- 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.