Listen to the wisdom of Sixto... ;)

And you too Tom. :D

#230 OFFLINE   georule

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 11:05 PM

Do they use the same STBs in Latin America as they do in the US?

I use to think as their growth curve flattened yet new model HD STBs rolled out, that'd help on the conversion end (rolling older HD STBs to replace SD STBs). But if LA is using the same equipment, and still growing rapidly. . . not so much.

#231 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 11:29 PM

To expand upon Rad's answer, there still would need to be several billion dollars spent on replacing dishes and receivers before everything could go MPEG4.

If they played it right, they could use the existing dishes. Move the non-lifeline CONUS and more small DMA LIL to Ka and start collapsing the Ku stuff to MPEG4 in the vacated space.

Those who wanted certain season packages (like NFLST or MLB EI) could be a nice small group to start with. Throw in a complete household update with each subscription.

Of course none of this can happen until they get all the DIRECTiVo customers fixed up with new Ka capable gear. ;)

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#232 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 11:32 PM

Do they use the same STBs in Latin America as they do in the US?

Mostly similar, but not identical. For one, the LA equipment doesn't seem to support RF remotes.

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#233 OFFLINE   inkahauts

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 02:11 AM

If Directv is going to use D15 for a replacement at say 101, would it make sense to make all channels mpeg4? sure it would be nice to have all replaced with HD, but we all know that isn't going to happen. However, mpeg4 would make the SD channels look better.

Just a thought.



How long after bringing out the MPEG2 HD DirecTIVO did they wait before they obsoleted the entire line? Seems there are some still angry about that.

The current boxes are available that output composite AV and S-video, along with HD. Legacy SDTVs can be fed a signal from the current HD boxes.

While we talk about the equipment change out costs, that ignores the cost of maintaining the SD signals. Channel providers are starting to only provide HD signals (e.g ESPN). This means lower distribution costs for the provider. You would only need to uplink one signal and you wouldn't need to have the equipment to downconvert the signal and send it up for distribution.

My bet is DirecTV has a number of people running models and comparing operating costs and revenue projections for various scenarios. They are probably closely tracking HD vs SD dish installs (one HD receiver requires an HD dish), and ratio of HD to SD receivers. They can probably give pretty accurate predictions of when 50% and 75% of new install receivers will be HD. The also know the rate at which SD receivers are being replaced by HD ones. Since joining DirecTV 4 years ago, I retired 2 of 3 SD TVs and replaced them with HD TVs. The last SDTV is in a guest room and never watched (something else I am sure DirecTV can track). Surely, they can also give a decent date estimate of when the number of operating SD receivers will fall below a threadhold making separate broadcast no longer cost effective/profitable.

The question is whether, when they need to contract for, and begin construction of a replacement of the current SD satellites, will it make sense economically to continue to broadcast SD signals. Given that multiple satellites are involved in SD delivery, I could imagine a scenario where they slowly reduce services available SD only (e.g movie premiums and/or PPV require an HD receiver) during the transition period. This way, they could wean SD customers from their SD equipment without forcing people to switch all at once.


There where so few of the HD Tivos out there in comparison to mpeg2 only boxes, its not even a comparable situation.

They don't need to replace a single sat to switch to all hd and get rid of sd channels. The problem with killing the sd feeds is in peoples homes. Any sat they launch today as a replacement for one already up there is likely to have all the abilities for anything it replaces and more.

I also feel that replacing and adding sats has ZERO to do with hd and mpeg 4 in the big picture. Its all about capacity in general. The more capacity they have, the more channels and services they can have. We have already seen they have some On Demand content on a sat. I don't think they will stop adding sats until hey can offer all they have and more via sat if its monetarily possible to do it and not hinder their profits. I think the BSS sat packages will be all about that.



The entire post is one of few that delves into the whole of the big picture. There are lots of costs to balance out and I am sure DIRECTV has the numbers modeled very thoroughly.

