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some thoughts on network HDTV on DBS

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by kcwh, Aug 22, 2002.

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  1. kcwh

    kcwh New Member

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    Jun 10, 2002
    I've been thinking about what it would take to get HDTV broadcasts from the major OTA networks via D*/E*.

    Both companies claim they don't have enough capacity for each to separately carry all 210 DMAs in standard definition. This is probably true, although some things make me wonder, e.g., Directv's satellite at 110 deg... it only seems to carry Showtime HD. What else is on that satellite?

    Regardless of whether D*and E* merge or not (I'm beginning to hope not with all I've been reading), it seems unlikely that all 210 DMAs could be carried in HDTV any time soon.

    In hopes that D* (and E*) might read this and consider ways to accomplish this, here are a couple of ideas:

    1. if the merger fails, perhaps they could become partners in a third company that exists solely to provide local channels via satellite for D* and E*. since they share 1 or 2 orbital slots, this shouldn't be horribly difficult. yes, they might have to come up with a common receiving platform so that there wouldn't be any technical issues... which seems like a good idea anyway.

    2. they could provide the major OTA network HDTV broadcasts during primetime (and maybe late night), overlaid with local ads and other local overlays from the standard definition channels. This would allow the majority of receivers to continue getting regular broadcasts, but would give HDTV customers many more broadcasts to watch. Since the HDTV broadcasts wouldn't need to be duplicated, bandwidth availability would be much less of an issue.

    I realize that these ideas couldn't be implemented overnight and that better ideas may be proposed... but I haven't seen it mentioned much, and I think it deserves some discussion.

    Are you listening Directv? (oh yeah, and Echostar)
     
  2. Mike123abc

    Mike123abc Hall Of Fame/Supporter DBSTalk Gold Club

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    Well much has been addressed in the FCC merger filings.

    They claim a joint venture satellite would not work because they currently use incompatible systems.

    They have no plans yet for LIL HDTV. Problem is that HDTV takes up about 6-7 STD worth of space. If they update the Ku satellites to 8PSK (what dish uses now in new HDTV) they can get 2 HDTV stations per transponder, or 64 per satellite. Ku has a reuse factor with spots of about 5, so 3 satellites times 32 transponders times 5 reuse times 2 channels per transponder is 960 total capacity. This is not enough to carry the ~1400 stations in the US. So, even with all trying to do LIL they could not do it with the KU band.

    Ka band has some possiblities. A Ka satellite could have 46 transponders, a reuse factor of 8 (tighter beams possible), 2 channels per beam would yield 736 locals per satellite. So, it would take 2 Ka orbital locations to have the capacity to handle all locals in HDTV.

    This does not even address the problem of getting this much uplink capacity. Each of the 2 orbital slots would have to be composed of 4 satellites. 8 satellites might have enough power to up/down link all this.

    It is not going to be easy no matter what. Overlaying local ads probably wont work unless the ads are in very low resolution... something advertisers probably will not like.
     
  3. AllieVi

    AllieVi Hall Of Fame

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    Apr 10, 2002
    In an attempt to gain support for the merger, Charlie has promised that the new company would be able to provide LIL in all DMA's and also provide about a dozen(?) HD channels. That's his optimistic claim.

    As Mike123abc noted, each HD channel uses as much spectrum as 6-7 standard channels. If the merger actually happens, it will be interesting to see if Charlie honors his pledge and squanders bandwidth on DMA's with just a few subscribers or, instead, adds HD channels at the expense of the lowest 50-or-so DMA's. By the time the decision would be made in a few years, the market will have evolved a good bit and today's promises may not make sense.
     
  4. Steve Mehs

    Steve Mehs Hall Of Fame

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    Just Sho HD and the triple LNB test channel on ch 99. Before D*4S was launched 110 used to have Raleigh and Greenville locals on it. D* only has licenses for 3 tps at 110 so there will never be that much on the 110 bird.
     
  5. kcwh

    kcwh New Member

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    Jun 10, 2002
    thanks for the insights... seems like a much bigger mess than it ought to be, but then the government is involved so I shouldn't be too surprised.

    I don't trust E*, but the merger may be the only real hope of ever seeing anything approaching LIL HDTV. thank god there is a lot of other stuff to watch on DBS!

    maybe having the locals in HDTV wouldn't seem as desireable if they'd just get more HDTV overall. I actually don't watch a huge amount of the locals now that I think about it. I'm starting to think it might be a better investment of bandwidth to just have more movie channels in HDTV (e.g., Starz/Encore). It'd probably be more useful to more people.

    at this point, i'll be happy just to be able to get one of the new pvr's when they're released.
     
  6. Steve Mehs

    Steve Mehs Hall Of Fame

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    The problem with that is lack of content. Besides locals E* and D* combined have basically all the HD content thats out there. The west coast feed of HBO HD is the only national HD channel AFAIK, that isnt carried on DBS.
     
  7. Mike123abc

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    What I see happening is eventually Ka satellites will be developed. Probably the top 10-30 DMAs will get HDTV the rest will not. To compete with cable they will have to add HDTV for the top markets. Probably have 10-20 HDTV "national" channels in place in a couple years.

    Cable companies will not rest if satellite starts to take all the customers away. They will respond with locals in HDTV.
     
  8. raj2001

    raj2001 Guest

    TW cable NYC is already offering locals in HD, plus HBO and showtime, and they're not fully out of beta yet. Imagine when they go full production what happens.... hummmmm...
     
  9. Mike123abc

    Mike123abc Hall Of Fame/Supporter DBSTalk Gold Club

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    It only makes sense for cable to do HDTV. While they scream and hollar that it is too hard, takes too much bandwith, etc., they miss the larger picture. That is that people who go out and plunk down the cash to own an HDTV are probably people that will want to use their HDTV to watch high quality signals. People that can afford an HDTV can probably afford and pay for more than just basic cable.

    I bought my HDTV, then went looking for a signal. No locals OTA here yet, cable had no chance of HDTV anytime soon, so I went DBS. If cable starts to carry more HDTV (more than just locals which I could get OTA), I would probably switch back to cable even though cable costs more.
     
  10. dishrich

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    Don't forget Showtime HD West as well... :D :D :D

    (FWIW, some of the Time Warner Cable systems that carry HD content actually are carrying all FOUR feeds of HBO & Show HD!!!)
     
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