Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Television Media Space

DirecTV Plans 1500 HiDef Channels by End of 2007 295

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the infomercials-and-bad-movies dept.
doormat writes "DirecTV plans on launching four Ka-band satellites by 2007. This means local HiDef channels over satellite for the biggest markets by the end of 2005, with room for 500 HD channels. Plus 1000 more HD local channels and 150 national HD channels by the end of 2007. Thats a total bandwidth of 34Gbit/s, which is about 10 times the bandwidth they currently have in the Ku band (the band they use now for direct-to-home TV service). The bandwidth crunch for satellite providers is over, and the Ka band is the answer."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

DirecTV Plans 1500 HiDef Channels by End of 2007

Comments Filter:
  • Ka? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:14AM (#10209934)
    Oh no. My radar detector is going to catch fire.
    • Re:Ka? (Score:2, Funny)

      by Unnngh! (731758)
      Oh no. My radar detector is going to catch fire.

      Sure, announce it to the world why don't you? Now every cop around here will start carrying a cable broadcast satellite in the back of the patrol car just to stop people like us. Way to go!

    • Re:Ka? (Score:4, Funny)

      by blanks (108019) on Friday September 10, 2004 @07:53AM (#10211158) Homepage Journal
      And there still wont be anything on.
  • Rain Fade (Score:5, Insightful)

    by composer777 (175489) * on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:16AM (#10209954)
    I hope they've figured out how to adequately solve the problem of rain fade on the Ka Band. From what little I understand of satellite transmission, rain fade is an even bigger problem on the Ka Band than it is on the current Ku Band that Directv uses. It's not a problem at all on the C Band (big dish) satellites. Do they plan on getting around this by using more power? Or, do they think that more rain fade is an acceptable trade-off for the extra bandwidth?
    • Re:Rain Fade (Score:3, Interesting)

      by the_denman (800425)
      my understanding is that they will do it in the same way that they get away with using the little dishes, pumping a huge amount of power out.

      DIRECTV 10 and DIRECTV 11, to be built by Boeing, will be among the largest and most powerful Ka-band satellites ever launched.

      • Re:Rain Fade (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:45AM (#10210097) Homepage
        my understanding is that they will do it in the same way that they get away with using the little dishes, pumping a huge amount of power out.
        It's a satellite. Powered by solar cells. As much as they'd probably love to pump a `huge amount of power out', they don't have a huge amount of power to pump with. According to this link [nasa.gov], the solar cells (which are huge!) of this satellite put out 4.3 kW of power. Which is a lot, but I imagine that's peak power, and the satellite cannot be in the sun all the time, so it's got to charge batteries for night time use, and it's transmitters are not 100% efficient ...

        All in all, I doubt it can put out 1000 watts of RF power 24/7. Compare that to your local FM station that probably broadcasts with 100,000 watts and only serves an area with an 60 mile or so radius. At high frequencies, you don't need a large dish for high gain (doubling the frequency generally doubles the gain), so the little dishes do the job.

        Still, that's pretty impressive. 4.3 kW of power for a satellite? And the new ones are likely to be even bigger. (For comparison, Voyager broadcasts with 13 watts of power. Of course, it's power source is probably nuclear.)

        With 4.3 kW of power coming in at peak (and never mind that solar cells aren't very efficient, so there's several times that amount of heat being collected by the solar cells), I wonder how they keep it cool. In space, you can't just tack on a big fan ... you need to radiate your heat into space.

        • Re:Rain Fade (Score:5, Informative)

          by Elrond, Duke of URL (2657) <JetpackJohn@gmail.com> on Friday September 10, 2004 @02:01AM (#10210158) Homepage
          Let's not forget that these sats are geosynchronous, which puts them out at roughly 25K miles. The shadow cast by the Earth is much smaller than near the Earth. And, of course, these sats won't necessarily be in the path of that shadow at all.

          So, I think it's fair to assume that they spend most of their time in the light soaking up power. Also, solar cell panels on large expensive satellites are usually computer guided. They deploy and then track the Sun so they'll get most of the power most of the time.

          The link you gave only mentions the three existing satellites. They generate 4.3kW of power. Those sats, however, are almost 10 years old now. The article doesn't say, but I would guess that these new sats generate even more power (more efficient and/or bigger cells).

          • Re:Rain Fade (Score:3, Interesting)

            by dougmc (70836)

            Let's not forget that these sats are geosynchronous, which puts them out at roughly 25K miles. The shadow cast by the Earth is much smaller than near the Earth. And, of course, these sats won't necessarily be in the path of that shadow at all.

