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What is Dish® Satellite Network?

By R. Anacan
Updated May 16, 2024
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Dish® Satellite Network, also known as Dish Network®, is a telecommunications company that provides television service in the United States of America. As its name suggests, Dish® Satellite Network utilizes satellite technology to deliver television service to subscribers of its service. Dish® Satellite Network had its origins in the founding of company known as EchoStar™ in 1980.

EchoStar™ began operations selling satellite television equipment in the state of Colorado and soon became a manufacturer of satellite equipment. Believing that there was a growing market for economical satellite television service, EchoStar™ began efforts to obtain a direct broadcast satellite (DBS) license from the United States Federal Communications Commission in the mid 1980s and was granted a DBS license in 1992. EchoStar™ launched its first satellite, named EchoStar I, in 1995 and Dish Network® began providing service in 1996.

The company’s satellite fleet now includes 14 satellites, enabling Dish® Satellite Network to broadcast to all 50 states in the United States. Dish® Satellite Network was spun off from EchoStar™ in 2008 and both are now separate companies with Dish Network® focusing on providing satellite television service and EchoStar™ focusing on developing satellite hardware and technology.

Satellite programming had it origins in what has been dubbed the “space race” between the United States and the former U.S.S.R. The first communication satellites were launched in the early 1960s and by the late 1970s, television broadcasts were routinely distributed via satellite. As broadcasting companies realized that almost anyone with a satellite could receive their transmissions with a satellite dish, they petitioned the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for permission to restrict access to their signals.

The FCC ruled that people had the right to receive signals that were being broadcast. Companies then began to encode the broadcast signal so that only users with a decoder box would be able to clearly view the broadcast. This led to a rise in pay for service satellite television companies beginning in 1991 with the launch of Primestar. DIRECTV® followed suit a few years later and began service in 1994 and Dish® Satellite Network began service in 1996. With the 1999 acquisition of Primestar by DIRECTV®, DIRECTV® and Dish Network® remain the dominant providers of satellite service in the United States. Other competitors of Dish Network® include providers of cable television, Internet television services and over-the-air television broadcasts.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon137467 — On Dec 28, 2010

We were with Echo Star and then Dish from the beginning. I even sold Dish subscriptions. After 15 years, we switched to DirecTV in August, 2010. There is NO comparison. DirecTV is superior in so

many ways, and we would never go back to Dish.

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