Coming Soon: 500 Channels of Satellite TV

Five hundred channels of television will soon be available to EchoStar's DISH Network subscribers. On July 19, EchoStar chairman Charlie Ergen demonstrated DISH 500, a pizza-sized dish antenna capable of receiving signals from satellites in two locations. The demo took place at the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association's national exposition in Las Vegas.

DISH subscribers can already receive 350 channels from the EchoStar transponder at 110°W longitude. The new antenna can pick up and amplify signals for an additional 150 channels from another transponder at 119°W without shifting position. Twin feed horns and low-noise amplifiers (LNAs) make dual-satellite reception possible with only a single receiver, company officials stated.

Expanded offerings will include foreign- and Spanish-language programming, local TV channels, Internet access, HDTV events, "CD-quality" music channels, and an onscreen programming guide. Long discussed but never realized, 500 channels of TV should provide something for almost everybody. "Cable companies have been promising 500 channels for years but never delivered," Ergen said. "DISH Network is proud to be the company that will fulfill this promise for consumers."

The DISH 500 satellite TV system with EchoStar's Model 4722 will be available soon for $299. The DISH 500 system will also be compatible with EchoStar's DISHPlayer, the world's first integrated satellite and Internet receiver/hard-disk recorder, introduced in May of this year.