            I guess I hadn't taken that into consideration. I was thinking that since it rotated along with the Earth (being geosynchronous and all) that it got 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. Obviously wrong, considering how far it is from the Earth.

            Obviousl

            • Excellent thread. Nothing to add really, but the parent threads provide good, clear insight that I'd never thought about.

              Just thought I'd throw out a thanks for the insight!
          • Re:Rain Fade (Score:3, Informative)

            by NialScorva (213763)
            well, the Earth's shadow is pretty much the same size as the Earth, since sunlight is a rather pretty close to parallel by the time it travels the 93 million miles to get here. It's just that the orbital radius is 5 times the radius of the earth, so it flies through the dark area pretty quickly.
        • Re:Rain Fade (Score:5, Interesting)

          by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Friday September 10, 2004 @02:03AM (#10210166) Homepage
          I found another link [geek.com] which isn't what I'd call authoritative, but suggests that the (newer? Boeing 701 vs Boeing 601?) DTV satellites put out 3.5 kW of RF power. Which is still a lot, but still nothing compared to a single FM radio station. Of course, it helps not having to go through buildings, trees, etc. And having an antenna with a nice bit of gain over a simple dipole (if you're lucky) for the FM band.

          I believe the systems used to talk to submarines using the extremely low frequency bands (ELF) use something like three megawatts of power ...

        • Re:Rain Fade (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Wavicle (181176)
          Which is a lot, but I imagine that's peak power, and the satellite cannot be in the sun all the time, so it's got to charge batteries for night time use

          It is true that the satellites need battery power for when the earth eclipses its access to the sun. Fortunately the batteries never need to last much more than an hour, and this is only for a few weeks on either side of each equinox. Access to the sun isn't a huge problem for these satellites until the quality of the batteries declines from too many cha
        • Re:Rain Fade (Score:5, Informative)

          by stuktongue (140376) <adam DOT grenberg AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 10, 2004 @02:55AM (#10210332)
          Solar cells are small. They are arrayed to create solar arrays, or solar panels. These can be quite large, depending on the power requirements of the satellite.

          Nominal power ratings for satellites assume sun-normal orientation of the solar arrays, which is actively maintained by the satellite. The satellite receives 100% illumination by the sun during most of the year, the exceptions being the spring and fall eclipse seasons, when the satellite transits the Earth's penumbral and umbral regions for up to a couple of hours per day. During these events, solar array power is augmented with battery power. Bus voltage drops and current draws increase, but transmitted powers generally stay the same. Yes, over the life of the satellite (10-15+ years) batteries degrade somewhat, though battery reconditioning techniques are employed to mitigate this. With today's designs, running out of fuel is usually what limits mission life.

          The reason terrestrial radio stations require the power levels they do is that they typically transmit more or less omni-directionally (or at least toroidally), as opposed to how geo satellites use highly-directional (high gain) antennas for CONUS (or whatever) coverage. The effect of the differences between these two antenna types (tens of dB in gain) far outweighs the 20 dB power difference you mention (1 kW vs. 100 kW). The high gain antennas for DBS allow multiple channels of high bandwidth at reduced power vs. their terrestrial brethren. They're really two totally different kettles of fish.

          Finally, thermal management is an important part of modern satellite design. Heat pipes, thermal radiators (mirrors), finishes, and other techniques are all used to collect, distribute, and reject heat. The effectiveness of these techniques can limit a design, and how capable a company is at dealing with thermal problems can determine the capabilities of its offerings relative to those of its competitors.

          BTW, the current commercial satellite models offered by Boeing are based on the 702 bus, which supercedes the 601. Both of these designs were the product of Hughes Space and Communications Co. (part of the old Hughes Aircraft Company), now Boeing Satellite Systems (Boeing bought HSC in 2000).
          • Stuktongue said:
            'Finally, thermal management is an important part of modern satellite design. Heat pipes, thermal radiators (mirrors), finishes, and other techniques are all used to collect, distribute, and reject heat. The effectiveness of these techniques can limit a design, and how capable a company is at dealing with thermal problems can determine the capabilities of its offerings relative to those of its competitors.'

            You seem to know what you are talking about. Mind fielding a question for me?

            I know
            • Re:Rain Fade (Score:4, Interesting)

              by johannesg (664142) on Friday September 10, 2004 @06:01AM (#10210829)
              Heat can be transferred through conduction or radiation. You are right that there is no conduction in space, but radiation still occurs (that's how solar heat gets to us). The problem is that radiation is far less effective than conduction, thus temperature management of any spacecraft is indeed a major issue. For this reason any new spacecraft design undergoes thorough thermal testing in a specially designed vacuum facility.

