MUMBAI: Doordarshan’s free direct-to-home (DTH) service Freedish is all set to migrate to the recently launched GSAT 15 satellite as INSAT 4B is about to expire, a senior DD official has said.
GSAT 15, which was launched on 11 November, will replace INSAT 3A and 4B, both of which are co-located at 93.5°E longitude. It will cater to DTH operators, VSAT operators who provide broadband services, and digital satellite news gathering for TV news channels.
Currently, Freedish is available in Ku-band on INSAT 4B at 93.5°E, having MPEG-2 DVB-S and four streams of channels with downlink frequencies of 10990, 11070, 11150 and 11570 MHz.
Launched in March 2007, INSAT 4B was reduced to half its functions in 2010 after one of its power-generating solar panels developed a snag.
INSAT 3A has completed its 12-year life, having been launched in April 2003.
“The date for migrating DD Freedish from INSAT 4B to GSAT15 has not yet been decided. A wide publicity will be done in advance before migrating,” Doordarshan DDG (Comm. & Sales/ IR & IMD/ DCD) CK Jain said.
According to Jain, the new satellite parameters will work on all set-top boxes (STBs), but frequencies will change and will require feeding new parameters and rescanning STBs.
GSAT-15 is a high-power satellite being inducted into the INSAT/GSAT system. Weighing 3,164 kg at lift-off, it carries 24 communication transponders in Ku-band as well as a GPS-aided GEO augmented navigation (GAGAN) payload operating in L1 and L5 bands.
It is the third satellite to carry GAGAN payload after GAST-8 and GSAT-10, which are already providing navigation services from orbit. GSAT-15 carries a Ku-band beacon as well to help in accurately pointing ground antennas towards the satellite.
Comparatively, INSAT-3A is a multipurpose satellite for providing telecommunications, television broadcasting, meteorological, and search and rescue services. It carries 24 transponders with 12 operating in the normal C-band frequency, six in extended C-band and six in Ku-band. INSAT-3A also carries a Ku-band beacon.
On the other hand, INSAT 4B has 12 Ku- and 12 C-band high-power transponders. The Ku-band transponders covered the Indian mainland using 140W radioactively cooled TWTAs, while the C-band transponders with extended coverage covered southeast and northwest region apart from Indian main land using 63 W TWTAs.
Launched in December 2004, Freedish has capacity of 64 standard-definition channels along with 24 radio channels. DTH signals can be received through a small-sized dish receiver system for which no monthly subscription fee is payable by the viewers.
Of late, the DTH platform has become a key distribution outlet for broadcasters, particularly the news channels after Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) started reporting all-India data including rural.
With an estimated 18–20 million customers, Freedish has a huge reach in media-dark areas and is the only source of entertainment for rural folks. Recently, it had increase the reserve price for DTH slots to Rs 4.3 crore (Rs 43 million) from Rs 3.7 crore (Rs 37 million).