title:Getting To Know The Satellite TV System author:Mark Woodcock source_url:http://www.articlecity.com/articles/gadgets_and_gizmos/article_429.shtml date_saved:2007-07-25 12:30:10 category:gadgets_and_gizmos article:

We are living in the information age, with access to anything at our fingertips via the Internet and our televisions. With cable television and satellite TV systems, we have access to hundreds of channels that are address just about every interest: sports, music, cooking, home decorating, children’s shows, movies, cars, history, and many more. Satellite TV systems in recent years have stolen some of cable TV’s thunder in their ability to offer more channels, for a better price, and often with better reception than standard cable TV. But, cable TV is striking back, and has leveled the playing field in recent years. Since its inception, satellite TV has provided a viable option to the television consumer.
Satellite TV is brought into the home via communications satellites high in the atmosphere, as opposed to cable TV, which brings its service into the home via underground cables. Home satellite TV service began in the 1980’s with the introduction of systems that received the same signals used for cable TV distribution. Early satellite TV systems were quite expensive, and the satellite dishes were often as large as 12 feet in diameter.
DBS, or direct broadcast satellite, is known commonly as “mini-dish systems”, and is what is available to consumers today. DBS requires special equipment for the home (a satellite dish and a receiver box) that is encrypted by the specific service provider chosen by the customer. The satellite equipment uses a special card to decode the signal in order to allow viewing access to the paying customer. The card is used to permit only the customer paying for that specific service to view the premium channels (if subscribed to), as well as the free channels available to everyone.
In the infancy of satellite TV systems, all channels for free an open for public consumption, including what we know today as premium channels, such as HBO. This was highly appealing and gave satellite TV systems a huge opportunity for growth. However, when HBO decided to encrypt their signal in 1986, other cable services followed suit, and satellite sales plummeted. There was simply too much expensive equipment to purchase in addition to paying monthly fees for TV channels. Thus cable TV moved in.
Satellite TV saw a resurgence in the 1990’s when the mini-dish systems became an affordable and reliable alternative to cable TV. Cable TV costs were climbing due to lack of competition, and consumers took advantage of the new choice they were offered. DirecTV was the first high-capacity home satellite TV system, and it was made available in 1994. Several other services, like Dish Network and Primestar followed soon after, creating competition among satellite TV service providers, as well as competition with the cable TV industry. So much competition was good news for consumers. Prices came down, and incentives were offered to lure customers from one service provider to another.
Cable TV has since leveled the playing field with the introduction of digital cable, offering even more reliable reception, more reasonable costs, just as many channels, and such perks as no contract obligations.
Satellite TV systems do have their drawbacks for the consumer. Though the high-quality picture is a definite bonus, the reception is highly subject to atmospheric interference, such as bad weather and sunspots. This can knock out service for hours at a time, and can be very frustrating. In addition, if you subscribe to a satellite TV system because you live in a remote location, and cable TV is not available to you, you might not have access to local TV channels. This might require using an antenna to try to get local network broadcasts. Further, the lure that satellite TV once had, that being the quantity of additional channels available over cable TV, is a thing of the past. Digital cable has opened more options to consumers, offering them just as many, and sometimes more, channels as a satellite TV system.
A satellite TV system is an affordable and often reliable alternative to cable TV. Sometimes satellite TV is the only alternative, due to location. Satellite TV offers the same extras as cable TV, with DVR (Digital Video Recorder) capabilities, pay-per-view channels, and music choice channels. And because of the competition among the satellite TV service providers themselves, the equipment prices are often greatly reduced, and sometimes even free of charge. A satellite TV system can be a viable alternative to cable TV.

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