As with everything, satellite providers have competition. The great thing to know is that there are only two, Dish Network and DirecTV. Dish Network has not been on the scene as long as DirecTV, but this does not mean the quality is not present.
Dish Network provides over 250 channels to any satellite family. They have several packages so that you can choose if you want movie, sports, and other channels. Like most even cable, Dish Network provides the lower channels such as USA, FOX, NBC, and those like them in every package. This means you can just have these channels or you can add specialty channels like HBO, Starz, and the sports channels. Dish Network also provides Sirius satellite radio channels.
When you are looking to buy a dish, keep in mind that you need to have the equipment from Dish Network in order to use their service. Each satellite company has a signal that recognizes the individual dishes. This is how they know which channels you have paid for and which ones you have not. This also tells them that you are up to date on payments and have not cancelled service. If you have a DirecTV dish, but no longer wish to use their service for whatever reason, you will need to buy new equipment. There are deals out there to make this process a little less painful on your pocket book. Another thing to keep in mind is that both satellite providers offer the same types of packages for around the same cost. Often one company has different channels.
On December 28, 1995 EchoStar successfully launched its first satellite, EchoStar I. The launch of Echostar I was a gamble in that it was one of the first successful commercial launches from China after a series of spectacular failures. That same year, EchoStar established the DISH Network brand name to market its home satellite TV system. The company used "DISH" as an acronym for Digital Sky Highway.
In 2003, DISH Network began providing in-flight satellite TV service to the U.S. airline Song. In 2004, selected music channels from Sirius Satellite Radio were added to DISH Network's lineup of audio-only channels that already include Muzak audio services for both households and businesses.
DISH Network was also partnered with Starband to deliver broadband satellite Internet service along with its television service. The partnership ended in 2003. Currently, DISH Network has partnership agreements with a number of local telephone providers to cross-market DSL and DISH Network services. In June 2006, Dish Network signed an agreement to partner with WildBlue to deliver broadband via satellite.
On January 4, 2006 EchoStar announced that DISH Network surpassed 12 million paid subscribers. In the last five years, DISH Network added more than 6.74 million net new customers, more than all other satellite TV and cable companies during the same period. As of February 2007, DISH Network reported reaching the 13 million customer mark.
Each month, DISH Network broadcasts a show titled Charlie Chat, which features news about upcoming hardware, programming events, and new channels. Company CEO Charlie Ergen and Jim De Franco host the show and take questions from e-mail and live callers. On March 13, 2006 a special 90-minute edition of "Charlie Chats" aired at 9 p.m. (Eastern time) to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the launch of the DISH Network to its customers.
Recently, Dish Network has started to provide Internet access to compete with cable companies.
Since its launch in 1996, 30 million viewers in 12 million households have subscribed at some point in time to DISH Network programming.