Dish Looks To Boost HD Capacity With Launch Of 'EchoStar XV' Satellite

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Dish Network on Saturday successfully launched EchoStar XV, which the direct-broadcast satellite operator said will begin operations this summer and provide more capacity for high-definition programming.

Dish claims to offer more than 200 national HD channels, but more than 50 of these are individual video-on-demand movie titles in HD that require the ViP 922 digital video recorder. The company offers local HD channels in 156 markets.

EchoStar XV, built by Space Systems/Loral, lifted off on an International Launch Services Proton/Breeze M rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:40 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, July 10. After a nine-hour, 13-minute mission, EchoStar XV was successfully released into geosynchronous transfer orbit. The spacecraft eventually will reside at 61.5 degrees West longitude at an altitude of approximately 22,000 miles above the Earth.

On March 20, 2010, Dish launched the EchoStar XIV satellite, which commenced commercial operations at the orbital position of 119 degrees West in May. The DBS operator currently uses 12 satellites in geostationary orbit above the equator, five of which it owns and five of which are leased from EchoStar, which split off from Dish into a separate company in 2008.

"The launch of EchoStar XV demonstrates Dish Network's continuing commitment to delivering the most high-quality HD programming at the best value," executive vice president Tom Cullen said in a statement.

Dish had 14.3 million satellite TV customers as of the end of March.

In a carriage dispute with Walt Disney Co., Dish last month was forced to drop four of programmer's HD channels: Disney Channel HD, Disney XD HD, ABC Family HD and ESPNews HD.

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