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Light, Tasteful Satellite Dishes on the Horizon for TV Viewers

September 01, 1990|From Video Magazine and Distributed by AP Newsfeatures

Traditionally, satellite dishes have been something of a blight on homeowners' landscapes.

The 8-foot dishes that come to mind are expensive, cumbersome and can't easily be set up for someone who lives in an apartment. But that situation may be on the verge of changing.

A consortium called Sky Cable--which includes NBC, Cablevision Systems and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., to name a few--is studying new technology that, perhaps by 1993, might enable people to clip satellite dishes the size of laptop computers outside their windows. In fact, these dishes that won't even look like dishes offer better reception and more programming choices than cable.

Called squarials, these flat antennas, 12 inches on a side, may be possible because the satellites that send the signals will be more powerful. Satellites proposed for the future will carry 200-watt transmitters. With this kind of power, the receiving dish need not be as large as in the past. Traditional dishes require large reflective surfaces that can capture enough of today's low-powered signals to produce adequately strong images.

Sky Cable, tentatively boasting 108 channels, would offer perfect reception without any troublesome cables. This is all due to new transmission techniques the company is working on.

The antenna and receiver are expected to cost about $300 when the system is introduced in the United States. No date has been set for when this will happen. The system is touted as a supplement to both cable and regular broadcast TV. The major networks have no intention of putting their programs on the satellite.

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