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How Satellite TV Works

Satellite has fast become one of the most popular ways to get channels to your TV – it has many benefits, including offering high-quality audio and picture functions in locations where traditional cable can’t typically reach.

One of the most significant disadvantages with satellite, however, is how the information is sent to your TV. Traditional TV connections like cable need antennas to connect to the frequency. Antennas need a clear course from your home to the transmitter in order to function properly. In real life, however, a clear course is hardly achievable. There are going to be all kinds of things that get in the way of this, from buildings to trees and even power poles. This is one of the biggest reasons why satellite became an option – as a way to combat this downside.

So, how does that satellite in the sky connect the frequency to your TV so that you can enjoy all your favourite channels?

Cable TV and Satellite TV

Both of these TV frequencies need radio signals to get their information across and to the right place. However, the reason why satellite TV is preferable at this point is that it can get this information to you wherever you’re located, as long as you can see the sky. 

It does this by connecting your TV to satellites that are making their way around the Earth. Because satellites are located in the sky, they can reach a much more extensive range and use satellite dishes to transmit their radio signals with ease.

Just like with anything in life, both cable and satellite have their advantages and disadvantages. As you can see with this article, however, satellite does come across as the better option when it comes to the quality of your frequency. There’s not going to be any buffering between the satellite sending the signal and your TV receiving it. If you go with cable, however, you may not get a signal at all if you live out in the country, and you could end up accruing service costs to gain a better connection. 

How Satellite Transmits Your Information

So, how exactly does a satellite get the information your TV needs to your TV? Let’s take a look at the four-step process:

  1. Channel Sources: the channels that you love to watch will put their content out there for the satellite to receive through what is called a fibre optic.  
  2. The Broadcast Center: the broadcast center then receives this information that has been given to the satellite and converts it into a language that your TV can understand. This information then gets sent to yet another satellite so that the dish sitting on the roof of your house can receive it.  
  3. Your Roof: the dish sitting on the top of your house will then be given the information that the broadcast center has received from the second satellite.  
  4. Making the Connection: a receiver will then get the information from the dish on your roof which it will then process so that it’s ready to be given to your TV. 

What Are Programming Sources

We mentioned earlier that a satellite needs to receive information in the first place in order to give it to the broadcast centre so that it can then pass it on to a second satellite. So, what are the sources of these channels and how vital is their role in all of this?

  • Local Channels: regional channels that are relevant to a specific location usually don’t send their information directly to the satellite. They typically use a broadcast centre first before the first satellite, so the process is switched up a little bit. 
  • Turnaround Channels: these types of channels usually aren’t confined to a region or specific location and have their own broadcast centre that can send the information to the satellite directly, without having to send it somewhere else first. 

Encoding Satellite Information

When it comes to transforming the information into a language that your TV can understand, it is usually a three-step process. Let’s take a look at what this involves. 

  1. Compression: because the information that the satellite sends is coming from space, the data needs to be packaged a little differently in order to make the journey successfully. Compressing it means turning it into a smaller file that can be sent more efficiently.  
  2. Encoding: once it has been compressed successfully and sent from the satellite, the broadcast centre can then receive it. The broadcast centre will then take a look at it and remove any data that doesn’t need to be there. 
  3. Transmission and Encryption: one the broadcast centre has made sure everything is ok with the compressed file, it can be sent to the satellite. The satellite will then send it down to the dish on your roof. 

The Dish On Your Roof

There are three main parts of the dish on your roof. The first is called the ‘parabolic surface.’ This is the main part of the dish and the reason for its name, due to its concave shape. This helps it to receive radio waves successfully. The second part is a converter that helps to amplify any radio signals it collects, as well as getting rid of any information that doesn’t need to be sent to your TV. Lastly, a feed horn keeps the converter in place so that it can do its job.

Your TV: The Last Step

Last but not least, the information is sent to your TV. The satellite receiver makes sense of the encrypted information and converts it as a last-ditch attempt to make it readable for your TV. Once this is done, it will convert it so that the analogue format or HDTV format of your TV can get the signal.