To me the first enabler will be when it is no more expensive to produce MPEG4 boxes than MPEG2 only boxes. Then DIRECTV will cut off the new shipments of MPEG2 boxes into the supply chain.

The next sign might be no more 18" dish installs. Or removing the D series from installs and replacements.

It will be a very long-term evolution. So long-term, you really can't even call it a project yet.

Until the number of active MPEG2 receivers falls below 5M, it will still be less expensive to launch another satellite. (Generally speaking that is.)

And yes, absolutely, I expect DIRECTV will use the same techniques to encourage people to swap off SD receivers in groups as they did before. Slowly turning off SD services and offering economical upgrades to those last holdouts. :)

Cheers,
Tom


I think that they already are killing off SD MPEG2, but only based on obvious opportunity right now. They are launching all their new Local DMAs and the ones they moved off 79 to MPEG-4 only DMAS. That's the start...

BUT I don't think they are even close to a proactive effort about killing off old equipment till they have bss equipment being deployed. We don't know what all will be required to receive BSS stuff yet, but they know what that is, and till its launched, there is no point in starting the process. And as you said it will be gradual.

When they went to a lease model, they decided that every box they produce will have a lifespan of X. And they wont stop using them till X years has passed by, so if the boxes that we have now can't in some way receive BSS...

Now if they can, via a new SWIM setup, then maybe, just maybe you could make the argument they have begun the process in general by starting to filer the newer hardware out there via natural attrition. I don't see a focused decision till they realize they can't launch any more sats (no more bandwidth available, and no need to replace any for a while) for x number of years and they might as well spend that type of development money on swapping out to newer hardware, and hey have the bss capable dishes ready to be installed.

I wouldn't be surprised if they followed the same path as they did with the HR10's. First Sports packages, then by dma, and then one final call to everyone that just waited and procrastinated. But again, till they have definitive BSS hardware, what would be the point in even worrying about costs of boxes on mpeg2 vs. mpeg 4 being the qualifier to move to all mpeg 4, unless there is an unexpected mass exodus to only mpeg4 hardware by the subs without any push by directv. That might move up their plans if a push to non bss but mpeg 4 hardware would be so low in comparison to costs of continuing to feed sd versions of channels that it made sense.

I am hoping that all the current mpeg 4 equipment will be able to receiver bss sat stuff with a new swim and dish. That would be nice.

I'd love to know all the details on how many of each kind of box is left out there, and by dma. How many people are still using non directv branded hardware somewhere in their house.

#234 OFFLINE   maartena

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 08:32 AM

Indeed. And will it be part of the "expansion" or "replenishment" of the constellation? I've pointed out several times that some of the Ku satellites are getting to the point where replacement has to at least be on Directv's long-term technology roadmap.


Since satellites generally last about 15 years or so, and the oldest seems to be nearing 12 years now, I would assume that with both 14 and 15 they will have capacity to off-load some of their older birds. I'm sure they know how old their satellites are. ;)
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#235 OFFLINE   cypherx

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 09:42 AM

At what volume of manufacturing does MPEG4 receivers cost about the same as MPEG2 only?

I would imagine that in bulk, by now it shouldn't be that much cost prohibitive.

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#236 OFFLINE   Tom Robertson

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 09:59 AM

At what volume of manufacturing does MPEG4 receivers cost about the same as MPEG2 only?

I would imagine that in bulk, by now it shouldn't be that much cost prohibitive.


Since they are all ordered in bulk, I'm guessing the prices haven't equalized yet.

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#237 OFFLINE   alnielsen

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 03:32 PM

How many people are still using non directv branded hardware somewhere in their house.

I am. I have 2 receivers that are at least 10 yrs old and are still in use. However, I think that I'm in a minority. I would think most of the growth of Directv was after they went to the leasing model.

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#238 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 04:10 PM

At what volume of manufacturing does MPEG4 receivers cost about the same as MPEG2 only?

