ABS has been transmitting an HD channel — Trace Sports — for over a year. The channel can be viewed by anyone with an MPEG4 Ku band satellite receiver.
Now, Doordarshan’s DTH service has also entered the HD era by starting to transmit its ‘National’ channel on high-definition. The channel is also available on Tata Sky.
Like ABS, DD Free Dish signals are unencrypted and can be pulled down by anyone with an MPEG-4 satellite receiver.
There is a slight difference between the two services in that ABS supports the use of older MPEG-2 receivers, while DD does not.
Free DTH operators are able to meet their expenses by taking money from the channels instead of from the consumers.
While operators like Tata Sky, Airtel Digital and Dish TV charge around Rs 200 per month from each subscriber, DD and ABS do not.
Doordarshan’s DTH service has managed to garner millions of users in North India as it provides a huge number of free Hindi-language channels.
ABS, on the other hand, is stronger in the South and East Indian markets as it has a large number of South Indian and Bengali channels.
However, the number of HD channels on these platforms is far less than that on paid platforms. Tata Sky has around 90 HD channels, followed by Airtel Digital with around 70 and Dish TV and Sun Direct with around 60.
DD Free Dish can be viewed by using a Ku Band receiver and a 2-feet dish that has to be pointed to the GSAT 15 satellite placed over the 93.5 degree East Meridian.
ABS satellite is located over the 75 degree East meridian, which lies over states such as Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala.