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12.06.2004
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
VOOM satellite plans to increase channel capacity


VOOM will expand HD capacity using 16 transponders on the Rainbow 2 SES Americom AMC-6 satellite.

Rainbow Media Enterprises' VOOM satellite service will expand in March 2005 from its current 39 high-definition channels to more than 70 high-definition channels covering the United States.

The service got off to a rocky start with technological problems and widespread rumors that the high-definition service was in trouble due to fewer than expected subscribers. None of those troubles were reflected in its optimistic announcement about the future.

The company plans to also simultaneously add nearly 200 standard-definition channels. To facilitate the expansion, the VOOM service will use 16 transponders on the SES Americom AMC-6 satellite, which VOOM refers to as “Rainbow 2,” previously leased from SES AMERICOM.

Programs transmitted by Rainbow 1 and Rainbow 2 will use an MPEG-4 encoding system from Harmonic. VOOM customers have been provided with set-top boxes capable of receiving the MPEG-4.

Rainbow Media Enterprises has selected Lockheed Martin to build five geostationary telecommunications satellites. The five new satellites, designated Rainbow Ka-1 through Rainbow Ka-5, will provide direct broadcast services across the United States. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The spacecraft payloads will feature multiple Ka-band spot beams as well as half-CONUS beams. Rainbow Ka-1 through Rainbow Ka-5 will be based on Lockheed Martin’s A2100AX satellite, with a predicted service life of 15 years.

These high power satellites, the first of which will be completed and launched in approximately 34 months, will enable VOOM to increase its channel capacity to more than 5000 high-definition channels when operating in spot beam mode. This will enable VOOM to have spot beams covering the entire United States.

With these satellites, VOOM could operate with virtually no capacity constraints. These satellites would operate at the company’s orbital locations at 62W, 71W, 77W, 119W and 129W.

For more information, visit www.voom.com.

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