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Satellite2012 Feature Articles

March 15, 2012

DirecTV Pursues Ka-band for 'Ultra HDTV'

At the 2012 Satellite Convention which took place in Washington D.C. this week, Philip Goswitz of DirecTV (News - Alert) announced that, “4,000 and 8,000-line services are great for the satellite industry, and will ensure that satellite broadcasting continues to distinguish itself for image quality of service. We see this as a key strategic advantage for us.” Goswitz is disclosing how his company plans on providing its spectrum with advantages unique to satellite services.

Unlike new spectrum-seeking satellite companies that are now hoping to initiate Ku-band transmissions (like Qatar’s Es’hailSAT) Goswitz predicts that Ku-band will soon be obsolete and Ka-band is what consumers are turning towards for HDTV services. According to the press release, Japan plans to launch their Ultra-HDTC services using Ka-band in 2020. Goswitz says in addition to his company being fully aware of Ka-band transitions, DirecTV is also working on developing, “so-called Reverse Band for DBS.” The technological edge will include amongst other things, 3D viewing without glasses.

But what makes Ka-band superior to Ku-band? Goswitz says, “I am not even sure our own executives know! They don’t know the difference between Ka and Ku-band, and why should they?”

Whatever Ka-band means to anybody else may be unclear, but Goswitz recognizes it the means for one thing every business understands: money. He adds, “But Ka-band doesn’t just mean broadband. To us it means broadcasting. The truth is that as our Ku-band transmissions end, then increasingly every dollar in revenue is attributable to Ka-band. We’ll be entirely Ka-band in about five years. Currently, of our total $27 billion in annual revenues, about $20 billion comes from Ka-band,”

DirecTV has most recently made press appearances for their coveted spectrum. Companies like AT&T (News - Alert) have been denied the perusal of additional spectrum by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and have just recently been denied from acquiring T-Mobile for their spectrum.  Other satellite companies have suffered from regulations imposed by the FCC (News - Alert), so DirecTV’s spectrum is all the more valuable.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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