I would imagine that the MPEG2 receiver cost rose some when they started putting SWiM capability in them. I wouldn't be surprised if they're using the same tuners that the HD equipment is. They still don't have networking but that's kind of a gimme in todays mainboard world. The only considerable deduction is probably DECA versus an H24. The H25 may be a wash against the D12 as it is.

Thinking back, many (myself included) figured the end of MPEG2 had begun with the release of the R22 40 months ago. Whoda thunk?

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#239 OFFLINE   LameLefty

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 04:35 PM

Since satellites generally last about 15 years or so, and the oldest seems to be nearing 12 years now, I would assume that with both 14 and 15 they will have capacity to off-load some of their older birds. I'm sure they know how old their satellites are. ;)


Actually I'm not sure of that at all. Directv 14 was mentioned in the most-recent investor presentations as being an expansion of the Ka fleet. That does nothing to help out with the older Ku birds. Page 48 of the December 2010 Investor Day presentation indicates that Directv 5 will hit design end-of-life by June 2014, although it has predicted fuel through at least 2020. D4S, D8 and Spaceway 1 all hit design end-of-life between December 2016 and October 2017, with SW2 following by mid-2018. Satellites take several years from contract-award to completion and launch, so expect to see more announcements like this within the next year to 18 months, I would think.

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#240 OFFLINE   Tom Robertson

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 04:55 PM

Satellite life = Fuel, battery, transponders. If all are good, the satellite can last much longer than the designed life.

DIRECTV likely has a very close eye on the health of these guys and is ready to go with replacements.

Cheers,
Tom

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#241 OFFLINE   HarleyD

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 05:58 PM

I'd love to know all the details on how many of each kind of box is left out there, and by dma. How many people are still using non directv branded hardware somewhere in their house.


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#242 OFFLINE   LameLefty

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 06:02 PM

Satellite life = Fuel, battery, transponders. If all are good, the satellite can last much longer than the designed life.

DIRECTV likely has a very close eye on the health of these guys and is ready to go with replacements.

Cheers,
Tom


You left out one very important factor, Tom: Power. Solar cell efficiency drops over time, as does battery efficiency. Add in cumulative damage to spacecraft electronics from long-term exposure to solar and cosmic radiation and just simply entropy and once you get past the rated design life you're playing dice with increasingly bad odds, year by year.

Which is fundamentally what I'm getting at. We'll likely be seeing more about the satellite constellation in the coming year or two.

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#243 OFFLINE   Tom Robertson

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 06:10 PM

You left out one very important factor, Tom: Power. Solar cell efficiency drops over time, as does battery efficiency. Add in cumulative damage to spacecraft electronics from long-term exposure to solar and cosmic radiation and just simply entropy and once you get past the rated design life you're playing dice with increasingly bad odds, year by year.

Which is fundamentally what I'm getting at. We'll likely be seeing more about the satellite constellation in the coming year or two.


I kinda was thinking of power, but very glad you clarified the specific issues therein. Thanks,

Tom

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#244 OFFLINE   P Smith

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 07:08 PM

Add to that forecast-ed soon Solar super-flame what should just kill all sats around Globe ...

#245 OFFLINE   Davenlr

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 07:09 PM

Add to that forecast-ed soon Solar super-flame what should just kill all sats around Globe ...


Na, just those on the light side. Those on the dark side will be ok. Should make Vader happy :)

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#246 OFFLINE   wmb

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 09:37 PM

They don't need to replace a single sat to switch to all hd and get rid of sd channels. The problem with killing the sd feeds is in peoples homes. Any sat they launch today as a replacement for one already up there is likely to have all the abilities for anything it replaces and more.


While true, it ignores one point... what the lay public will accept. As DirecTV shuts down SD service, they can tell customers that the satellite providing that service ended its 15 year service life and is no longer available to broadcast the signals required. Best of all, its the truth, although maybe not the whole truth.

