DIRECTV to expand HDTV with new satellites

DIRECTV plans to launch four new satellites to expand its high-definition television services. The expansion is valued at more than $1 billion.

The new satellites will provide a massive expansion in local and national HD channels, as well as capacity for new interactive and enhanced services and SD programming.

The first two satellites, Spaceway 1 and Spaceway 2, will launch in 2005 and will offer programming to consumers by the middle of next year. These satellites will have the capacity for more than 500 local HD channels. With these satellites, DIRECTV will be able to bring local HD programming to most of the United States, as well as to continue to expand SD local offerings and other enhancements.

The next two satellites, DIRECTV 10 and DIRECTV 11, will launch in early 2007. These satellites will have the capacity for more than 1000 additional local HD channels, more than 150 national HD channels and other new programming offerings. These satellites will provide DIRECTV the capability to bring local and national HD programming and other advanced services to every U.S. household. Consumers will be able to receive all of these services, as well as existing DIRECTV programming, with a single small satellite dish.

DIRECTV 10 and 11, to be built by Boeing, will be among the largest and most powerful Ka-band satellites ever launched. The satellites will deliver national HD programming and will be capable of supporting spot beams carrying local HD broadcast channels in all 50 states. Boeing will also build a third satellite that will serve as a ground spare.

The Spaceway 1 and 2 satellites, also being built by Boeing, are approaching completion and were recently converted to be able to offer both video and a broadband Internet service. Boeing is also constructing a third Spaceway satellite.

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