Three Degrees Of Separation For Satellites?

A behind-the-scenes battle has broken out between manufacturers of C-band satellites and the home satellite-television industry over an obscure issue: how far apart C-band satellites should be placed in orbit. Satellite makers want the Federal Communications Commission to stick with its 1982 order that specifies just two degrees of arc separation between satellites. But the home satellite-TV business wants it changed to three degrees in a section of the skies so that homeowners can buy small, inexpensive dishes. Unlike their larger cousins, small dishes now have trouble picking out the distinct signals of closely spaced satellites.

General Electric Co. is especially opposed because the wider separation could push one of its satellites out of range of part of the continental U. S. That could cost the company millions of dollars. The FCC is studying the issue.

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