              While I cannot claim to be an expert on thermal analysis, I have been working as a software expert in ESA's spacecraft testing centre [estec.esa.nl] for the past six years, writing and maintaining the software used to gather, process, and present thermal data during thermal testing. The big device in the top-left corner of the image is ESA's Large Space Simulator, and the little room a little to the right of that is my office ;-)

              A thermal test typically lasts a few weeks, and we would typically be gathering data from 1500-2000 sensors (mostly thermocouples and PT100's) on the spacecraft, plus another 1000-1500 from the facility itself (depending on configuration). This adds up to a couple of gigabytes worth of data.

              Right now the first ATV (the Autonomous Transfer Vehicle that is scheduled to bring freight to ISS starting next year or so) is being prepped for testing, somewhere at the end of this year.

              Since this is /., I should probably add that for presentation and control of the system we use a mix of HP-UX (for historical reasons) and Windows XP PC's. Our main server is an aging HP-UX machine, which we will soon be replacing by a Linux solution. I've been gently pushing Linux for a while now, but one of my problems is that many of the acquisition systems require GPIB support which is hard to find under Linux (there are no drivers available for HP cards).

              There are guided tours from the Space Expo [spaceexpo.nl], if you are interested.

    • Re:Rain Fade (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cramer (69040)
      C band hardware doesn't have a problem with rain fade because the dish is over a meter wide. If you aimed a 1.8m dish at one of the DTV birds, you wouldn't have a problem with rain fade either. (you'd have a bigger problem keeping it properly aimed, btw.)
      • Re:Rain Fade (Score:5, Informative)

        by stuktongue (140376) <adam DOT grenberg AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 10, 2004 @02:11AM (#10210198)
        C band hardware doesn't have a problem with rain fade because the dish is over a meter wide.

        Actually, the primary reason for C band's superior performance w.r.t. rain fade is the reduced atmospheric attenuation associated with lower frequencies, in general, and, in particular, with C band's frequencies vs. K band's frequencies. The atmosphere has different effects at different frequencies. The reduced attenuation at C band allows for greater link margin and, therefore, greater link robustness vs. rain.

        The gains of a 1.8m dish at C band and a DirecTV dish at K band are similar. (Higher frequencies require smaller dishes for the same gain.)

        If you aimed a 1.8m dish at one of the DTV birds, you wouldn't have a problem with rain fade either. (you'd have a bigger problem keeping it properly aimed, btw.)

        Very true. Of course, the dish (antenna, in general) would have to be designed to operate at K band frequencies. It's not a given that you can just swap reflectors around. Antenna design at microwave frequencies is complex.
        • Re:Rain Fade (Score:4, Informative)

          by Cramer (69040) on Friday September 10, 2004 @02:26AM (#10210246) Homepage
          I was gonna mention that (Ka/Ku is close to the vibration frequency of H2O, add in the scatter from lots of water droplets...) but I didn't want to get overly technical :-) I'll add, C band signals are encoded different than (DTV) K band stuff.

          (DTV/DISH dishes larger than 18" are available -- up to 35" as I recall. But the aiming sensitivity makes them less desirable for general use.)
    • Re:Rain Fade (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Admiral Llama (2826)
      The new 4 or 5 LNB dish is going to have about 70% more surface area. That should go some way towards dealing with the rain fade.

      Speaking of rain fade, I barely ever see it. When the eye wall of Hurricane Frances went over my house, that wasn't enough to do it. It has to be a really thick drenching rain, and even then we're only talking about a few minutes of fade per year. Cable craps out more often than that, and costs more.
  • by nuclear305 (674185) * on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:17AM (#10209956)
    "The bandwidth crunch for satellite providers is over, and the Ka band is the answer."

    Such little insight...

    Of course, next week we'll be hearing about KBv6 (Ka-Band v6)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:19AM (#10209970)
    1500 channels sounds good, but what are they going to do for content? If the crap airing now is any indication, there's going to be a lot of dead air in 2007. Maybe they can use the equipment for satellite internet.
    • by NanoGator (522640) on Friday September 10, 2004 @03:02AM (#10210347) Homepage Journal
      "1500 channels sounds good, but what are they going to do for content?"

      The Star Trek Channel, the A Team Channel, the Quantum Leap Channel, the Will and Grace Channel, the Cowboy Neal Channel....
    • It doesn't mean 1500 active channels, they will be used for interactive services. For example, when a new film premiers on digital here in the UK, it is usually done on a Saturday night with shows starting ever 15 minutes. For a two hour film on rotation, that's 8 channels alone. You tune to the "official" channel that it's on, and the set-top box branches you onto the channel that is next about to start showing it.

