how does satellite do with snow?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Robert Silge, Apr 15, 2005.

  1. Robert Silge

    Robert Silge Agent

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    We are moving to Connecticut soon and I'm researching my HD options. Dish is the winner on price, but DirecTV is an option as well, as is cable. My concern is with bad weather. How bad do things have to be to hamper the quality of the sat picture? Is snow a big deal with them?
     
  2. Bryce_H

    Bryce_H Stunt Coordinator

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    I live in Colorado Springs and haven't had a problem (even in last weekends blizzard!!)
     
  3. Heinz W

    Heinz W Second Unit

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    I have standard DirecTV, and although I have a HDTV I'm not upgrading to D* HD until DirecTV gets those new satellites up sometime this year. Supposedly there will be a LOT more HD channels then. I get pixelization interference when it rains (or snows) really hard. On a couple of occasions it's happened on clear days, I'm not sure what caused it then. Maybe a solar flare or something.
     
  4. Robert Silge

    Robert Silge Agent

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    Bryce, do you have Dish or DirecTV?
     
  5. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    I've also had rain/snow fade with DirecTV when it's really coming down. Another problem I've experienced is snow buildup on the LNBs causing loss of signal. In the 4 years I've lived in the northeast these issues have affected me about half a dozen times.
     
  6. Dick Boneske

    Dick Boneske Stunt Coordinator

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    We live in Northeast Wisconsin. We have Direct TV with the three-LNB (oval dish) with the HD package. In the past two winters, since we've had the oval dish, we've never had a problem with pixelating or dropouts.

    Previously, between 1993 and 2002 with the round Direct TV dish, dropouts occurred whenever there was HEAVY overcast or HEAVY rain or snow--about three times a year. During most of this time, we had basic cable for local channels. The frequency of outages of any kind with the satellite, however, were about half of the frequency of cable outages during these years.

    As a general suggestion, if possible, install the dish so it is serviceable from ground level. In most residences, there is a suitable location on the side of the house or on a pole that makes any kind of access to the dish much easier and safer.
     
  7. Robert Silge

    Robert Silge Agent

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    Does Dish Network offer a similar 3LNB dish? It seems to me that for what DirecTV costs it might be better to just go with digital cable. Dish Network seems far cheaper.
     
  8. Dick Boneske

    Dick Boneske Stunt Coordinator

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    Robert,

    You may have missed my reply about outages, but you need to be aware of several things. First, digital cable costs more than Direct TV in MOST areas. Dish is a little--not a lot cheaper than Direct TV. Second, most people I've spoken with have more outages with cable than satellite--either Dish or Direct TV. Remember, digital cable gets its signal from satellite also, so if weather gets really overcast, they have the same problem you or I would.

    The BEST deal for HD is terrestial--no cost, best reliability, and audio/video equal to or better than cable or satellite. If you're within 50 miles of your stations, a cheap Radio Shack antenna works just fine!!
     
  9. Heinz W

    Heinz W Second Unit

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    While this is certainly true, and OTA is currently my only HD reception, you are limited to a very few channels compared to satellite or cable. I get about 10 digital channels or so from Pittsburgh, but only one (PBS-HD) has hi-def content exclusively. Most are just 480i except for some prime-time network programs and some sports.
     
  10. Dick Boneske

    Dick Boneske Stunt Coordinator

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    The original posting was a question about the effect of snow on satellite reception. At risk of drifting further away from the subject, a comment about OTA HD. Most evening network programs are now in HD and many are very good quality. Every month, more programs show up in HD. You are right in that only the public television channel is full time HD, but the growth of HD programming on the others is great! NASCAR and the NFL alone are worth the cost and bother of over-the-air equipment.

    The above is not true of cable or satellite. Direct TV charges $10.99 per month for a package that includes only five HD channels. If you subscribe to premium movie channels, I believe you get three more HD channels, but these are only part time HD. ESPN HD is usually 480i, not widescreen. The others are always widescreen but quality varies as it always will, depending on source material. I believe Direct TV's new ads about the 1500 stations is referring to 1500 local stations in HD, which will not yield more HD programming than we have now with OTA plus the five HD channels on Direct TV.
     
  11. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    No, you only get 2 premium HD channels. HBO HD and Showtime HD. They are full time HD but you may get some upconverts on shows that never made it to HD.

    Now back to the original question. Yes, weather related signal loss is real. It's not as bad as the cable companies make you think. I lose my signal during heavy thunderstorms. About 2 minutes before it hits, I will get macro-blocking. Right in the middle of the downpour it usually comes back. I've never lost it for more than 5 minutes. Only wet snow will give you problems. The water in the atmosphere causes the signal degredation. Plus it will stick to your dish. You can get a heater for the dish but you can't do anything about wet snow in the air.

    -Robert
     
  12. TimMc

    TimMc Stunt Coordinator

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    We have DirecTV in SE PA. We'll get momentary pixellation or even brief signal loss a couple, maybe a handful of times a year - during torrential downpours. Think maxi-hurricane type downpours. Snow? Never been a problem in the years we've had D-TV. Buildup on the dish or LNB is a non-factor.

