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DISH Network to Launch "EchoStar VIII" Satellite Might Mean More HDTV Print E-mail
Friday, 21 June 2002
DISH Network to Launch "EchoStar VIII" Satellite – Might Mean More HDTV If Merger With DirecTV Is Approved

EchoStar Communications Corporation (Nasdaq:DISH) has just announced that its EchoStar VIII satellite is scheduled to launch from pad 23 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on Saturday, June 22.

EchoStar VIII is designed to operate in several different payload modes with a combination of national and spot beams. The EchoStar VIII satellite's primary operating mode will provide 16 high-power national transponders at approximately 250 watts RF and 25 spot beam transponders distributed among 16 beams. The unique spot-beam feature will allow a more efficient use of spectrum, enabling EchoStar to expand its DISH Network local-into-local service and increase in-orbit backup capacity.

Initially, this new satellite will offer increased local TV coverage for DISH Network clients. Later this year, if the Echostar/DirecTV merger is approved by the FCC, satellites could be reconfigured to use two of DirecTV’s birds paired with Echostar VII and VIII (along with one more new satellite) to cover nearly all of the United States’ 210 television markets with local TV coverage via satellite.

With this reconfiguration there will be more residual bandwidth on the current satellites currently in the sky which could be used for more HDTV channels. As plasma sets and lower cost HDTVs start to penetrate the market, a breakthrough in HDTV programming (like having 25 to 50 good HDTV channels 24 hours per day – available by satellite) could make HDTV more the standard than the exception. If the merger between DirecTV and Echostar is denied, the two companies will have to develop their satellite networks with redundant programming that uses up space needed for HDTV programming.

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