Originally Posted by Sammer
While it would be impossible to limit the spot beams to exact DMA borders you might be surprised at how close some of the newer more advanced spot beams can come.
Does Echostar 14 count? It's been in service less than a year, and it has over 100 spot transponders, many of which they reportedly don't plan to activate until after they switch from QPSK/MPEG-2 to 8PSK/MPEG-4.
According to the channel chart at satelliteguys.us, the E14 spot beams I'm receiving carry channels from Hartford, CT, Steubenville, OH, and Salisbury, MD, among other places. According to Echostar's FCC filings, the coverage areas for those beams also include southern Maine, nearly all of New York state, and most of the Carolinas, respectively.
I think many people, especially broadcasters, suffer from the misconception that spot beams are supposed to create from-the-sky manifestations of terrestrial stations' limited coverage areas. This is NOT true. The purpose of satellite spot beams is to allow frequency reuse, thereby increasing carriage capacity.
Limiting spot beams to individual markets would not only waste valuable spectrum in the smaller markets, it would create a fragile delivery system. What you want is a large number of significantly overlapping spots, spread across multiple satellites, and covering several markets each, so that the system can not only handle and adapt to varying market sizes, but compensate for the inevitable transponder failures that occur as satellites age.
This doesn't mean that you could not deliver free service as Ken envisioned, but it does mean that it wouldn't be as simple as beaming signals in the clear. You'd still need a conditional access system of some sort. There are various approaches you could take - e.g. user-supplied zip codes, or built-in GPS receivers - each with advantages and disadvantages.
But the bottom line is, we already have two DBS companies with a great deal of experience and expertise in this area, and any such pseudo-FTA distribution of local stations would probably be best handled by those companies.
Some of us would actually be in favor of having at least some of the area of the border counties included because how many viewers make an effort to only watch television that is broadcast from their side of the county line.
Preaching to the choir. I got DBS mainly to get out of market broadcast stations, and as it happens, the first market I bought was Salt Lake City. As far as I'm concerned, people should be able to get broadcast stations from any market technically feasible. But even if broadcasters would agree - which they would NOT, Ken's comments notwithstanding - I'm sure the NFL would have a cow over the prospect of viewers getting Sunday NFL games broadcast from South Carolina to Ohio to Maine. It ain't gonna happen.
When you talk about such technical things you are really talking about a new broadcast standard or second digital transition.
Only digital transmission over VHF-lo requires
a new standard. Certainly MPEG-4 and other more advanced compression techniques would improve spectrum efficiency, and it's not too soon to start looking at those, but transmitter colocation and band repacking would yield significant benefits even with current standards and receivers.
Part of the problem with the current plans is they make no mention of such technology but just leave OTA "twisting in the wind". It should be rather obvious that the lack of mention of such things is because the proponents of the current plans want the demise of broadcast television.
Yes and no. Baker's statement does suggest consideration of MPEG-4 and OFDM. The omission from the NPRM itself is not surprising, however, because the NPRM is intended as partial implementation of recommendation 5.8.5 of the National Broadband Plan, which contains no mention of MPEG-4, and mentions OFDM only in connection with broadband, not TV.
But if you're right about the proponents' intentions, that's all the more reason for well-argued responses to the NPRM.