      Add pay-per-view channels, interactive services (BBC has a good set up here), and that band

  • by penginkun (585807) on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:20AM (#10209973)
    I shudder to think how they're going to fill 1500 channels.

    The Survivor Channel. The Paris Hilton Sex Tape Channel. The Dixon-Ticonderoga #2 Pencil Channel. The Slashdot Channel.

    Etc, etc...
    • The Slashdot Channel

      Cowboyneal in hot grits? Those sick, sick bastards!

    • It will not be 1500 channels for everyone. By law DirecTV and Dish and every other SAT provider have to provide all the locals to all the folks. Meaning if they offer locals to Atlanta then they have to offer all the locals to every other city they beam too. So this means they have to carry even the crap networks that are available via an antenna. 1500 channels quickly pair down to 5-10 locals for each city they provide locals too. This is one reason they created the spot beam tech. They can use the same tr
    • There is some debate over whether porn should be hidef or not. It sounds like a good idea to you and me, but those that have seen it say that current airbrushing techniques are dependent on the low resolution...

      Wouldn't want people to be turned off by the track marks they can no longer hide, or the pus-filled giant pimples on these skank's asses, you know?
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:20AM (#10209974)
    Even today DirecTV is compressing their HD signals to fit more channels in the same bandwidth. They OUGHT to be maxing out the 19.8Mbps that ATSC allocates because for some scenes, 19.8Mbps isn't quite enough to fully resolve high-motion without ugly macro-blocking.

    But, HD shows on DirecTV (and a lot of the other satellight providers) are being squished down into 14Mbps or less. It's like they don't get it - HDTV is about the HIGH DEFINITION not the LSTCTV (lots of stupid channels tv). People who pay for high def want the best possible picture quality, not the most possible crappy looking channels.

    Leave the crappy picture quality to the standard def channels where people have already given up on ever getting it look good again (once upon a tv, early in the mini-dish era, the standard-def channels had so much bandwidth available that they often looked at least as good as DVD and lots of times they would even look better, but it hasn't been like that for years).
    • by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:49AM (#10210116)
      DirecTV won't have to recompress the channels at all. The 2 new SPACEWAY sats can easily deliver every current local HD channel, with plenty of room for expansion.

      Estimates put the total capacity for SPACEWAY at around 500 full-bitrate HD channels. Multiply by two satellites (the third is a spare), and that's 1000 HD channels (note that this figure is based on a 25/75 mix of 720p to 1080i).

      There are around 1800 channels in the country, but at least half of those (religous channels, shopping channels, etc.) have no plans to broadcast HD in the immediate future.
    • stat-muxing is not compression. that is all.
    • Compressed or not, DirecTV blows away Comcast digital cable. Completely. I have had both. I have an HD Mitsu TV. Comcast should be embarrassed for the product they put out. DirecTV, even in standard definition beats some of the "digital" Comcast channels. I never tried HD through Comcast, I got tired of waiting.
  • by Dzimas (547818) on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:21AM (#10209981)
    Wow. 1700 channels. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from changing the channel! The only problem is that there are relatively few good shows on at any one time, and none old the "classics" are HD. So the fancy 16:9 GasChromatographBlueLED flat-panel is going serve up 800+ channels of crummy-looking 4:3 interlaced NTSC or PAL "classics" like Mork & Mindy.
    • by bitingduck (810730) on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:53AM (#10210127) Homepage
      My mom already thinks her digital cable is like a time machine, because nearly everything she's ever watched is still on.

      With 1700 channels, everything that was ever shown on TV could be rebroadcast on a regular basis-- there could even be multiple Love Boat channels, a channel for each Star Trek season, one for the good Star Trek movies, and one for the bad...
    • Why? Because then there's more chance of what I want to watch being available. I'm all for channel overload, they'll just need a box that's smart enough to let you categorize (which shouldn't be a problem).

      For example I'm a Law and Order nut. It's my favourite show and I can watch the espiodes over and over. I would love a Law and Order channel, that just showed it 24/7. Then, whenever I decided I wanted to see it, I could sit down and do so.

      You are right that as the number of channels go up, the crap wil
      • For example I'm a Law and Order nut. It's my favourite show and I can watch the espiodes over and over. I would love a Law and Order channel, that just showed it 24/7. Then, whenever I decided I wanted to see it, I could sit down and do so.

