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Orbital Locations and Types of Dishes

Dish Network has the rights to use nine orbital locations, five are licensed for DBS, two are licensed for FSS and one is licensed for both DBS and FSS. DBS uses the 12.25-12.75 GHz part of the Ku band with circular (right and left) polarization, divided into 32 transponders 32 MHz wide with power levels of up to 220 watts per transponder. DBS licenses are only granted for orbital locations approximately 9° apart from other DBS locations. DBS signals can be received by a small 45cm or larger dish.

FSS uses the 11.7-12.2 GHz part of the Ku band, divided into 24 transponders 40 MHz wide and linear (horizontal and vertical) polarization with power levels up to 70 watts per transponder. FSS licenses are granted for orbital locations every 2°. Because of the lower power level, FSS requires a 75cm or larger dish.

Dish Network's first location was 119°W, which they've had since late 1995. Echostar currently has a license for 21 transponders from 12.25-12.5GHz, with DirecTV currently owning the license for the other 11 from 12.5-12.75GHz. Since Dish runs its transponders at 20MS/s with QPSK modulation, this gives them about 38Mb/S per transponder or 798Mb/S at that orbital. Originally home to Echostar I and II in 1996, only 16 transponders (all odd-numbered RHCP) were used at the time, allowing a simple splitter to be used to distribute signals. It now hosts Echostar XIV which carries the majority of Dish Network's MPEG-2 SD programming.

The 110°W spot was added in 1999. It was originally home to Echostar IV, but it had issues; only about 7 transponders actually worked, so another satellite, Echostar V was launched later that year and Echostar IV was moved to 119°. The new Echostar V satellite featured a full 32 Ku band DBS transponders with 1,200Mb/S, for a total system bandwidth of 2Gb/s. There are currently two satellites at 110°: Echostar XI carries mostly shopping channels, religious programming, the less popular pay channels, as well as a few HD channels; Echostar X at 110° has nothing but spot beams and carries SD local channels for most markets. For new installations that don't require HD, the standard antenna is a Dish 500 for 110° and 119° (As of 2014, anyway). For new installations with HD programming, and/or SD local channels for certain smaller markets a Dish 1000 with three LNBs for 110°/119°/129° is commonly used.
In 2005 or so the 129° orbital location was added, and Echostar V was moved there, then sold to a Canadian company and renamed Ciel I. The current Ciel II satellite at 129° carries most of the HD channels with a few exceptions, which are on 110° and 119°. A Dish 1000 for 110°/119°/129° is also used when HD and SD receivers are mixed.

Echostar has owned a license for 61.5°W since 1995 when Echostar bought Direct Broadcast Satellite Corporation. It's been broadcasting from 61.5° since 1997 with the launch of Echostar III which was ordered as DBSC 1. Echostar licensed the frequencies for the odd-numbered transponders to Cablevision in 2003 for the short-lived Voom HD service. In 2005 Echostar acquired Voom along with the Rainbow I satellite then parked at 61.5°W. A new satellite, Echostar XVI replaced it in 2012. The new Echostar XVI has a boatload of spot beams capable of supplying HD local channels for nearly every market. It currently carries almost all of the SD pay channels in MPEG-4/8PSK.
The Nimiq 5 satellite at 72.7°W is leased from the Canadian Telesat Company and carries all of the HD channels and a few SD channels in MPEG-4/8PSK on its 32 transponders. I don't remember exactly when they started using 72.7, but I think it was around 2008. Dish Network owns a DBS license for the 77° orbital location, which was formerly used  to deliver HD programming to 1K4 dishes along with 61.5° and 72°. Echostar 1 (formerly at 119° and 148°) is still orbiting (2013) at 77° but is not currently active. For new installations with nothing but HD (ViP or XiP) receivers, an "eastern arc" Dish 1000.2 with two LNBs for 61.5° and 72° is commonly used. These two orbital locations are not compatible with SD receivers and early (non-ViP) HD receivers.

The 107° orbital location is home to Echostar 17, which is neither used for DBS or FSS, but was part of Dish Network's acquisition of Hughes Net and is used for high speed satellite internet for their Dish Net service and Hughes Net Gen 4.

