What Is Ku Band Satellite TV?
Probably the first thing you’ll want to know about Ku band satellite TV is what exactly it is. So, for the uninitiated, here’s InternetLion.com’s simplest explanation: Ku band satellite TV is a satellite TV-reception system that relies on a range of microwave frequencies below the “K-band.” Essentially, you see, the electromagnetic spectrum is the range of all possible electromagnetic radiation emitted or absorbed by an object.
Down near the bottom of the spectrum are microwaves, which have the widest wavelengths after radio waves. And microwaves, in turn, can be divided up into different frequencies—meaning that people can differentiate them according to the amount of time that lapses between their waves’ crests hitting an object and their proceeding troughs hitting the same object.
According to the NATO standard, the K-band includes all microwaves that fall between the 20 and 40 GHz frequency ranges. Such microwaves’ wavelengths are between 7,500 and 15,000 nanometers. And microwaves that fall below this range are known as “Ku band waves,” a term that derives from the German “Kurtz-unten,” or “below K.”
The Ku band microwave range is primarily used for transmitting TV signals from geosynchronous satellites to Ku band dish antennae, like those from DISH Network®. Importantly, Ku band satellite TV is not the only kind of satellite TV as many transmission systems rely on C-band signals. The first C-band satellite TV systems came into being in the 1970s and are still widely used today alongside Ku band systems, which appeared in the 1980s.
Naturally, the two types of satellite TV differ in the periods of the microwaves they use. Whereas Ku band satellite TV signals have a period between 20 and 40 GHz, C-band signals have a period between 500 and 1000 MHz. In layman’s terms, this means that C-band microwaves have far greater distances between their peaks and troughs than Ku band signals and are therefore weaker.
C Band vs. Ku Band Dish Antennae
With such wavelength differences between C-band and Ku band signals, it’s only natural both C-band and Ku band dish antennae and C-band and Ku band satellite receivers would differ. Because C-band signals are much weaker than Ku band signals C-band dish antennae must be must larger than Ku band dish antennae. These C-band dish antennae, which were popular with hobbyists in the 1970s and ‘80s came to be known as “BUDs,” or “Big Ugly Dishes,” because many of them had diameters in excess of 10 feet, making them major eyesores.
Ku band dish antennae, in contrast, are extremely small, with typical units measuring no more than 20 to 30 inches in diameter. The reason for Ku band satellite antennae being so small is of course that Ku band signals are so much more powerful. And, as a result of Ku band satellite dishes’ being smaller than C-band satellite dishes, Ku band TV companies could produce more Ku band satellite antennae at comparatively lower cost. But along with Ku band’s benefits also came a few drawbacks.
The signals Ku band satellite antennae receive, you see, can be disrupted during heavy precipitation. Plus, Ku band satellite dishes’ small size means they have to be more precisely aimed at satellites than C-band antennae. All this on top of the fact that Ku band satellites require more energy to transmit their signals has pretty much assured that Ku band transmission ranges would be dominated by subscription services, like DISH Network, while cheaper-to-operate C-band ranges would be used by the free-to-air and publically funded services.
Ku Band Satellite Receivers
Ku band satellite receivers are made specifically to interact with Ku band satellite dishes as satellite receivers are made to demodulate and decrypt signals in specific ranges. C-band receivers are specifically made to demodulate the 70 MHz signals they receive over coaxial cable from the antennae they’re connected to. Likewise, Ku band receivers must demodulate signals ranging from 950 to 2150 MHz as they receive these signals over cables connecting them to their corresponding dish antennae.
But probably the most noticeable differences between C-Band and Ku band compatible receivers is that the Ku band variety typically offer many more features. Often, for instance, receivers not only convert Ku band signals received from their dish antennae into signals the TVs they’re connected to can display, but they also function as DVRs and home network hubs. One such receiver, DISH Network®’s ViP922, allows users to rewind, pause and fast-forward live TV while also giving users the ability to watch their programming on their laptops and smart phones. So, DISH Network subscribers receive perks like receivers that will let you watch TV in Russia on you iPhone, whereas with a C-band system you would have to wait till your vacation’s over to watch your favorite shows.
Such features are not typically integrated into C-band receivers, which only serve the function of demodulating microwaves received from satellite dishes. Consequently, the total entertainment and convenience value of Ku band systems is far greater.
The DISH Network Difference
As proof of this, take, for instance, the DISH Network deals featured on InternetLion.com, which use a Ku band system to deliver their programming. These packages give subscribers access to hundreds of channels for far less than those customers would spend setting up C-band systems, for which equipment usually has to be paid for as a personal investment. As a DISH Network customer, however, you have no equipment to buy - ever. And, as a new DISH Network customer, you can receive your basic equipment and professional installation (the easy way to connect to TV) and even up to 3 HD receivers (a $6/mo. service fee applies) for Free, included as part of your package, with 24-Mo. Agreement.
DISH Network offers award-winning technology, the highest quality picture in the business and the best value in TV entertainment with the lowest all-digital price nationwide…every day! Click here to learn more about switching to DISH Network today.
Disclaimer: Please note that this article was written when the satellite TV provider DISH was branded as DISH Network. As of 2/1/2012 DISH Network has changed their branding name to DISH. Article post date: 02/15/2011.