        They're not going to do that -- it'll cut into sales of the DVDs. The trend these days is to show fewer and fewer repeats. Look, for instance, at 24 and Alias. No repeats this year -- just realy quick full-season DVDs.
      • They've had a Law and Order channel for years, chances are you're already subscribed to it. It's called "TNT".

        Also, please tell me that you only like the newer seasons with Jerry Orbach. His partner doesn't matter so much, but that first guy was just awful. Whathisname the DA, Jack Malone.. also superior to the original character. If only all lawyers were half as wise, or 1/100th as ethical...
    • Wrong! (Score:4, Informative)

      by ostiguy (63618) on Friday September 10, 2004 @06:28AM (#10210903)
      Apparently Paramount studios' tv productions were shot on film. Some of their back catalog is being restore for HD syndication - Cheers is already being shown in HD on some local channels.

      ostiguy
    • Yes, 99% of it all is junk that you wouldn't want to watch, ever. However even compensating for the increased junk factor, 99.7% of 1700 is still lot more than 99% of 200 (or whatever). Toss in a Tivo and you'll never peel your ass off the couch.
    • Some of the oldest stuff was put on fancy film. Properly re-mastered (assuming the masters still exist, and aren't film-rotted) these could expose every bit as much resolution as modern films. Not that anyway will bother...
  • Ka-Band Report (Score:5, Informative)

    by NEOtaku17 (679902) on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:26AM (#10210007) Homepage

    # They will lead to a fundamental restructuring of the world's communications satellite industry and lead to the development of global satellite operators with integrated L-band, C-band, Ku-band and Ka-band systems, using geostationary and low and middle earth orbits.

    # This will reinforce the dominance of the United States in the provision of space and ground infrastructure, information technology and services.

    # It looks likely that either low earth or middle earth orbiting satellite systems will have a major competitive advantage over geostationary systems. Such Ka-band networks will, in the long run, be integrated with Big LEO mobile satellite networks.

    # Geostationary Ka-band satellites will be ineffective in providing a platform for ATM services because of the time delay in a signal being transmitted from one ground station to another through such a satellite. The problem is likely to be addressed by using low or medium earth orbit satellites.

    # Current regional or major domestic satellite operators will only survive in this market if they tie closely to the dominant global operators. Use of inter-satellite links will facilitate this.

    # If they do not cooperate, they are faced with the option of getting into the US marketplace or getting out of the satcoms business altogether.

    # There is no one clearly identified "killer application" for Ka-band satellites but provision of high speed Internet and associated services is likely to be a major short to medium term lead market. Ka-band satellites can provide the cheapest and most quickly available of all options (high speed cable modems, ADSL and ISDN) in providing such high speed access.

    # Ka-band satellites are likely to find a role in the mass consumer markets with "Home-use VSAT" sales running into, perhaps, millions per year. Consumers are also likely to be offered combined Ku-band/Ka-band dishes capable of receiving digital satellite television services and providing two-way services.

    # Ka-band satellites will offer the best of 21st Century communications services to underdeveloped regions of the world.

    # The policy and regulatory issues behind Ka-band satellites are far more complex and demanding than those that have hitherto faced any form of satellite communications including DTH and DBS TV, VSATs and PCS mobile communications satellites.

    # The United States is arm twisting the rest of the world to open up the global telecommunications market place to allow Ka-band satellite operators to compete with local telecoms and satellite interests.

    # The Ka-band Report contradicts the conventional wisdom that Ka-band satellites will come later rather than sooner. Behind closed door developments facilitating Ka-band communications are happening right now - with the satellite operators, the

    # European Commission, the World Trade organisation and elsewhere.

    # The first orders for broadband Ka-band satellites are likely to be placed this year.

    # There will be a considerable shakeout of the current number of plans for Ka-band satellite systems with only the stronger or more entrepreneurial projects surviving. Even so, some major satellite operators remain woefully unprepared for the Ka-band era.

    # The world's satellite operators should be looking to Ka-band services, not digital satellite television, as their next great market opportunity.

    # They will need to develop new marketing policies and customer bases and cultivate new partners both amongst existing and new telecoms operators.

    # Europe remains way behind the United States in developing the appropriate satellite technology (on-board processing, switching, antennas) and ground stations (phased array antennas) needed for the Ka-band environment.

    Source: http://www.mindbranch.com

    • by Sancho (17056)
      # It looks likely that either low earth or middle earth orbiting satellite systems will have a major competitive advantage over geostationary systems.

