What technology makes DirecTV, DishNetwork, etc. possible?

Not so long ago, having a sattelite dish meant having this monsterous dish in the backyard with motorized mounts and such. Now, my satellite dish is a little larger than a dinner plate and sits on the side of my house. What technology changed to make these new, smaller dishes possible? Besides home TV service, I know these same dishes can be used for data transmission for businesses and others. Does anyone still use the older, larger dishes? Ordering a TV service like DirecTV is no more difficult than ordering local cable TV service. Are there still companies that sell TV and data services to the giant dishes?

The newer radio dishes use a higher frequency radio frequencies than the old sattelite dishes. In general, the higher the frequency the shorter the antenna (or smaller the dish) needed. IIRC the newer sattelite systems are higher power (in general, the higher power the transmitter the smaller dish you need)

Old style sattelite systems are still used (how do you think cable companies get thier signal? or your local broadcast station gets the network feed). Also, google 4DTV for some more info.

Interestingly enough, lots of big dish folk like the plethora of audio stations more than the TV stations.


Ah, the days of C-band satellite.

Dish Network and DirecTV are Ku-band.

What really killed C-band satellite was the crackdown on unlicensed descramblers. I can remember when virtually every network was “in the clear,” or not encrypted. Then came the VideoCipher II, and then the RS, and then finally 4DTV. Now there’s a lot of people with obsolete hardware collecting dust on shelves (or holding up Dish Network boxes, like at my parents’ house.)

Another thing that made the little dishes possible is a completely digital signal. This means that as long as you can receive a signal above a minimum threshold a small dish will give a perfect picture, i.e. no static, ghosting, or any other low signal strength analog artifacts which need to be helped out with a huge dish.

A digital datastream also allowed for MPEG video compression which in turn, allowed for all the channels to be received from a single satellite (i.e. not only is the dish tiny, its stationary!) Or just a slightly larger, oval dish to receive 2 or 3 satellites.