Satellite Reception May Expand Communications

Article excerpt

Satellite television technology could bring about a socio-economic revolution predicted five decades ago.

Satellite television, now used only for entertainment in about 2 million households nationwide, could become a communications center which will allow business to migrate from the office to the home.

Already many stockbrokers, investment conselors, consultants and sales representatives use communications satellites to stay in touch with offices and businesses from their homes thousands of miles away. These, however, are the most successful, the ones who can afford the huge initial investment required to set up such a system.

Even then, with current technology, communications are limited, and long distance telephone lines are required to complete the center.

Before the turn of the century, though, receiving and transmitting equipment will be refined and miniaturized, and offered at a price low enough so that complete business communications centers can be established in nearly every home in the nation.

At least that's the prediction of Jack Riley, vice president of Superstar Connection, a program relay service of Tulsa-based United Video Inc. Riley also is a director of Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association of America, an industry trade association.

Now home business communications centers are only for the wealthy or those whose volume of business from the home warrants the expense of installing separate transmitting and receiving equipment. Also today's equipment is large, cumbersome and prevented in many residential neighborhoods by specific zoning laws because of the unsightly receiving dish and antenna required.

Within 10 years, this six-foot diameter dish (which was 10-feet in diameter five years ago) will be replaced by a receiving and transmiting unit about the size of a video cassette recorder.

Today's receiving equipment has a large prong-like antenna surrounded by a concave dish to gather and intensify signals which must be physically revolved to receive signals from various orbiting satellites. The new, smaller receivers, Riley said, will be covered with individual chips which can be moved so that signals can be received from more than one satellite simultaneously. The unit can be located inside the house and will never require repositioning.

"When we get that equipment on the market," Riley said, "we will have a market explosion.

"Right now we have about 2 million households equipped with satellite receivers. Because of the small number, that group really is not a force in the broadcast industry, nor are major equipment manufacturers keying into them.

"But the market is growing steadily and within five years, that number will double and double again before the turn of the century.

"When that happens, broadcasters, programmers and manufacturers are going to jump in completely to garner that market.

"That's when the small, totally integrated receiver and transmitter will come into its own."

When that trans-ceiver becomes popular, and is available for a reasonable price, Riley said, most households will have totally integrated business communciations centers. These centers will have telephone, computer and television hooked into one outlet of a house which will be wired with fiber optics so that centers can be in any room in the house. …