Tuning in via satellite
New television service arrives in the North

by Cheryl Leschasin
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 25/97) - The good news is satellite television is now available to anyone in the North who has a place to mount a dish.

"There's about three of them up here," said Matthew Nungaq of Resolute.

The bad news is satellite television can be a costly alternative to local cable programming and, often, the variety of shows doesn't include those Northerners are accustomed to watching, like regional news.

Satellite reception equipment requires a large initial investment for equipment. Equipment price ranges from about $500 to $1,100, depending on the quality of the receiver and size of the dish.

People living in the North have no option but to buy a large dish, at least 60 centimetres in diameter, in the Mackenzie region, a 75-centimetre dish if you reside in the High Arctic.

That's because the further one is located from the signal source, the larger the dish one needs to catch the signal.

In southern Canada, satellite consumers can use a small, 45-centimetre dish, often referred to as a "pizza dish."

"We're in the process of trying out a 30-inch (75-centimetre) dish," said Kathleen Broderick of Radio Shack in Iqaluit. The company plans to begin selling systems as soon as it finds one that works well in the Baffin.

The company had previously been experimenting with a 60-centimetre dish but found it wasn't large enough to pick up a strong signal.

"Iqaluit is low in the mountains," said Broderick, which can make a big difference. People living in a low area or in an area surrounded by mountains or tall buildings could have trouble picking up a signal.

"For a dish to work, it has to be pointed exactly the right way," said Broderick. Knowing this, it is probably a good idea to find out whether you have a clear signal path if you're planning to purchase a system.

An added bonus to setting up a home satellite system will soon be offered, said Broderick.

"Star Choice (an equipment and programming company) is planning a high-speed Internet access through the satellite service. It's supposed to be available toward Christmas," she said.