Future of Satellite TV
This article may be considered science fiction, just like Arthur C. Clark once had a scientific vision about 3 satellites orbiting the earth in geostationary orbits to make global communications possible. Everything in this article is merely a scientific vision and an extrapolation of current technologies into the future.
What would be the future of Satellite TV? That may seem to be a difficult question, but extrapolating what we know about the past into the future and some educated guesses, we may very well end up with a reasonable picture of what the future of satellite TV looks like. The future of satellite TV will be guided by these properties:
Receive and Transmit
Equipment Size and Costs
Satellite Capacity and Coverage
1 Receive and Transmit
What would be possible if you could not only receive, but also transmit? And in the same bandwidth as you receive? That would change the whole world. It is possible now to use the satellite for Internet purposes, but in a very simple and inefficient way. You receive via satellite, but transmit via phone. Upload capacity is completely limited by the dial up connection.
The idea of being able to transmit to a satellite from your home is new and will probably one day be reality. At the moment companies can use satellites to connect offices all over the country via satellite. Bandwidth is limited, or very expensive. Another problem for home use is the size of the satellite dish. At least 4 foot for small bandwidth and up to 10 feet or even more for higher bandwidths. In point 3 this bandwidth issue is explained in more detail.
2 Equipment Size and Costs
Your satellite equipment at home may seem small, but it is small because all it has to do is receive. Transmitting requires different equipment. Not so much in the house, but on the roof at the antenna there is need for a relative big transmitter. Also these are still pretty expensive and for domestic use just not affordable.
In the future this will change. Equipment will get smaller, and cheaper. Eventually when satellites are able to relay much more data than now (see point 3), having 10.000.000 transmitters on the ground won’t be a problem.
3 Satellite Capacity and Coverage
This will always be the bottle neck of satellites; how much data can they relay and how small an area can they cover. A satellite has multiple dishes and each dish can cover a part of the earth; small parts like just one state or big parts like the whole continental United States.
In the future satellites will be able to relay much more data, and cover much smaller areas. Especially the smaller coverage areas will be important. Having full capacity available for just a small area means higher bandwidth available for a small amount of people. Especially in urban areas it will be great to have a satellite cover just one neighborhood.
4 Antenna Size
This is a very important issue. Small antennas of 18 inches already exist, but these can receive only. The opening angle of an antenna like this is too big to get enough signal power to reach the satellite. In the future however, antennas will get better and eventually small antennas can be used to transmit to the satellite.
5 New Technologies
This will be the really interesting part. New technologies may open up possibilities that are never heard of before.
Imagine watching a movie in 3D, you sitting on your couch but watching a show as if you are in the audience when the TV show was recorded. You’re not really having a TV at home anymore, but a 3D entertainment room. (for those of you who like StarTrek, a not so strange idea). Normal Satellite TV will still be available of course.
In the future Satellite TV will open up so many possibilities that it is hard to imagine what our lives will be like in 30, or even just 20 years from now. To give an idea of how fast things are going. 50 years ago, there was nothing in space that was made by humans. Now there are even satellite graveyards (specific orbits where obsolete satellites are “parked”). The possibilities of satellite TV technology are growing faster every year. What took 10 years to develop 30 years ago is now done in 2 years.
Satellite TV is one of the driving forces for satellite technologies because the need to please million of subscribers is much stronger than the need to please the relative limited needs of communications for commercial purposes.
The future of satellite TV is so bright, that a supernova would pale in comparison!
By Gary Davis
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