    BTW - cable (we need it for broadband) availability/uptime is actually worse for us than D-TV. Digital cable is >> expensive than DTV here, too. Dish used to have real pixellation & compression issues. We don't have Dish, don't see it often, but friends w/ Dish no longer b!tch as much so maybe those issues are solved?

    HDTV - we get all the local stations through D-TV w/ generally better signal than OTA. If you subscribe to locals w/ D-TV then you (probably) get those HD signals for your locals, too (depends on your market until all those new birds fly). Our HD reception difference is mostly due to terrain and stupid local transmitters - the D-TV HD signal doesn't vary like local reception for us.

    Good luck w/ your move!

    PS/quick edit - Verizon is pulling fiber here like crazy. They apparently plan to offer TV, etc. over that massive bandwidth. Don't know if that might be a factor in Conn., but you might want to investigate - if nothing else, a little competition does wonder for prices!
     
  13. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    First, D* is bit-shaving their HD channels so there is NO WAY to get them in better quality than OTA. OTA will be 1920x1080i or 1920x720p. D* is changing the using 1280 instead of 1920 to save transponder space. Network HDTV availability over satellite varies by location. You are eligibile if -
    1. You live in LA or NY.
    2. You live in a white area (not served by any location)
    3. Your stations are network owned and operated (my local Fox station is so that's the only one I get via satellite)
    4. Your local station grants you a waiver to get an out of market network.

    Other than one of those 4 methods, there's no other legal way to get the HD feeds via satellite.

    BTW, the appropriate abbreviation for DirecTV is D*. DTV is the abbreviation for digital television.

    -Robert
     
  14. Joe Szott

    Joe Szott Screenwriter

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    During heavy snow or really heavy rain we get pixel problems and dropouts on some stations with DTV. But that's the only time we ever have problems, it is almost never 'offline' dur to anything else.

    We had D Cable before this, and as mentioned above it would have dropouts much more and seemingly due to no ryhme or reason. Middle of clear summer day, winter evening, if the zodiac was in the house of Jupiter, total randomness.

    I would give satellite a try, it's definitely worth a taste if you've only ever done cable before.
     
  15. TimMc

    TimMc Stunt Coordinator

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    " First, D* is bit-shaving their HD channels so there is NO WAY to get them in better quality than OTA." Uh, you haven't had to deal w/ the OTA here - D-TV HD, shaved or not, beats 4 outta 5 OTA channels on a regular basis. Getting consistent, usable signal beats persistent dropouts and black screens.

    DTV HD availability is a bit more widespread that NY & LA - 'cause I sure don't live in either. Neither does grandma, & she gets her locals in HD via D-TV, too. They are already in a number of markets - they just won't be in the 1500 range w/o the addl birds. And no waiver, etc. crap - it is completely, totally legal, provided gratis by D-TV merely for getting local channels. If fact, w/ our terrain here D-TV is the only way we can now get CBS HD - CBS OTA is >90% black screen.

    Back on track to OP - weather s/b only a minor concern. Cable is often more variable in quality & availability than satellite. I'd suggest making a list of what programming is important to you and check your Conn. options carefully - incl. OTA, satellite visibility from your house, etc. You probably can't make a real informed choice until you get there...
     
  16. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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  17. Calvin S

    Calvin S Agent

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    I concur with what others have said. I have the HD triple LNB dish, and have probably only lost signal about 1 - 2 times a year. Never for snow that I can remember, only for either torrential rain or really bad thunderstorm, and the outages weren't that long. I've had no issues with pixellation except for a couple of the HD channels that are on the satellite C which I get the worst. Also, that's from an antenna on the porch of a fourth floor condo that I have limited ability to aim exactly, so most of my signals are in the 60 - 70s. If you have a house, you'd probably be able to aim better, get better signal, and maybe loose signal even less.
     
  18. Dick Boneske

    Dick Boneske Stunt Coordinator

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    In the originating posting, Robert indicated he is moving to Connecticut. Over-the-air antenna for HD will allow him to receive all networks, including Public Television which broadcasts 100% HD on their digital stations.

    All the comments about bit-shaving with satellites broadcasting local HD, pixelating, limited programming, etc. are pertinent, but people seem to lose the point that over-the-air is FREE. It is also where most HD programming is aired. Some network programs are absolutely stunning in video quality! Each month, there are more HD broadcasts on network TV. Direct TV or Dish have NOT committed to ANY more HD channels other than local digital.

    If you're going to have satellite TV, anyhow, be sure to request an HD receiver so you can plug in an antenna. Even if your subscription lapses, you can use the receiver for a set-top box to convert antenna signal in case your TV does not have a digital tuner.

    So, pay your $10.99 plus normal subscription prices for satellite HD, but don't ignore the over-the-air that is there for no cost.
     

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