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How Does Satellite TV Work?

Satellite TV is one of the most common alternatives to cable TV. However, while there are thousands of people who have satellite dishes on their homes or in their yards, not everyone understands how satellite TV works. Would you believe that it’s as close to old-fashioned broadcast television as you can get these days?

Say What Now?

It’s true; satellite TV is the next generation of broadcasting. It all starts when the company running the satellite buys the rights from television stations to broadcast their programming. The studios beam the programming to a geo-stationary satellite (a that holds a position above a certain portion of the earth and spins along with the planet). Once the signal is beamed to the satellite, the programming is reflected back to earth and to the DBS company (direct broadcasting satellite).

Once the programming has been received, the company then encrypts the programming and sends it back up to a different satellite. This second satellite bounces the signal back to earth again, where it’s picked up by the receivers in the back of customers’ yards. Once the signal has been received, it’s run into the home via a cable. The cable terminates in a black box, which filters the programming and allows the customer to watch all of the programs that he or she has paid for.

Is It Reliable?

Satellite TV technology has been growing and swelling since it first became really commercially viable in the 1990s. The basics of the technology though, the 4-part beaming up to space, back to earth, back to space, and then back to earth, hasn’t changed at all. And while the system has flaws, such as getting blocked by too many trees, buildings, or inclement weather, it does provide a lot of options for those who might not have access to traditional cable television services.

When it comes to the quality of programming, and even the price, cable and satellite TV are quite comparable. Both services purchase the same kinds of programming from the same television studios, and make it available to their customers. However, the differences are really in what is available where someone lives, and which systems are more functional based on the area.

For example, say someone lives in a densely packed major city. If someone has access to the top floor of a building or similar, high location, then a satellite dish could easily be installed. However, if someone doesn’t have that kind of access, perhaps because he or she lives in the basement, then a satellite isn’t going to be able to pick up the signal in and around all of the steel and concrete. If someone lived out in the countryside though, where there was plenty of open air to angle the dish with no obstructions, then getting reception is going to be easy as pie. These are the limitations of the technology, and things that customers need to take into consideration when choosing out they’re going to get their personal entertainment.

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