How Does Satellite TV Work?

While you may hear about DISH satellite service or even be a DISH customer, have you ever really thought about satellite TV works? How does that dish on your roof or in your backyard bring you TV shows, movies and music from all over the world? Here is a brief explanation of how satellite technology brings television programming into your home 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Satellite Technology—Past and Present

In the past (early 1990’s), satellite dishes were very big and bulky and often seen as eyesores in people’s backyards. Also, satellite dishes were often associated with rural living, and “city dwellers” did not realize the many advantages of satellite TV over cable. Satellite dishes also got a bad rap for losing their signal in inclement weather situations (heavy rain, wind or snow). Another past issue for satellite dishes was that to stay in sync with satellites, they had to be adjusted fairly often—which meant someone in the household had to manually adjust the position to receive a better signal.

But just like all the other technologies that have evolved since the early ‘90s (think giant brick-sized cell phones) DISH Satellite TV Equipmentsatellite technology has made leaps and bounds too.

With so many advances in technology, satellite dishes are now very small and don’t require any adjustments by the subscriber.  Now, satellites are fixed in a geosynchronous orbit, which means they move with the Earth and are fixed in a certain part of the sky. As long as your satellite dish stays in the alignment your installer set up (facing the southern sky), you will get a clear, consistent signal. Satellites are actually an extremely efficient way of broadcasting signals because one satellite signal can provide content to such a large area of the country without the impediment of needing physical cable connections like cable companies do.

Satellite Technology Components

Here is where this gets technical.

All satellite programming is now digital, which means it has better sound and picture quality; early satellite television was broadcast in C-band radio (radio in the 3.7 gigahertz to 6.4 gigahertz range). Digital broadcast satellite transmits programming in what is called the Ku frequency range (11.7 GHz to 14.5 GHz). There are five components to satellite TV technology:

  1. Programming source—These are the channels that provide programming for broadcast. DISH does not create original programming. It How Satellite TV Signals Workpays other companies (ESPN or Showtime®, for instance) for the right to broadcast their content via satellite, so the provider (in this case, DISH) is the “middleman” between the actual programming source and you, the customer.
  2. Broadcast center—This is the central hub of the system and where the TV provider (i.e. DISH) receives signals from programming sources (HBO®, CNN, etc.) and beams a broadcast signal to satellites in orbit.
  3. Satellites—Receive the signals and rebroadcast them back down to Earth.
  4. Satellite dish—Picks up the signal from the satellites in the sky and passes it on to the receiver in your home.
  5. Receiver—Processes the signal and passes it on to a television set.

If you’ve ever wondered, “How does satellite TV work?” you now have your answer! Satellite TV really is an amazing system to get programming into your home (or on your mobile device with TV Everywhere™ technology). As long as you have a view of the southern sky, there is a satellite signal just waiting for you to have a dish and a receiver to pick it up.

DISH’s customer service team stands ready to answer all of your questions if you’re considering making the switch to DISH. New DISH customers get great DISH deals like free standard installation, free premium channels for 3 months, HD Free for Life, and Blockbuster @Home Included when you sign up for DISH TV!

All offers, features, functionality and channel availability subject to change without notice. Please reference for current pricing and promotional information.
Posted on by DISHTV in DISH FAQs.

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