When AT&T shuts down sat TV, what will become of the DBS allocated spectrum?

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by tkrandall, Apr 23, 2019.

  1. Apr 23, 2019 #1 of 107
    tkrandall

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    Getting ahead of myself here perhaps, but since AT&T has essentially pronounced the eventual end of DBS ("we have launched our last satellite") and publicly stated they foresee an OTT future, what might become of their Ku and Ka band presently allocated for DBS services? I assume Dish/Echostar are headed to a similar end state - no more direct to home DBS service offering some years down the line as the sats begin to fail and customers bleed off to streaming.
     
  2. Apr 23, 2019 #2 of 107
    CraigerM

    CraigerM Well-Known Member

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    They still are going to launch the T-16 so that is what they meant by launching their last satellite.
     
  3. Apr 23, 2019 #3 of 107
    slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    AT&T has put out so many confusing messages I don't think you can rely on them. They are launching their "last new satellite" in June (if the schedule holds) That isn't the act of a company that plans on phasing out satellite anytime soon.
     
  4. Apr 23, 2019 #4 of 107
    James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Satellite is profitable. As long as they make money they will run the system. When they stop making money they will sell the system. There may be some transformations along the way, but I expect satellite to be around for at least the next decade.
     
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  5. Apr 23, 2019 #5 of 107
    inkahauts

    inkahauts Well-Known Member

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    Satellite sure isn’t going anywhere within a decade... I suspect it’ll be here forever. But it may be only one survives and the specific technology may change.. but I don’t see it going anywhere anytime even close to soon.

    And I think the att guy really was trying to say we are done expanding satelites, now the growth area is over the top. Not that satellite is done or that the won’t ever even actually launch another satellite. I’m sure if it’s profitable they will launch another sat in about 10 years when they’d need a new replacement for one or two.
     
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  6. Apr 24, 2019 #6 of 107
    MysteryMan

    MysteryMan Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

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    I totally agree.
     
  7. Apr 24, 2019 #7 of 107
    J. Harwood

    J. Harwood New Member

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    It would be nice if T broke out their subscriber numbers for DirecTV vs. U-verse, they reported a total premium TV sub loss of 544,000 subscribers in Q12019, did anyone see how many of those were DBS? Total net video losses (including Now) were 627,000.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
  8. Apr 24, 2019 #8 of 107
    tkrandall

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  9. Apr 24, 2019 #9 of 107
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Active Member

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    Satellites used for communications purposes definitely aren't going away. In fact, there will be a whole lot more of them going up in the next few years as SpaceX, OneWeb, Amazon (!) and others all launch low-earth orbit constellations of thousands of small satellites that will be used to deliver broadband service around the world. Satellite enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to with monthly launches of lots of little birdies.

    But DBS satellite will of course go away. Once there's one or more satellite services offering competitively priced internet service -- an IP link over which any form of communications can ride, including live and on-demand TV service, and which can reach rural dwellers everywhere -- then DBS will lose its reason to exist. Folks everywhere will be able to use the new services to stream anything, including OTT live TV services like DTV's upcoming service, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, etc. (A sat service may even run their own managed IPTV system with multicasting for popular linear channels.)

    This is why I've said that I expect to see DBS (i.e. DirecTV and Dish) die in the US sometime in the latter 2020s (2025-29) timeframe. By the time we get to the end of that timeframe (12/31/29), the operating satellite fleet will have dwindled down and be at or near the end of its useable lifespan (although some level of service, perhaps just using the soon-to-launch T-16, might be possible into the early 2030s).

    But before DBS reaches that point of complete physical exhaustion, it will likely reach a point of commercial exhaustion. So many customers will have left DTV and Dish because they've switched to other TV services/technologies, finally including LEO satellite (but potentially including other systems that have yet to arrive, such as AT&T 5G-via-AirGig), that DBS TV service may not be a financially viable ongoing operation. At some point, it will enter what everyone -- management, Wall Street, and consumers -- knows to be a one-way downward spiral. Management won't want to invest anything in a service with limited time left, prices will go up as subscribers dwindle, and customers will understand that DBS is a platform slow-walking to its death sentence, so they'd better go ahead and jump ship. Whatever happens to it, I definitely do not expect AT&T to still be operating DTV satellite service in the late 2020s.
     
  10. Apr 24, 2019 #10 of 107
    James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Strange ... in the past they did break out satellite vs uverse with uverse posting gains in recent quarters. At least they are keeping DIRECTV NOW separate.
     
  11. Apr 24, 2019 #11 of 107
    P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

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    I would say it's personal very pessimistic prediction... will re-check your opinion in 20 years from now.
     
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  12. Apr 24, 2019 #12 of 107
    slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    LEO satellites will NEVER be a viable alternative for streaming TV, there simply isn't enough bandwidth. Think of it this way, how many cell towers do you think there are in the US? If you launch a constellation of a few thousand satellites (only some of which will be over your location at any one time) it is like trying to serve the entire US with a few thousand cell towers. There simply isn't enough bandwidth for them to have many customers using a lot of data at once, which is what would happen if all the rural customers dropped Directv/Dish and went to Directv Now / Sling / Netflix / etc.

    They'll be great for people who need internet connectivity everywhere, similar to how Iridium is great for people who need phone connectivity everywhere, but there's no way it will be competitively priced for use by a cord cutting streamer. Heck, even cellular isn't a good option for that despite having many orders of magnitude more points of communication than LEO satellite internet will.

    The only way to effective service the bulk of the rural market will be fixed wireless. Satellite will only be workable if the number of users is relatively small - so only the REALLY rural people - the ones who can't even get a cellular signal at home.
     