      So /that's/ how Sauran saw everything....
  • by AssProphet (757870) * on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:27AM (#10210011) Homepage Journal
    Consider the cost involved in production of programming for television channels, and then add the cost of businesses paying for the marketing to pay for that programming. Now add all the people who are watching television because there is "nothing better to do."

    It just saddens me to see such an investment in entertainment. Especially since entertainment doesn't have any kind of economic return for the individual. I'll agree that entertainment is necessary for humans to enjoy life, but 1500 channels is beyond excessive.
    • Your whole point boils down to:

      1500 channels is beyond excessive.

      Which shows that you are confused on the issue.

      You see, you aren't getting 1500 channels when you get DirecTV. In fact, most of them I wouldn't call "channels" so much as "placeholders". I say that because a great number of these channels are Pay-Per-View stations. They are nothing but placeholders because they are blank 99% of the time, and only once a week or so will you see any programming on one particular PPV channel.

      In addition,

    • It just saddens me to see such an investment in entertainment. Especially since entertainment doesn't have any kind of economic return for the individual.

      It has a huge return for the advertisers. Stay tuned people! Consume!!!!

      People watch TV because they don't know what else to do. I know a lot of people who cannot relax in a sitting room with the TV turned off. Most rooms are laid out to worship the TV.

      You think this generation is bad? Wait until you see our kids generation! The internet might be th

  • Ah! (Score:5, Informative)

    by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp@@@gmail...com> on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:29AM (#10210021) Homepage
    I still haven't bought a satellite or digital cable subscription. Partly because I am cheap, but also in large part because MPEG fragments drive me up the wall. I mean, I'll deal with it when it's a uhh... legally downloaded movie I'm watching on my computer, but when I'm watching shows on my TV, I don't want them to be skimping on the bandwidth. If I can tell that you're using compression, then your bitrate is too low! Lord help the people with HDTVs, paying a boatload more for a better TV and HDTV channels and still getting MPEG fragments? Come on people, it's 2004.
    • No kidding. Whenever I go over to my freind's house, we might be watching one of the more "obscure" channels (in that very few people watch them) and there's times where the audio will drop to tinny crap, or the signal would just skip kind of like a scratched CD.
  • by loid_void (740416) * on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:29AM (#10210022) Homepage Journal
    I guess Mark Cuban was right, founding HDNet [pcworld.com], the first national HD network to broadcast all of its programming in 1080i resolution, the highest-quality format of high-definition. And isn't it a coincidence that there is a Ku band?
    • There is some debate about 1080i vs. 720p and which one is really the higher quality sigal.

      I just wish there was more content in HD right now. It's pretty sad how little there is, but those 5 channels sure are nice.

    • 1080i resolution, the highest-quality format of high-definition.

      Actually, I'd take a 720p video over a 1080i video.

      This is really the single biggest mark of stupidity in the HDTV standard... Just because many displays can't handle 1080p doesn't mean you should limit the standard to that... They should have made it 1080p, and just let the reciever convert it to interlaced and display it.

      That way those of us with better monitors (projectors!) can get a great quality signal... and in 10 years when people

    • I think news is the best, because news right now is all about talking heads. It's "I'm in Iraq and the bombs are blowing up behind me." Whereas with our news, we have a show called HDNet World Report where we put cameras in all kinds of hot spots--Iraq, wherever. And when we show a firefight or some sort of bombing, we don't have the reporter say anything. They just say, "We're in Iraq, we're in Baghdad, and there's a firefight going on, I'll shut up and let you watch it." And being able to see it in wide-s
  • The Future is TiVo (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Beller0ph1 (812228)

    Sure there will be stuff on 1700 channels 24/7, but who is going to watch it? I bet the most views they will get will be from PVRs; either in people's computers, TiVos, or the combination thereof. Heck, even with regular digital cable, I wish I had a Tivo...who knew Law and Order was on at least 4 times a day. And that's only on 1 channel.

    Then comes the fact that everyone will need to buy different equipment. And the manufacturers will either make a killing on it, or it will be a commodity, giving it a

  • .......cant wait!
    • by Temsi (452609)
      Forget Playboy... it's softcore (read: boring).

      When will we get Hustler TV? Or SCORE TV? A real, no holes barred, hardcore porn channel with closeups, penetration and moneyshots?
      How about a 24hr Pussyman marathon?
      Why is it that a $10 PPV version of a porno shows almost nothing, when a $3 rented dvd version of the same porno is a full blown version that shows everything?
      Since when do the FCC decency regulations apply to closed circuit PAID TV? And on that subject, who's idea of decency is the gold standa
      • GM, parent company of Hughes, was afraid to offend. Dishnet shows more (no holes barred), but still tends to be boring. Bell ExpressVu (canadian) shows even more, but be careful about the gay porn... it's not on any single channel, but randomly shows up on any of them (else I'd have already use parental lockout so that I wouldn't accidentally browse to it). Definitely recommend using the guide to select porn channels with BEV.

