DTH (Direct to Home) Television Guide

What is DTH?

DTH stands for Direct-To-Home television. DTH is defined as the reception of satellite programmes with a personal dish in an individual home.
DTH does away with the need for the local cable operator and puts the broadcaster directly in touch with the consumer. Only cable operators can receive satellite programmes and they then distribute them to individual homes.

How does DTH work?

A DTH network consists of a broadcasting centre, satellites, encoders, multiplexers, modulators and DTH receivers.
A DTH service provider has to lease Ku-band transponders from the satellite. The encoder converts the audio, video and data signals into the digital format and the multiplexer mixes these signals. At the user end, there will be a small dish antenna and set-top boxes to decode and view numerous channels. On the user’s end, receiving dishes can be as small as 45 cm in diametre.
DTH is an encrypted transmission that travels to the consumer directly through a satellite. DTH transmission is received directly by the consumer at his end through the small dish antenna. A set-top box, unlike the regular cable connection, decodes the encrypted transmission

How does DTH really differ from cable TV?

The way DTH reaches a consumer’s home is different from the way cable TV does. In DTH, TV channels would be transmitted from the satellite to a small dish antenna mounted on the window or rooftop of the subscriber’s home. So the broadcaster directly connects to the user. The middlemen like local cable operators are not there in the picture.
DTH can also reach the remotest of areas since it does away with the intermediate step of a cable operator and the wires (cables) that come from the cable operator to your house. As we explained above, in DTH signals directly come from the satellite to your DTH dish.
Also, with DTH, a user can scan nearly 700 channels!

Is DTH be cheaper than cable or more expensive?

DTH is more expensive than cable as it exists today.
A set-top box is a must for DTH. Earlier, when CAS made set-top box mandatory for households, the costs between DTH and cable would not have been too wide.
But CAS on the backburner now — which means no set-top box (a must for DTH), the price gap between DTH and cable will be wide.


MPEG-2 vs MPEG-4

Old players use MPEG-2 technology while new players are using MPEG-4 technology which enables players to broadcast high quality video content along with more channels in the same bandwidth. MPEG4 offers a better compression/quality ratio for transmitted videos than MPEG2


DVB-S is the original Digital Video Broadcasting forward error coding and modulation standard for satellite television.
Digital Video Broadcasting – Satellite – Second Generation (DVB-S2) is an enhanced specification to replace the DVB-S standard, this development of DVB-S2 coincided with the introduction of HDTV and H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC) video codecs.
The DVD-S2 system allows transmission of one or more MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 audio and video streams whereas DVD-S was designed for MPEG-2.

Airtel Digital, Tata Sky D2H and Videocon D2H support DVB-S2 technology. The channel publish content in High Definition(HD) or Standard Definition – HD content might not be captured by DTH if they do not support DVB-S2.

With DVD-S2, content can be transported using the same bandwidth, for the same cost. Or the same content can be transmitted using 30% less bandwidth, for cost savings of 30%. Also the transmission of high quality vidoes is possible.

You should ensure that the DTH provider supports this.

IPTV and recording

IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is TV service which is delivered using IP (Internet Protocol) technology, which is the same technology used in Internet Services. In this service the TV channels are encoded in IP format and delivered to TV using a Set Top Box. The IP TV Service also includes Video on Demand Services which is is similar to watching Video CD’s / DVD’s using a VCD / DVD player. Movies, Instructional Videos and other content shall be available to customers in the IP TV Services.
If you are unable to watch a daily soap for a week because you are busy, you see all five episodes back-to-back on the weekend with the recordings available.
All this media content will be provided through telephone lines/ optic fiber cables which have already been laid out to provide everybody with telephones, broadband etc. This line/ cable which is already present in most houses is connected to a device (digital set top box) which is then connected to your television. This device performs a few functions – protects the IP (intellectual property) of the content owners, decodes the scrambled data coming in and converts it to a format suitable for your tv. It also provides a navigation system and an input device (remote control, wireless keyboard etc.) so that you can operate it.

Now you can communicate over telephone, surf the internet and fulfill all your multimedia requirements via a single line/ cable which has been split to provide three separate services. This is also known as ‘convergence’ or ‘triple play’

All this requires enormous amounts of bandwidth. IPTV is currently available in India mainly through BSNL and MTNL. These companies are providing is a cross between cable and DTH.

Pause and Record

Tata Sky Plus gives facility of pausing, rewinding and recording features in their service. This costs more than their regular DTH service for setup box and installation.

Movies on Demand

Movies are available on what is called Video-On-Demand (VOD), some new movie releases can be bought and watched at the comfort of your home.

Interactive TV

Interactive TV provides additional features and services like Tutions, Shopping, Stories for you child, cooking shows, astrology, news and more. You should check these out for anything that might be useful.

Multilingual User Interface

Most DTH offer user interfaces in multiple languages which enables anyone non-conversant in English also to easily browse and use the services.

Multilingual User Interface

DTH services provide multiple users to select and store channels of their interest for ease in viewing and shuffling channels.

Channel Lock, Parental Lock, Channel Hide

There are features by which you can lock or hide the channels that you do not want. You can also use parental locks to prevent children from viewing unwanted channels.

Services Centres

This is a very important factor specially if you do not want to go through any pain during the installation or any issue process. The service should be reasonable and you should check with neighbours or acquaitainces for a feedback of the service provider.

Is DTH superior to cable TV?

Yes. DTH offers better quality picture than cable TV. This is because cable TV in India is analog. Despite digital transmission and reception, the cable transmission is still analog. DTH offers stereophonic sound effects. It can also reach remote areas where terrestrial transmission and cable TV have failed to penetrate. Apart from enhanced picture quality, DTH has also allows for interactive TV services such as movie-on-demand, Internet access, video conferencing and e-mail.

Also in cable TV you cannot choose a package that you want to watch. The DTH service enables you to pick and choose the channels you want to watch and pay for.

Does one need to put two dish antennae and pay double subscription per month if one has two TVs?

For multiple connections in the same premises, one can use the same connection. However, every television set will need to have an individual STB.
Also, DTH is a national service and the STBs enable a viewer to change service providers without changing the STB, even if one moves from one city to another.

Can a CAS set-top box be used for DTH?

No, these are different set-top boxes.

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