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  13. Apr 24, 2019 #13 of 107
    J. Harwood

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    Good point re: U-verse adding subs: Q42018 they added 12k U-verse subs. If that was the same for Q12019 that would mean that they actually lost 556k DBS subs in the quarter, which would put them on pace to lose 2.22M DBS subs in 2019. If that is accurate they would be down to 18.6M DBS subs right now, 17M by the end of 2019.
     
  14. Apr 24, 2019 #14 of 107
    slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    It is hard to tell though - shortly after the Directv purchase they were losing huge amounts of Uverse TV subscribers and gaining tons of Directv subscribers, so just because Uverse TV had a few quarters of relative stability doesn't mean it will continue. Maybe they had some really good deals to sign up for Uverse, similar to the really good Directv deals they had shortly after the Directv purchase (up to four rooms free, two year price lock)

    It is probably true that almost all of those were Directv subscribers, but that mix has changed before so you can't be sure. Makes you wonder why they didn't break it out individually this time.
     
  15. Apr 24, 2019 #15 of 107
    SamC

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    If you are currently an adult, sat TV will be around when you die of old age.

    - The internet is just not ready for prime time. It is nice to stream a movie or whatever, but, the internet simply does not have the capacity to serve everybody with HD quality at the same time. Particularly sports and major news events. It will be a long time before that changes, if it ever does.

    - Even if you assume, and you would be wrong, that in some far off time, "everybody" can get TV on the internet with no problems, you mean "everybody in town", you forget there are millions of people in rural areas for which provision of internet is not commercially realistic. Unless some future government decides that spending billions to wire up every holler in Appalachia and every ranch in Montana, (not to mention Alaska and Canada) sat TV will have to exist, even if just as a niche product.

    - All of the "cord cutter" math is predicated on the assumption that people are just going to have internet anyway and thus this or that service is this or that price. Newsflash: alot of people do not have, nor want, internet service. They live their lives, thank you very much, just fine without it. When you project internet $$ plus OTT $$, the math is totally different.
     
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  16. Apr 24, 2019 #16 of 107
    NashGuy

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    Go do some reading about the LEO satellite plans of these companies and then when you've corrected your misperceptions, come back and we can discuss. (Amazon isn't getting into the LEO broadband delivery game so that they can be the next Iridium.)

    As for the inability of the internet to deliver live TV at mass scale -- sigh. Do you people understand multicast video? It's how AT&T has for years been delivering live IPTV service over a very bandwidth-constrained DSL system. It could *absolutely* be done over LEO broadband, which will have far more bandwidth to play with.

    Also understand that, as time goes by, the vast majority of US video viewing outside of live sports and news will be on-demand. All that content that's original and exclusive to YouTube, Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV+, and the upcoming SVODs from WarnerMedia and NBCU won't ever be on any linear cable channels. The number of hours of video consumed OTT is only ever going to increase and our IP networks will grow to accommodate that, regardless of folks who just insist over and over that it can't happen.
     
  17. Apr 24, 2019 #17 of 107
    KyL416

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    You keep on bringing up multicast, but the examples you provide clearly shows YOU are the one who doesn't understand it.

    That's not how the technology works at all. You have to be in complete control of every hop along the way for it to work for live linear content, since there is no second chance to receive the packets you missed because of latency, backbone congestion or local congestion. (i.e. U-Verse TV which operates on a CLOSED system on AT&T's internal network, and despite operating on a closed network, they have a cap on the maximum simultaneous streams) In order for multicast to work for OTT the OTT provider would have to strike priority traffic deals with every ISP and their backbone providers in the country to guarantee their packets will arrive at the same time for each of their linear feeds, or bypass the backbone entirely and distribute their content from local servers located at the local nodes of each ISP in a closed system like how U-Verse and some other telco IPTV providers operate.

    And unless they plan to push the thousands of hours of content from Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Disney+ etc to everyone's hard drive in advanced or expect everyone to watch the same content at the exact same time without pausing/rewinding/fast forwarding, you can NOT use multicast for streaming VOD.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
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  18. Apr 24, 2019 #18 of 107
    P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

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    IP would expand, but the pessimistic "prediction" about short living sat service does not seriously thought thing. Will see some info at least in 10 years from now … but most likely in 20 years.
     
  19. Apr 24, 2019 #19 of 107
    Rich

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    When I switched from cable to D* and saw how much better it was I thought cable had to be doomed. Who would put up with cable if they could get a sat feed? Cable's still here, I think we will see dishes on homes for quite some time.

    Rich
     
  20. Apr 24, 2019 #20 of 107
    NashGuy

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    I do understand how multicast works. Go back and re-read my post. When I referenced it, I was NOT talking about using multicast for on-demand video, which by nature MUST be unicast. I was referring to the possibility that Amazon, SpaceX Starlink or others who operate their own satellite-based broadband service might choose to also operate their own multicast-enabled TV service that offers a bundle of cable channels such as ESPN, CNN, etc. This is the model that Comcast, for instance, is evolving toward. It's the model that Altice USA is evolving toward on their FTTH network. And it's the model that AT&T and other telcos have been using for their own managed IPTV systems for several years now. In all these cases, the multicast streams are delivered only across the broadband provider's own network to compatible CPE (a gateway or STB). I see no reason why the same couldn't be done with an LEO satellite broadband system if the provider thought that there was a compelling business case to run their own MVPD. Although frankly, the trend is for broadband providers to opt out of that and just outsource that business to someone else, as Verizon 5G Home has done with YouTube TV. (Of course, it's certainly possible for Verizon to work with Google to enable multicast for live channels on YouTube TV if they want. Read up on Broadpeak's Multicast ABR solution for one possible implementation.)

    At any rate, multicast can be used for the most popular linear channels, while everything else -- less popular linear channels, cloud DVR and all other forms of on-demand content (Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, etc.) -- is delivered via unicast.
     

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