Two orbital locations are no longer in use, 148° and 105°. The former was part of a plan to distribute local and other channels to the west coast, since its far western orbital location put it out of range of a lot of the continental US (its elevation from LA would be 40°, from Virginia it would be about 8°). The 105° spot was used with Type II Super Dishes to receive FSS transmissions from AMC2 starting around 2003 or so, and later from AMC15. The 40MHz wide transponders on 105° and 121° allowed for a symbol rate of 26MS/s with a data rate of 50Mb/s per transponder or approximately 1.2Gb/s per satellite. My memory is somewhat hazy this far back, but I think 105° was used for HD, with the first generation of HD receivers (811, 921, etc), and 121° was used for international channels for a while. They both may have been used for local channels for some markets at some point.

By 2007 or so, after the widespread adoption of the Dish 1000, 121° and 105° were both seeing very little traffic. There was an info card at 105°, but I think even that's gone, and as of 2014, 121° carries very little, mostly feeds and business TV, its international programming was moved to Anik F3 at 119°. Anik F3 is an FSS satellite, but unlike the other two, uses circular polarization. Older Super Dishes can be converted to work with Anik with the addition of a dielectric plate inside the feedhorn, or for the fiberglass Super Dishes, by rotating the polarization collar.


Dish 300

A 46cm dish that picks up a single orbital location. These were used with a single LNBF for 119° for the first Dish Network installations before the acquisition of the 110° orbital location, and for 61.5° for special installations, including a service called Sky Angel. With only one Dish 300, a standard generic multiswitch can be used to distribute the satellite signal when using legacy LNBFs. When using Dish Pro LNBFs, the satellite signal can be distributed using only a satellite grade splitter. Dish 300s are no longer used as a primary dish for new installations, but can be used as a "wing dish" where all of the necessary orbital locations aren't visible from any single spot. The original Dish 300 was identifiable by a Dish logo and nothing else on the reflector and a solid metal arm tube. The Dish 300s used today as wing dishes are actually Dish 500s modified with an "I" bracket for one LNBF.

Dish 500

A 50cm dish that picks up two orbital locations, 110° and 119°. These have been the most common dishes for new installs of SD-only receivers since 1999 or so. Several different LNBFs have been made for the Dish 500. A lot of the earliest 500 dishes used a pair of dual output legacy LNBFs going into a pair of SW21 switches for two receivers. All Twin LNBs, which are available in legacy, Dish Pro and Dish Pro Plus will fit the 500. It's also possible to use two DP dual LNBFs and run their output into a switch. New Dish 500s are invariably installed with a DPP Twin.

Super Dish

Super Dish was originally designed to add HD programming via a third FSS satellite. The reflector is elliptical, 75cm wide, with a Super Dish logo. There are two different types of Super Dishes. Both receive DBS signals from 110° and 119°. A type I Super Dish receives the FSS satellite at 105°W. Since Dish no longer maintains a satellite at 105° these will essentially function as a large Dish 500. It employed one DP Dual LNBF for 119° and a special feedhorn for 110° and 105° that used bolt-on LNBs, one DBS and one FSS, both with a standard 20mm flange fitting. The one on the right is shown without its LNBs, and ahows the curved waveguides and bracket for a DP Dual.

A type II Super Dish receives Echostar  9 at 121°W. 110° is received by a DP Dual, 119° is also received by a DP dual, but without an outer plastic shell and hidden inside a large plastic enclosure which also houses the FSS LNB. The FSS side is a bandstacked FSS LNB which is bolted a round feedhorn via a standard 20mm flange fitting. A type II came in two different varieties, one with a pressed steel reflector and relatively rare one with a fiberglass reflector. The fiberglass type II Super Dish used one DP Dual for 110°, a bandstacked FSS LNB bolted to an elliptical feedhorn with a depolarizing coupler for 121° and a small conical feedhorn with DBS LNB olted on via standard 20mm flange. The steel type I and type II Super Dishes were mostly identical except for the LNB bracket.

