Signals from communications satellites in geostationary orbit (36,000km above the earth’s surface) are over a billion billion times smaller when they reach the earth than when they left the satellite (the same is true for signals being sent from earth to the satellite).

Satellite signals are therefore really small when they reach the surface of the earth and can easily be interfered with (other local radio transmissions, mobile signals using the same frequency spectrum or even rain can easily interrupt reception of the satellite signals). In the case of TV, interference means that programs become unwatchable either because the resolution is so bad or because they are constantly interrupted. This happened in Bolivia in 2006 and Bolivians missed parts of the World Cup!

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