This is why I think that they will continue to broadcast SD using the current satellites. I'm not convinced they will not replace the satellites with like SD. Thats were the costs/economic models will come into play. My gut says the replacements won't be used for SD. If they are, that is essentially a commitment to broadcasting SD for 15 more years. I doubt the economic models will support that.

As for bars... they are operating SD CRTs 12+ hours per day, 364 +days per year. My experience with CRTs is they have a max life of about 15 years @ 4 hours per day (that the longest I've had one last). Replacing a CRT with a panel should lower power consumption (electric bills). Also, for a sports bar NOT to have HD seems like it would have a negative impact on business. Long story short, my bet is that the SD attrition rate in bars is probably similar to or faster than that in homes.

Hotels may be a different issue... they have a built-in cable system. But HD signals can still be downconverted to work with the SD distribution system. I typically stay in Kimpton or Hilton hotels, and they are mostly SD on HD panels in the rooms.

#247 OFFLINE   evan_s

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 09:49 PM

Since satellites generally last about 15 years or so, and the oldest seems to be nearing 12 years now, I would assume that with both 14 and 15 they will have capacity to off-load some of their older birds. I'm sure they know how old their satellites are. ;)


I doubt it, at least not directly. D14 is pretty clearly going to 99 which doesn't have any ku service at all. It has Ka high that could be better utilized like d12 and the RBSS. While the sat may not care what signal it is broadcasting (aka mpeg 2 vs mpeg 4) it sure does care about the frequency of those signals and you would need distinct separate components to be able to handle ka vs ku. Now RBSS might be close enough to Ku that the same components could be used for both but I don't think so. If you look at the filings they have everything spelled out very clearly on what frequencies everything is designed to handle.

#248 OFFLINE   evan_s

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 10:02 PM

While true, it ignores one point... what the lay public will accept. As DirecTV shuts down SD service, they can tell customers that the satellite providing that service ended its 15 year service life and is no longer available to broadcast the signals required. Best of all, its the truth, although maybe not the whole truth.

This is why I think that they will continue to broadcast SD using the current satellites. I'm not convinced they will not replace the satellites with like SD. Thats were the costs/economic models will come into play. My gut says the replacements won't be used for SD. If they are, that is essentially a commitment to broadcasting SD for 15 more years. I doubt the economic models will support that.


I don't think DirecTV is even thinking about it that way at all. First, they have 3 different sats up there at 101 providing the core Ku coverage. D4s, D8 and D9. All with different launch dates and therefore expected lifetimes. Not to mention the sats at 110 and 119. There is no way they would be replacing them all at the same time so there would never be a simple time to tell customers that that sat is gone so they can't provide sd service anymore.

Second, I don't think that is really a very good excuse anyway. I don't think the average customer cares about what sats directv has where and if they did try to use that as an excuse the customers would just end up saying, Well you knew it was going to need to be replaced so why didn't you take care of that.

What it really comes down to is a simple mater of costs. How many SD/mpeg2 receivers do they still have in service and across how many accounts. From there they can start figuring out how much it would cost them to replace all those receivers and do any necessary dish upgrades to go with them. From there they can easily start working out if it is worth trying to do the conversion and from what I hear on the boards here they don't really seem to be in all that much of a hurry which doesn't surprise me really. They've got quite a bit of bandwidth available for hd with more expansions planned so they aren't being forced to do it due to lack of bandwidth.

#249 OFFLINE   Tom Robertson

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 10:31 PM

Besides, Dish and cable would expose the lie. The current satellites can handle MPEG4. They don't care what is in the bitstream.

SD will be an evolution not a revolution.

Cheers,
Tom

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#250 OFFLINE   YakeVlad

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 01:12 AM

SD will be an evolution not a revolution.


Agreed. The way I see it, SD service will be phased out over time in a similar but inverse manner to the way HD was expanded. Once the number of SD sets reaches a point where maintaining the SD feed is no longer financially justified, or the viewership of a channel reaches a similar point, I think you'll see the SD feeds begin to go the way of the dodo.




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