direct broadcast satellite (DBS)

Direct broadcast satellite (DBS) refers to satellite television (TV) systems in which the subscribers, or end users, receive signals directly from geostationary satellites. Signals are broadcast in digital format at microwave frequencies. DBS is the descendant of direct-to-home (DTH) satellite services.

A DBS subscriber installation consists of a dish antenna two to three feet (60 to 90 centimeters) in diameter, a conventional TV set, a signal converter placed next to the TV set, and a length of coaxial cable between the dish and the converter. The dish intercepts microwave signals directly from the satellite. The converter produces output that can be viewed on the TV receiver.

A number of companies provide DBS and DTH service throughout the world. In the United States, DirecTV and EchoStar are the main vendors. Both of these corporations also provide satellite Internet service, which can be purchased for a monthly fee in addition to, or instead of, DBS TV service. In Canada, StarChoice and ExpressVu provide digital satellite TV for home users. Satellite-based TV and Internet services are popular in rural areas where conventional cable service is not available. DBS TV is also favored by urban and suburban subscribers who are not satisfied with the quality or quantity of TV programming available on conventional cable.

This was last updated in September 2005

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