        Some of the porn you can pick up with generic (non-dish) DVB equipment and 1 mete
    • Wonder if it will be porn that drives new real-time image processing technologies:

      - automatic zit removal
      - wrinkle reducer
      - cellulite softener
      - razor burn & stubble removal
      - etc.
  • I think whenever there's a really big number used in an article write-up we should just abandon metric prefixes. I mean, c'mon, which number looks bigger (and thus cooler)? 34Gbit/s or 36,507,222,016bits/s? This could also be extended further for data rates by not writing them per second. How about 131,425,999,257,600 per hour? 3,154,223,982,182,400 bits per day? etc.

    The possibilities are endless.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:42AM (#10210084)
    But the 1500 HD channels is going have a majority of the channels devoted to local channels that you will only get in your respective local area. So, you won't have 1500 channels show up on your program guide, only the local channels all broadcast in HD plus the 200+ satellite-only HD channels.
  • by barfy (256323) on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:46AM (#10210102)
    First TiVo just works better with satellite than over the air, because it just copies the satellites digital signal rather than recompressing the stream.

    Second, HD looks GREAT on a SD TV. I have been a satellite subscriber since day one because local cable was aweful. It used to have a great picture, but the channel squeeze forced bit rates down so low it was like watching a good streaming internet image (crappy).

    But I now have HDTiVo hooked up to a very nice SD set (XBR2) and a very nice HD projector (NEC HT1000). The projector is great for movies, but is just too big for watching TV. But HD channels on the SD set are some of the best quality TV around.

    This will benefit all subscribers by getting high enough bandwidth for all stations, and more HD than will be provided by my local provider. I am just disappointed it is going to take 3 years to get up and running.
  • by weedenbc (719416) on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:49AM (#10210118)
    This year Fox and CBS are carrying several games each week in glorious HD. If you are a HD subscriber and a Sunday Ticket subscriber you get several of those games in HD each, plus every game in SD, plus the Sunday night ESPN games.

    I'm drooling already waiting for Sunday.

  • by Malc (1751) on Friday September 10, 2004 @01:53AM (#10210125)
    Who cares how many channels it can support? Those are just marketing gimics. I have 70 channels on basic cable and I can flip through them all and find only crap or commercials. TV was better back in the UK with just four channels. There was either really good stuff on, or it didn't take long to discover cricket and horse racing only. More channels != better TV. More channels == dilution and lower quality.
  • by bleckywelcky (518520) on Friday September 10, 2004 @02:06AM (#10210177)
    I've worked on scientific satellite designs and the Ka band is quite frequently used for downloading data from satellites to Earth. I would like to know what specific ranges of the Ka band Direct TV will be allowed to use, the article does not mention this information. If media content providers are allowed to move in on frequencies that are typically used for scientific satellites (or even close enough to cause interference), costs for obtaining this data and processing it could increase immensely. Or even worse, communication time could be reduced or even eliminated. Hopefully Direct TV will be constained enough that they don't impinge on these scientific efforts.
    • by stuktongue (140376) <adam DOT grenberg AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 10, 2004 @03:12AM (#10210383)
      Years ago, I processed reports from an organization known as the IFRB, which I seem to remember as the International Frequency Registration Board, or something like that. This organization received, circulated, and arbitrated RFCs for frequency bands made by the various satellite providers/manufacturers around the world. The purpose was to avoid interference between new systems and existing systems.

      Many techniques exist for reducing or eliminating interference, not just frequency separation. Polarization schemes are a big part of the solution, but there are others (spatial isolation, of course, and coding schemes with digital systems).

      If your data transmission is at all on the radar, so to speak, I think it'd be safe to say people are designing new systems to be compatible. Or so we think. :-)
  • Being a student, HDTV is a small part of that somewhat distant dream of a futuristic geek friendly home.

    Yes there are those of us who regard the number of TV channels we can receive as a mark of our success. But there is one fairly obvious question: What are they going to show on all these channels?

    1) Thousands of new, good quality, entertaining TV programs. - I should stop dreaming here.

    2) Go the way of digital telivision and show repeats or shopping channels 24/7. - Nice idea, but there are two pr

  • by kubrick (27291) on Friday September 10, 2004 @02:34AM (#10210271)
    so people can quote me in the future as an example of how misguided our thinking was in the past.

