PrimeStar was a U.S. direct broadcast satellite broadcasting company formed in 1991 by a consortium of cable television system operators. PrimeStar was the first medium-powered DBS system in the United States but slowly declined in popularity with the arrival of
DirecTVin 1994 and Dish Networkin 1996.
PrimeStar was a medium-powered DBS-style system utilizing FSS technology that used a larger 3-foot (91 cm)
satellite dishto receive signals.
Broadcast using digital technology, the system used the
DigiCipher 1system for conditional access control and video compression. The video format was MPEG-2. [http://www.coolstf.com/mpeg/ PrimeStar digital video information]
PrimeStar was owned by a consortium of
cable televisioncompanies who leased equipment to subscribers through the local cable company.
The company was in the process of converting to a high powered DBS platform when it was purchased and shut down by DirecTV. The Tempo-1 and Tempo-2 DBS satellites acquired by PrimeStar from the defunct
ASkyBwere renamed DirecTV-5and DirecTV-6, respectively.
The system initially launched using medium-powered FSS satellites that were facing obsolescence with the onset of high-powered DBS and its much smaller, eighteen inch satellite dishes. In a move to convert the platform to DBS, PrimeStar bid for the 110-degree satellite location that was eventually awarded to a never-launched direct broadcast satellite service by
MCIand News Corporationcalled ASkyB.
The ASkyB company sold the incomplete
Tempo 1and Tempo 2DBS satellites to PrimeStar in the process of going out of business. [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_1997_June_11/ai_19491382 ASkyB Sells Assets to PrimeStar] Primestar launched Tempo-2 in 1997 but it was not used for many years. PrimeStar stored the other satellite, Tempo-1, until the company and the two satellites were purchased by DirecTV. [http://space.skyrocket.de/index_frame.htm?http://www.skyrocket.de/space/doc_sdat/tempo.htm Tempo 1 and Tempo 2 satellite information] DirecTV eventually launched the Tempo 1 satellite after years of delays as the DirecTV-5 satellite in 2002. [http://www.spaceflightnow.com/proton/dtv5/ Launch of DirecTV-5 (former Tempo-1)]
PrimeStar Partners sold its assets to
Hughes Network Systems(Now The DirecTV Group, parent company of DirecTV) in 1999 and all subscribers were converted to the DirecTV platform. The PrimeStar brand and its FSS broadcast platform was shut down. Meanwhile, Tempo 1 and Tempo 2 satellite remained, as yet unused.
The Tempo 1 and Tempo 2 satellites were renamed DirecTV-5 and DirecTV-6, respectively, and moved to several locations to serve DirecTV customers.
The company that was awarded the 110-degree slot, ASkyB, eventually became defunct and the license for the 110-degree satellite location was resold to EchoStar, the parent company of
Use of old equipment
Old PrimeStar satellite dishes are popular among hobbyists for
free-to-air(FTA) satellite broadcasts on the Ku band transponders of FSS satellites.
The dishes are also popular for wireless computer networking as high-gain
Wi-Fiantennas. The antennas are also used by amateur (ham) radio operators to transmit two-way amateur television.
* [http://web.archive.org/web/19970512011951/http://www.primestar.com/ Primestar official homepage via Internet Archive (5/12/1997)]
AlphaStar, a defunct satellite broadcaster that also used medium-powered FSS satellites and larger dishes.
DirecTV, a direct competitor using high-powered DBS satellites and smaller dishes.
Dish Network, a direct competitor using high-powered DBS satellites and smaller dishes.
Star Choice, a Canadian broadcaster using medium-powered FSS satellites and larger dishes.
Bell TV, a Canadian broadcaster using high-powered DBS satellites and smaller dishes.
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