The last time I checked the only channels on 121° were foreign language channels. When Dish Network moved their HD programming to 129° they released a repoint kit for the steel Super Dish that consisted of a new arm and a "W" bracket to hold three DP or legacy Dual LNBFs. Most Super Dishes still in use today have been repointed. As far as I know the Super Dish is no longer produced or used in new installations.

Dish 1000

The original Dish 1000 was a 56cm elliptical dish with a Dish 1000 logo and a "W" shaped bracket capable of holding one Twin LNBF for 110° and 119° and a DP Dual for 129, or three DP or legacy Duals. The most common installation was with a DPP Twin with the DP Dual connected to its "LNB IN" port. This setup only provides two outputs for a maximum of four rooms with dual tuner receivers or 2 rooms with single tuner receivers, so larger installations required an external switch like the DPP44. The Dish 1000 is no longer produced.

Dish 1000.2

The Dish 1000.2 (or 1K2 for short) is currently the most common for new installations. It's slightly larger than the original at 60cm and is not compatible with the Twin LNBF. The 1K2 has three options for LNBs. The western arc 1K2 LNB is a triple LNB for 110°/119°/129° with an integrated DPP switch and one external LNB input port. It can deliver four satellites (with a wing dish) to up to six rooms with dual tuner receivers or three rooms with single tuner receivers. It is mainly used in the western half of the country, or where SD and HD receivers are connected to the same dish, and/or for SD local channels in certain smaller markets where the local channels aren't carried on 110.
  A "W" bracket is available for the Dish 1K2 which allows it to be used with three DP or legacy Dual LNBFs and an external switch. With DP dual LNBFs and DPP44 switches, a single Dish 1K2 can provide service for up to 48 rooms with dual tuner receivers or 24 rooms with single tuner receivers.
The third and newest option is the eastern arc twin. It contains two LNBs for 61.5° and 72° and an integrated Dish Pro Plus switch with three outputs for up to six rooms with dual tuner receivers or three rooms with single tuner receivers. Like other integrated LNBFs, it's also compatible with switches like the DPP44 for larger installations. The eastern arc does not have an input for an external LNB. The western arc, eastern arc, and "W" bracket use the same reflector and backing structure.

Dish 1000.4

The Dish 1000.4 or 1K4 was intended to be an upgrade to the 1K2. It's slightly larger at 64cm and includes an adjustment screw for horizontal fine tuning and an adjustment cam for side-to-side fine tuning. There are two LNB options for the 1K4. The western arc 1K4 LNB receives 110°/119°/129° and looks like the 1K2WA, but the LNBFs are farther apart, so they're not interchangeable with one another. The 1K4WA has an integrated DPP switch with an external LNB input port. The eastern arc LNBF for the 1K4 includes three LNBs for 61.5°/72°/77° and an integrated DPP switch with three outputs and an external LNB input port. Dish Network no longer maintains a satellite at 77°, so these essentially pick up only 61.5° and 72°. The Dish 1K4 was intended to replace the 1K2, but with the introduction of the 1K2 eastern arc LNBF, they've decided to stop producing the 1K4 and its LNBFs since it's more expensive.

Dish 500+/1000+

The Dish 1000+ picks up the same satellites as the Dish 1000, 110°/119°/129°, but adds the FSS satellite at 119°. The 500+ is the same dish, but without the bracket and LNBF for 129°. It was originally used for local channels in some markets, but its now used exclusively for multilingual programming. On older models 110° and 129° were picked up using DP dual LNBFs, while both the DBS (Echostar 14) and FSS (Anik F3) satellites at 119° were picked up by a dual band LNB with separate outputs for the FSS and DBS signals. The three (for the 500+) or four (for the 1000+) cables were then routed into a DPP44 switch. This is still occasionally done since Dish has a backstock of reconditioned dual band LNBFs. The new + dishes use an integrated twin LNBF, which resembles the eastern arc twin for the 1K2, only larger. One feedhorn picks up the FSS and DBS satellites at 119 and the other picks up 110. It's integrated with a DPP switch with three outputs and one external LNB input for 129°.

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