How Does Satellite TV Work?

Are you thinking about switching from cable to satellite TV? If so, you may have read some recent reviews of the most technically advanced, powerful whole-home HD DVR system in the business, the Hopper from DISH. People are raving about what this amazing piece of satellite TV technology can do. When making a big decision like choosing a pay TV provider, it’s important to do your research and know the facts. As part of that research, you might want to know how satellite TV works.

How Satellite TV Works

How Satellite TV Works 1Satellite TV has come a long way since the early 1990’s. Remember how big the first cell phones were? In a similar way, the first satellite dishes were big, bulky, and not very attractive and were mainly used by people living in rural areas, unable to get TV in any other way. However, just as cell phones have gotten smaller over the years as technology has advanced, so have satellite dishes.

Satellites that beam content down to those satellite dishes work because they are in what is called geosynchronous orbit, an orbit with an orbital period that matches the Earth’s rotation, so that they are always in the same part of the sky. These satellites send signals to your satellite dish faces their position in the southern sky. As long as your dish remains aligned properly, your signal will be clear and consistent. It’s a common misconception that satellite signals are lost with the a little bit of wind, rain or snow. In fact, satellite TV signals have proven to be more reliable than cable! Statistics shows that cable TV outages average 3-5% a year while satellite TV outages average a mere 1% annually. Throw in the award-winning customer service team from DISH and you get great technology and great service!

Satellites are a highly efficient way of broadcasting signals because they can carry so much content to such a large area of the country without needing the cable connections that cable companies do. Satellite programming is all digital, giving you better picture and sound quality. Here’s a look at some basic components of satellite TV:

  1. Programming source: The channels that provide programming to broadcast. DISH pays networks like ESPN and HBO for the right to broadcast their content to DISH subscribers.
  2. Broadcast center: This is the hub of the satellite TV system where DISH receives signals from the satellites of programming sources like ESPN and HBOand re-sends the broadcast signal back up to the DISH satellites in geosynchronous orbit.
  3. Satellites: Receive the signals and rebroadcast them back down to Earth to meet your satellite dish.
  4. Dish: The satellite DISH on your roof or in your yard picks up the signal from the satellites in the sky and passes the signal to the receiver located in your home.
  5. Receiver: Your Hopper or whatever receiver you have then processes the signal and passes it to the TV; you then get television programming!


The device at the end of your satellite dish’s arm is called a “low noise block” or LNB. The signal from DISH’s satellite bounces off the dish and into the LNB; the LNB filters out any background noise and amplifies the signal so it can be divided into channels.

DISH receivers interpret the signal from the LNB into a format that can be viewed by your TV, allowing you to switch between individual channels at the same time. DISH receivers also allow you to record and store programs for later viewing (DVR hard drives) and to use parental controls to block certain shows you don’t want your children to watch. DISH offers customers standard, high-def or DVR receivers and all three have various features and functions.

How Satellite TV Works 2If you have ever wondered how satellite TV works, this information may help you decide to switch from cable to satellite TV. How satellite TV works is fascinating and if you do decide to make the switch to DISH, you will not be disappointed!

If you’re ready to experience TV like never before, now is a great time to sign up for DISH because the Fall Sales Event is going on now. Take advantage of fantastic DISH deals like the Hopper FREE with DISH packages America’s Top 120 and higher! Learn more about the DISH Fall Sales Event and order before this sale comes to an end!

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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