A handy guide to satellite capacity of Indian DTH operators in 2020

Satellites in Earth Orbit
Highlights
  • Tata Sky leads the single brand satellite capacity with 24 transponders
  • Dish TV leads the multi-brand capacity with 30 transponders (DishTV+d2h)

A Geostationary communication satellite is the beating heart of a DTH system and the transponder capacity is its very lifeforce. Just like the spectrum holding capacity determines the efficiency of a telecom operator, the transponder capacity determines the efficiency of a DTH operator. A typical Ku band transponder in the DVB-S2 system can carry as many as 20 HD or 40 SD channels with MPEG-4 compression standard.

Currently, there is 1 state-owned and 4 private DTH operators (Dish TV operates under 2 brands) providing service in India. The department of space (DOS) permits DTH operators to only use satellites commissioned by Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) or in case there isn’t sufficient capacity on ISRO satellites then they are permitted to use capacity leased by ISRO from foreign satellites. 

Here we will enlist the satellites used and the transponder capacity available to all DTH operators along with their current TV channel count. This is intended to help potential subscribers get a birds-eye view and make an informed choice while picking a DTH service provider. Dish TV and d2h have been listed separately since they operate as individual brands and have separate satellites as well.

Tata Sky:

Tata Sky has a total of 24 Ku band transponders from 2 satellites. 12 transponders from GSAT-10 located at 83° East, owned by ISRO launched in 2012 with a lifespan of 12 years and 12 transponders from GSAT-30 co-located at 83° East, owned by ISRO launched in 2020 with a lifespan of 15 years. Tata Sky currently offers 715 channels of which 504 are SD, 91 are HD and 118 are service channels while 2 channels are specific to certain STB models.

Satellite
Name
Transponder
Sr. No.
Frequency
(MHz)
Polarization
(V/H)
Symbol Rate
(Ksps)
GSAT-10110970V32720
211010V32720
311050V32720
411090V32720
511130V32720
611170V32720
711470V32720
811510V32720
911550V32720
1011590V32720
1111630V32720
1211670V32720
GSAT-301310970H32720
1411010H32720
1511050H32720
1611090H32720
1711130H32720
1811170H32720
1911470H32720
2011510H32720
2111550H32720
2211590H32720
2311630H32720
2411670H32720
For Polarization V=Vertical H=Horizontal

Airtel Digital TV:

Airtel Digital TV has a total of 19 Ku band transponders from 2 satellites. 12 transponders from SES-7 located at 108.2° East, owned by SES launched in 2009 with a lifespan of 15 years and 7 transponders from SES-9 co-located at 108.2° East, owned by SES launched in 2016 with a lifespan of 15 years. Airtel Digital TV currently offers 627 channels of which 488 are SD, 86 are HD and 53 are service channels.

Satellite
Name
Transponder
Sr. No.
Frequency
(MHz)
Polarization
(V/H)
Symbol Rate
(Ksps)
SES-7111480V28800
211483H29000
311520V30000
411520H32700
511560V32700
611560H32700
711600V32700
811600H32700
911640V30000
1011640H32700
1111680V32700
1211680H32700
SES-91312281V43700
1412341V43700
1512419V19000
1612591V43700
1712651V43700
1812711V43700
1912711H44990
For Polarization V=Vertical H=Horizontal

Dish TV:

Dish TV has a total of 17 Ku band transponders from 2 satellites. 11 transponders from SES-8 located at 95° East, owned by SES launched in 2013 with a lifespan of 15 years and 6 transponders from GSAT-15 located at 93.5° East, owned by ISRO launched in 2015 with a lifespan of 12 years. Dish TV currently offers 453 TV channels of which 365 are SD, 65 are HD and 23 are service channels.

Satellite
Name
Transponder
Sr. No.
Frequency
(MHz)
Polarization
(V/H)
Symbol Rate
(Ksps)
SES-8112403H43000
212464H43000
312534V43200
412595V40700
512595H43200
612647V32700
712647H30000
812688V27500
912688H32000
1012729V32700
1112729H32000
GSAT-151211050V29500
1311130V29500
1411460H12500
1511480H14500
1611510H29500
1711590H29500
For Polarization V=Vertical H=Horizontal

d2h:

d2h has a total of 13 transponders from ST-2 satellite located at 88° East, owned by SingTel launched in 2011 with a lifespan of 15 years. d2h currently offers 515 TV channels of which 425 are SD, 64 are HD and 26 are service channels.

Satellite
Name
Transponder
Sr. No.
Frequency
(MHz)
Polarization
(V/H)
Symbol Rate
(Ksps)
ST-2111050V30000
211050H30000
311164V44995
411164H44995
511483V44995
611483H44995
711546V44995
811546H44995
911609V43978
1011609H44995
1111672V44995
1211672H44995
1311698V01600
For Polarization V=Vertical H=Horizontal

Sun Direct:

Sun Direct has a total of 13 transponders from 3 satellites. 5 transponders from MEASAT-3 located at 91.5° East, owned by MEA Satellite systems launched in 2006 with a lifespan of 15 years, 4 transponders from MEASAT-3B co-located at 91.5° East, owned by MEA Satellite systems launched in 2014 with a lifespan of 15 years and 4 transponders from GSAT-15 located at 93.5° East, owned by ISRO launched in 2015 with a lifespan of 12 years. Sun Direct currently offers 448 TV channels of which 363 are SD, 75 are HD and 10 are service channels.

Satellite
Name
Transponder
Sr. No.
Frequency
(MHz)
Polarization
(V/H)
Symbol Rate
(Ksps)
MEASAT-3112316H30000
212436H32000
312563H32000
412603H32000
512643H32000
MEASAT-3B612276H34000
712356H34000
812396H32000
912476H32000
GSAT-151010970V32000
1111010V32000
1211630H32000
1311670H32000
For Polarization V=Vertical H=Horizontal

DD Free Dish:

DD Free Dish has a total of 6 transponders from GSAT-15 satellite located at 93.5° East, owned by ISRO launched in 2015 with a lifespan of 12 years. DD currently offers 108 unencrypted free channels of which 106 are SD and 2 are HD. Additionally DD free dish users also get access to 32 Swayam Prabha channels and 16 Vande Gujarat channels from 3 additional transponders on GSAT-15 leased by the government, taking the grand total to 156.

Satellite
Name
Transponder
Sr. No.
Frequency
(MHz)
Polarization
(V/H)
Symbol Rate
(Ksps)
GSAT-15111090V29500
211170V29500
311470V29500
411510V29500
511550V29500
611630V30000
For Polarization V=Vertical H=Horizontal

Note: Dish TV and Sun Direct subscribers also get access to 156 unencrypted free channels (from DD free dish, Swayam Prabha and Vande Gujarat) since they both share capacity on GSAT-15. In addition to the available transponder capacity, the channel offering by a DTH operator also depends on external variables like the renewal of a contractual agreement with the various Broadcasters.

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sarthak barath
sarthak barath
1 month ago

Very , informative article
Thanks for such in-depth research
Btw ,are DTH AND CABLE TV CHARGES IN INDIA LOWEST AMONG WORLD????!!!!!

Khetan Naik
Khetan Naik
3 months ago

None of DTH service providers have any 4K channels?Did not find anything mentioned for that…

Basil Kannagi Arasu
Reply to  Khetan Naik
3 months ago

There is no 4K content currently for the DTH operators to show it. It will probably take another decade before 4K becomes the normal in India.

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