What is satellite television?
The form of satellite television that most people are familiar with, includes a small rooftop dish, plus a cable running down to a receiver located inside the house. There are 2 main competitors for this service, each offering essentially the same programming. However, all television programming is based upon this very principle. This includes the cable companies as well. All providers received a signal from space, which is then sent to subscriber homes. A central upload point is the originator and the various downlinks all get this feed from one to two satellite orbiting high above the earth.

A short history of satellite television
This brand of entertainment has been around since 1962. Although it was not fit for home use at this time, many companies saw the value in this new technology, and advancements were made at a constant rate. culminating in the first broadcast to homes 1976 by the Russian satellite Ekran. This paved the way for the ability of providers today to come up with the innovations commonly taken for granted. Electronics have become more advanced, and with the invention of the microchip, units have grown increasingly smaller. The price has also dropped as well, affording more consumers the opportunity to enjoy this form of entertainment.

How does the signal get to earth?
A satellite beam is first uploaded to the orbiting station high above the earth. Since planet and the satellite are moving at the same rate, it is easy to synchronize the signal between the two points. The information is then download to various receiving stations for distribution. The signal tends to spread out or wander during the time it take to move between each end. This necessitates the need for a large, parabolic shaped antenna to capture the data for processing. It is also relative weak at this time, so an amplifier is built into the dish to provide enough power to boost it further.

Early systems in the U.S.
The first set of affordable satellite television systems in the United States were the C-band packages. They featured a 7 to 10 foot diameter dish of metal or wire mesh that had to be correctly set up to receive the signals from the sky. Do it yourself instructions became available later as more homeowners sought an answer to their television dilemma. Most of these revolved around rural settings where cable television providers were unable to lay cable to the home. After completing the proper orientation of the dish itself, cable had to be laid back to the receiver. Following a brief setting of dish positions, a customer was then able to enjoy the benefits of paid programming and any free shows that also were available.

Free to Air programming
A new type of this technology was the rise of free to air systems that became popular about 5 to 7 years ago. They featured the same type of dish that cable companies use today, but tiny set top boxes were used to decipher the signal. Many feeds from different countries were able to be watched. This was great for immigrants or folks who simply wanted to enjoy a taste of the old country. There are still plenty of programming of this type available, with equipment readily obtained. The only problem is to orient the dish to the satellite on which broadcasts the signal. This is easily gotten around with proper elevation and latitude charts, plus a signal meter.

New Satellite Features
As satellite television has become more affordable, most providers have included a number of great features intended to capture more viewers. This includes such technology as pay per view, digital video recorders and on demand programming. A customer can choose what type of entertainment that he wants on almost any occasion. It is also easy to record favorite shows for later viewing at a more convenient time. Of course, with the picture being digital and the enhancement in television sets, this has also made for a more spectacular night in front of the set. Movies and sporting events are much more exciting, thanks to the advancements in both sound and picture. This is one technology that isn’t going away.