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29.06.2012 11:30

History of Satellite Television

Maia Tsiklauri
Digital Broadcasting
Astra (photo: )

First satellite television was launched in the USA about 30 years ago.  Today, in all the developed countries satellite antenna is installed at apartment houses and cottages and is an indivisible part of the landscape.  Satellite television means hundreds of TV-channels with diverse themes and good digital quality. 

Advantages of satellite digital television are better image quality and audio.  Technology of signal transmission via satellite creates possibility of transmission of more channels with better quality.  Additionally, customers of satellite televisions do not depend on infrastructure – satellite antennas can be installed at any location. 

Englishman Arthur Clark first initiated the idea of satellite communication in 1945.  In a radio-technical magazine he published an article on the perspectives of using rockets for launching earth satellites for scientific and practical purposes. 

1957 – USSR launched first artificial satellite to Cosmos the signal of which was being received on earth. 

1962 – First TV satellite signal was transmitted from Europe to Northern America via Telstar satellite. 

1963 – First geostationary communication satellite Syncom 2 was launched. 

1963 – First national network of satellite television Orbita was created in the USSR. 

1965 – First communication world commercial communication satellite Intelsat I (named Early Bird) was launched. 

1972 – First geostationary satellite Anik of North America was launched.  The satellite transmitted TV-signal. 

1974 – First world experimental educational and director transmission satellite ATS-6 was launched. 

1976 – First Soviet geostationary satellite Ekran (Screen) was launched.  The satellite directly transmitted television to households. 

Using satellite for transmitting TV-signals started when first communication satellite was launched. 

In 1977 the International Plan for Satellite TV-Broadcasting was adopted.  The plan determined position of satellites at geostationary orbit, frequency channels, service zones, signal levels and etc.  According to the plan five national programs were to be broadcasted via satellite televisions in each of the countries.  There was no plan for international broadcasting at that time.  When technical possibilities for launching international broadcasting appeared the land transmission networks were created in several developed countries; the networks were able to receive 2-4 national programs.  There was no demand for further development of the networks so there was no necessity for developing special plan for national broadcasting. 

Although, almost at the same time the interest to programs aimed at specific target audience started growing.  For example target groups as children, housewives, music, or sports fans, although this happened only in several countries.  The most convenient for transmitting such channels were satellite channels along with multichannel land cables of distribution networks. 

Initially it was attempted to control unsanctioned usage facts when rebroadcasting was done by fixed satellite networks and the attempt succeeded.  Still, gradually the situation changed due to technological development for avoiding stealing of signals it was necessary to introduce signal encoding; this was also used for charged channels. 

Digital satellite television becomes more and more popular today.  Holland, Finland, Andorra, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Mann Island, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Spain, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Luxemburg, Israel, Austria, Monaco, Scotland, Cyprus, France, Serbia have already switched to digital broadcasting and have switched off analogous broadcasting. 

International experience shows that switching to digital television is of certain advantage for population:  higher quality of image and audio, wide format, enough capacity of high definition channels, possibility to transmit more channels with same expense and interactivity. 

It is known that in January 2012 telecommunication company MagtiCom and leading satellite operator SES announced the launch of the first DTH satellite television platform in Georgia- MagtiSat. MagtiSat broadcasts via ASTRA satellite, owned by SES. MagtiSat offers more than 75 channels both standard (SD) and high definition (HD).

SES is leading satellite operator with a fleet of 50 geostationary satellites. Nowadays SES broadcasts more than 6000 tele- and radio- channels over the world, 1200 of them are HD channels. SES’ satellites cover more than 258 million households worldwide and carrying 43 DTH platforms on all continents.


Article provided by satellite operator SES







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