Welcome to the Digital Television Website


D-SAT Astra 2A was the first satellite to be used to provide digital services directly to homes in the United Kingdom. It is located 28.2 degrees east. (See Fig.4) The satellite is located somewhat higher than the series of six Astra 1 at 19.6 degrees east. This satellite and Astra 2B that follows are aimed at the United Kingdom and have 24 transponders that can broadcast 38 megabits per second each. With at least ten channels per transponder, this satellite can deliver 250 different channels, more than the six analogue satellites together. The Astra satellites are owned by SES (Societe Europeenne des Satellites), a public company in Betzdorf, Luxembourg. They reach 30% of homes in the United Kingdom.

This represents an annual increase of 730,000 since the first was launched in 1988. The market for direct to home (DTH) satellite delivery has reached 4.57 million homes, 19% of the population of the United Kingdom. Of these 97% receive their television from Astra. In the digital field, Astra is the only is in the direct to home market and in the UK it is mainly the Sky decoding boxes and dishes that make reception possible. One million of those will be sold in the first year of digital satellite television. 300,000 will become satellite and multi-channel homes for the first time. The potential of the market appears strong according to a recent survey by the company. 630,000 homes intend to buy a dish during the next year.

This coincides with Sky's forecasts for the same period. In one survey held in January 1999, 90% of those questioned were aware of digital television and 3.1 million homes were interested in digital television via satellite. The reasons for the interest were more choice (51%) and better reception (25%). Other interesting findings of the survey were that 9.1 million homes (38%) in the United Kingdom had computers. 3.4 million (14%) use on-line services and 1.7 million intend to start during the next year. SES are following developments by studying a group of 'early adopters', in a survey by Simons Priest & Associates. Some early results from the study reveal a little about the early adopters of digital television.

The reasons for buying a digital satellite receiver are different to the reasons for buying analogue satellite equipment. In the beginning, sports, films and more choice were the key but by now things like NVOD, interactivity and technical quality top the list. It was evident from the study that the choice provided by digital was important and that no-one who had experienced multi-channel viewing would be willing to return to the old regime. One innovation which is made possible through digital delivery is Wide Screen television whose introduction was associated with digital, although it is mainly analogue sets that are available in the shops at the moment. (See Wide Screen.) SES operate on European basis. At year end 1998 more than 80 million homes, 48.5% of all TV homes, watch satellite TV. 31.12 million (+8.3%) receive it directly via a satellite dish. Another 49.66 million (+5.6%) are connected to a cable network. Programmes on the ASTRA Satellite System now reach 26.51 million DTH/SMATV homes and 48.03 million cable homes - representing 92.3% of total DTH/SMATV and cable market. Major markets for ASTRA growth in DTH/DMATV are Germany and the UK as well as France and Spain - driven by the introduction of digital TV. ASTRA digital homes have an above average incidence of PC ownership and Online usage representing a prime potential for Multimedia services via satellite. In France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and UK on average 29.9% of all TV homes own a PC and 8.5% use Online services at home.

Coverage rises to 52.5% and 18% amongst digital satellite receiving homes. The latest SES Satellite Monitors report 3.58 million domestic households receiving digital satellite TV, 11.5% of all DTH/SMATV homes. This result confirms the total accumulated subscriber number released by DSTV operators for Nov. 1998, ie 3.69 million. By 31 December this figure had risen to 4.2 million.