Satellite TV is a broadcasting service which allows
subscribers to receive television signals through a
dish-shaped receiver unit. These signals are originally
uploaded to a communications satellite that is in a fixed
orbit above the earth, and then electronically scrambled
to prevent unauthorized downloading. Those who pay a
subscription fee for satellite TV service are issued both the
receiving dish and a descrambler. The actual tuning information
is fed into the television through a cable, much like the
earth-bound cable television services in competition
with satellite TV providers
Satellite TV solves many of the problems associated
with earlier television broadcasting methods. Television
stations originally broadcast their signals in two specific
radio wave bands- VHF (very high frequency) and UHF
(ultra-high frequency). Aerial antennas placed on roofs or
attached to the television itself would receive as much of
these radio wave transmissions as possible, but the results
could be barely watch able depending on the strength of the signal,
the terrain between the station and the television set,
and the atmospheric conditions. Cable television systems
could provide a better television signal, but this involved
stringing miles of insulated wire and creating subscription services.
Satellite TV provides a strong digital signal to subscribers'
television sets and is almost completely wireless.
Earlier satellite TV systems used very large dish receivers
in order to focus the distant signals onto a powered antenna.
Since different television channels were located on different
communication satellites, these dishes would have to
physically turn to predetermined points in the sky in order to
receive the proper signals. Because regulation of these early
dishes was not uniform, illegal electronic descramblers became
a lucrative underground market. Stiffer penalties for unauthorized
descramblers paved the way for legitimate satellite TV
Modern satellite TV services have streamlined the process.
A single communication satellite now remains in a steady
orbit above the Earth, allowing all subscribers to mount a
much smaller dish receiver at a fixed point. Technicians from
the satellite TV provider may install the dish or owners can
determine the proper receiving angle and do it themselves.
Instead of scanning various satellites for different channels,
modern satellite television providers license the use of popular
cable or broadcast channels. Much like a cable system,
the tuner descrambles selected programs sent out on a
specific frequency. This allows satellite providers the
option of pay-per-view movie rentals or the blocking
of adult-oriented or premium movie channels.
Satellite TV services are especially popular in rural areas
with poor broadcast reception and/or no cable service.
Purchase of a receiving dish is generally limited to homeowners,
not renters. Satellite dishes must have a clear line of sight to the
satellite itself for best reception. Some homeowners discover
that a grove of trees or mountainous terrain can be problematic.
Critics of satellite TV also mention reception problems during
heavy rains or snowfall. Signals between an earth-bound receiver
and a space-based satellite can be affected by atmospheric
conditions between them, but other television services also
have similar drawbacks. Many customers prefer the additional
channels available on satellite TV systems and the clarity of the