Television receive-only, or TVRO is a term used in North America to refer to the reception of satellite television from FSS-type satellites, generally on C-band analog; free-to-air and unconnected to a commercial DBS provider. TVRO systems rely on feeds being transmitted unencrypted and using open-standards, which heavily contrasts to DBS systems in the region.
The term is rarely used in recent times due to the general move towards pay television and subscription-based DBS services like DirecTV, Dish Network, Bell TV, and Sky TV, although it is still sometimes used to refer to receiving digital TV "backhaul" feeds from FSS-type satellites.
TVRO was once the sole, and later the main means of consumer satellite reception in the United States, until the mid-1990s and the arrival of services such as DirecTV and Dish Network. While these services are at least theoretically based on open standards (DVB-S, MPEG-2), the majority of services are encrypted and require proprietary decoder hardware.
TVRO systems are also referred to colloquially (and somewhat pejoratively) as big ugly dish (BUD) systems, due to their large-sized receiving dishes.
Reception of free-to-air satellite signals, generally Ku band Digital Video Broadcasting, for home viewing is still common in Europe, India and Australia, although the TVRO nomenclature was never used there.
Free-to-air satellite signals are also very common in the People's Republic of China, as many rural locations cannot receive cable television and solely rely on satellites to deliver television signals to individual homes.
TVRO on Ships
The term TVRO has been in use on ships since it was introduced in the 1980s. One early provider of equipment was SeaTel with its first generation of stabilized satellite antennas that was launched in 1985, the TV-at-Sea 8885 system. Until this time ships had not been able to receive TV signals from satellites due to their rocking motion rendering reception impossible. The SeaTel antenna however was stabilized using electrically driven gyroscopes and thus made it possible to point to the satellite accurately enough, that is to within 2 degrees, in order to receive a signal. The successful implementation of stabilised TVRO systems on ships immediately led to the development of maritime VSAT systems. The second generation of SeaTel TVRO systems came in 1994 and was the 2494 antenna, which got its gyro signal from the ship rather than its own gyros, improving accuracy and reducing maintenance.
As of 2010 SeaTel continues to dominate the market for stabilized TVRO systems and has according to the Comsys group a market share of 75%. Other established providers of stabilised satellite antennas are Intellian, KNS, Orbit and KVH.
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