Dish Network Targets MDUs with New Fiber Service

Satellite operator Dish Network is looking to generate new business from the multiple-dwelling-unit market with a service called Dish Optical Network, which will use a single strand of fiber-optic cable to take video from a Dish satellite antenna and deliver it to individual apartments.

The fiber-optic link will have the ability to deliver up to 400 HD programming channels, Dish said, although the satellite operator itself is simply hoping to offer 100 national HD networks to its subscriber base by year-end.

The Federal Communications Commission’s ruling last October to nullify exclusive contracts between cable operators and MDUs and, thus, open up the market to more competition was part of the impetus behind the new fiber-optic service, Dish spokeswoman Francie Bauer said.

But she added that the real driver for the fiber-optic product was to target smaller MDUs with fewer than 100 subscribers, for which Dish’s existing L-band terrestrial MDU system, suitable for garden-style communities, or its SMATV- (satellite master antenna TV) and QAM-based (quadrature amplitude modulation) coaxial systems, aimed at high-rises, were “cost-prohibitive.”

Dish technicians will install the service by mounting satellite antennas and running the fiber line through the building. The Dish Optical Network base system supports up to 128 subscribers within an MDU and is scalable to support thousands of subscribers as required. Each subscriber can have up to six standard Dish set-top receivers.