The Future for Dish: It’s Not Just Satellite

Dish Network (s DISH) has plans to move beyond just satellite TV, through various acquisitions by it and and sister technology firm EchoStar. (s SATS) And those plans seem to be falling into place, with adaptive streaming technology soon to be rolled out in its set-top boxes, access to digital video rights and the Blockbuster brand, as well as some spectrum that could be used for wireless broadband services.

Dish provided an update Friday on its plans for Move Networks, the troubled adaptive-streaming technology firm that EchoStar acquired in January. At the satellite-TV provider’s Team Summit meeting, Dish said that it would use the Move Networks adaptive streaming technology in its set-top boxes and for streaming to PCs from its Dish Online portal, according to Light Reading. Combine that with the Sling Media technology that EchoStar acquired, and Dish customers will be able to access high-quality video feeds regardless of the speed of their Internet connections.

The rollout of adaptive bit-rate technology is important for Dish, which can’t guarantee the quality of broadband its customers use to access IP video streams. Since it has no terrestrial broadband infrastructure as a satellite provider, Dish is reliant on other ISPs to actually deliver the broadband streams. So ensuring the highest quality video delivery with adaptive bit rate technology makes sense. According to Light Reading, Move-encoded files need a minimum of 1.5Mbps throughput for standard definition streams and 3Mbps for HD files. Each file will be encoded for 11 different bit rates, with five of those for different levels of HD delivery.

While Move Networks will provide the technology for delivering library and on-demand titles to its subscribers online, Sling technology enables users to stream live TV from their DVRs to PCs and other connected devices. With Sling now integrated into advanced set-top boxes, and with applications available for devices like the iPhone, iPad and Android mobile devices, Dish subscribers now have the ability to stream their programming anywhere.

But there are a few wrinkles that could take Dish Network beyond just satellite TV and enable it to reach viewers by broadband only. For one thing, through its acquisition of Inuk Networks in 2009, Move Networks had repositioned itself — and its technology — as a way to deliver live TV programming to integrated set-top boxes in areas where ISPs didn’t want to deploy TV infrastructure. Dish could potentially take that technology to deliver its video services over IP without a satellite connection.

Dish’s acquisition of satellite provider DBSD in a bankruptcy auction could also give it the ability to roll out wireless broadband services. DBSD has some 700MHz spectrum that Dish could use combine with Move Networks adaptive streaming technology, for a new mobile video delivery platform.

On the company’s first-quarter earnings call, Dish CEO Charlie Ergen referred to Dish’s plans as a “Seinfeld strategy,” noting that for the first 28 minutes or so of that show, a lot of things happen that get tied up at the very end of the episode. It’s still early on in Dish’s integration of all these pieces, but it seems clear that IP video will be a big part of what ties it all together.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Thomas Ormston.