    34 Gbps should be enough for anyone.
  • ..."panem et circenses".
    Or, in more contemporary terms, it's Neo's red-pill / blue-pill choice.
  • I for one am glad DirecTV is making this development since it will encourage companies to make the transition to HDTV and abandon their analog transmissions (since most will be required to do so anyway). Sure, the content offered right now may be sub-par as far as programming goes, but that's only because there haven't been many reasons for networks to make that push.
  • Piltdown Man (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Graymalkin (13732) * on Friday September 10, 2004 @06:43AM (#10210933)
    I can think of a great use of 1500 high definition channels: video on demand (almost). As it stands services like TiVo are trying to take the traditonal watch-when-we-broadcast-or-else model used by television broadcasters and turn it into a watch-whenever-you'd-like model. This has proven to be very popular because there's plenty of people that honestly dislike having to sit down at particular times and watch a television show they like. If you love Adult Swim but have to be up at 7:00am you can tell TiVo to record it so you can watch it that evening when you get home.

    This model is limited to offering what broadcasters want to air on their particular channel allotment. This stems from the fact they've only got a finite amount of bandwidth available. With a huge amount of bandwidth available DirecTV could really shake up the traditional broadcast model.

    Instead of leasing channels to broadcasters DirecTV could instead sell bandwidth to content distributors. Say you wanted to watch a particular episode of the Sopranos. You'd tell your DirecTV DVR what episode you'd like to watch and it would consult a big broadcast content index. It'd find that episode 6 of the Sopranos would be downlinked from 6:45am to 7:45am on channel 751 on Monday. At 6:45am on Monday it would tune to channel 751 and record episode 6 of the Sopranos. You've now got an HD copy of the Sopranos, episode 6, on your DVR that you could watch whenever you wanted.

    Instead of leasing a whole channel for HBO to use they could simply sell HBO a bandwidth alotment. HBO could then broadcast an entire season of the Sopranos on whatever channel and whatever hour they wished. Subscribers could pick and choose which episodes they wanted to watch out of those and have their DVR record them. Channel 751 later that day might be downlinking Gilligan's Island episodes for all HBO cares, they're only concerned with the bandwidth they paid for to distribute the Sopranos that week.

    Any given week this proposed set of satellites could beam an obscene amount of data down to recievers. I think assigning such bandwidth to a rigid set of virtual "channels" would be a bit ridiculous. We're in the age of smart peripheral devices, televisions are no longer simply dumb boxes that convert radio signals to color pictures. Digital recievers can parse through a large amount of data to find specific things a person is looking for. There's enough computing power in my iPod to search through thousands of songs and pick out particular ones based on my criteria so it can't be terribly difficult to apply this idea to digital satellite broadcasts. Instead of looking through a miniature hard drive the system instead scans thousands of data streams.
  • the anik F2 satellite was launched in July with the promise of providing internet services to all of rural (or otherwise underserviced) Canada. It's a Ka band sat.

    but my question is, does anyone know about what internet connection services it will provide? At what cost? And, most important, when will it be available?
  • by sdo1 (213835) on Friday September 10, 2004 @08:02AM (#10211195) Journal
    I have DirecTV HD. Part of the HD package allows me to get the HD feed of CBS from New York. I also get HD from my local CBS affiliate via over-the-air (OTA) antenna.

    There is quite a difference in quality. Make no mistake, they both look great, but the signal over DirecTV is far more compressed. There's more compression artifacts, less detail, and a generally softer picture.

    It's great that DirecTV is taking the lead in HD... and this will only accelerate my desire to pick up a DirecTV-HD-TiVo... but I hope they take quality very seriously rather than just trying to stuff as many HD channels in their bandwidth as possible, damn the consequences.

    -S
  • I got thirteen channels of shit on the TV to choose from...

    Who watches TV these days?

  • by caudron (466327)
    If you want HDTV there is really only one extant choice. Get Voom [voom.com].

    It's got many more HD channels than any competitor, good content, and the system is designed from the ground up to accomodate HD.

    I had some installation problems (which are really the fault of the subcontractor who did the install) but once installed, I can now say that I wholeheartedly recommend them for anyone looking to have HDTV right now.

    I love the Voom-specific channels. They basically get thier own HD content and make there own st
    • I'm going to have to second this. I've had Voom since March, and though they had a few shortfalls, I'm VERY happy with their service. Oh, and as a side note to the geeks that looked into it before and skipped it because they didn't have Sci-Fi, as of 9/7/04, Voom carries Sci-Fi.

1 + 1 = 3, for large values of 1.

Working...