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US 20060053436A1
(19) United States
(12) Patent Application Publication (10) Pub. No.: US 2006/0053436 A1
(43) Pub. Date:
Allwein et al.
(54)
WIRELESS BACK CHANNEL FOR
SATELLITE TELEVISION SYSTEM
(75)
Inventors: Edward AllWein, Castle Rock, CO
(US); Michael Dugan, Parker, CO
(US); Mark H. Gomez, Parker, CO
Mar. 9, 2006
Publication Classi?cation
(51) Int. Cl.
H04N 7/16
H04N 7/173
(52)
(2006.01)
(2006.01)
US. Cl. .................. .. 725/1; 725/2; 725/62; 725/105
(Us)
(57)
Correspondence Address:
MERCHANT & GOULD PC
PO. BOX 2903
MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55402-0903 (US)
(73) Assignee: EchoStar Technologies Corporation
(21) Appl. No.:
(22)
Filed:
ABSTRACT
The present invention solves the above problems by attach
ing a cellular phone receiver to the set-top-boX. This cellular
phone receiver has a modem to transmit data betWeen the
subscriber’s box and a cellular netWork. The cellular net
10/936,191
Work may relay the data to the pay-television distributor.
Other features and advantages of the present invention Will
become apparent from the following detailed description of
Sep. 7, 2004
the invention and the accompanying drawings.
106
128
/ 104
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Satellite Television
Wireless Phone Tower
Distributor
132
/ 130
/ 102
Wireless Antenna
Satellite
1
Communications
Device
/
108
112
‘
Wireless Receiver
118
Television
/11O
Converter Device
(
Television
126
Remote
Control
Patent Application Publication Mar. 9, 2006 Sheet 1 0f 8
106
51
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US 2006/0053436 A1
104
128
4/ w /
Satellite
Satellite Television
Wireless Phone Tower
Distributor
132
130
'
/ 102
Satellite
Communications
_
Device
Wireless Antenna
1
1 12
t
106
ll
Wireless Receiver
/
110
1 1a
Television
Converter Device
k
Television
\
k
126
V
FIG. 1
100
Remote
Control
Patent Application Publication Mar. 9, 2006 Sheet 2 0f 8
US 2006/0053436 A1
Television Convene! Device
206
208
204
:
Tuner
1
_
Demod ulamr 5 Forward
Ema! Conection
V
20°
202
Control Electmmcs
212
214
216
‘
CPU
Non-Volatile
Volatile Memory
Al
21 B
Video Plooessinn
Memory
k
220
Unit
Vndeo Enmder
Al
Al
A
iV
iV
210
‘V
i
I
aus
Peripheral lme?aoe
238
H rd D '
XPORT Engine
A
lritevlale
'
Proc‘éfing
vwreless Phone lmedaoe
Ak
A
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Ak
222
226
228
iY
/'
232
Hard Drive
235
\
Smart Cam
=
v
234
Remote
Conuol
-
v
Wireless
Device
24o
'
V
230
Patent Application Publication Mar. 9, 2006 Sheet 3 0f 8
US 2006/0053436 A1
312
302
Television Convener
Device
FIG. 3
Patent Application Publication Mar. 9, 2006 Sheet 4 0f 8
US 2006/0053436 A1
412
302
Television Convener
Device
FIG. 4
Patent Application Publication Mar. 9, 2006 Sheet 5 0f 8
US 2006/0053436 A1
304
512
;
30B
510
502
315
514 \
Television Convener
Device
FIG. 5
_
Patent Application Publication Mar. 9, 2006 Sheet 6 0f 8
US 2006/0053436 A1
Receive and
Television
602 \ Decode
Content at
Television
Converter
604
Collect Information
at Television
Converter
Store Information
in Memory at
Television
Converter
Wirelessly
608
Transmit
Information from
Television
Converter to Pay
Television
Distributor via
VWreless Network
——[email protected]
FIG. 6
Patent Application Publication Mar. 9, 2006 Sheet 7 0f 8
US 2006/0053436 A1
lnfonnation
Transmitted to
Wireless Network
by Pay Television
Distributor via
102 /
Communications
Network
Information Signal
Transmitted from
Wireless Network
to Wireless
Antenna at at
Subscriber
Location
704 /
Wireless Antenna
Receives
information Signal
and Relays to
70s \ Wireless
Receiver
Wireless Receiver
Processes or
Information Signal
Wireless Receiver
Sends lnfonnation
to Television
710
Convener
Television
Converter
Processes
Information
FIG. 7
/ 712
Patent Application Publication Mar. 9, 2006 Sheet 8 0f 8
i 1061
-e—
Satellite
US 2006/0053436 A1
/ 104
Satellite Television
Distributor
Wireless Phone Tower
132
130
/
/m
l
\
Wireless Antenna / 812
Satellite
k
Communications
Device
/
'
108
Wireless Device /
818
L
T
110
Television
Converler Device
836
800
/
Telephone Base
Station
126
Television
\
Remote
120
FIG. 8
Control
Mar. 9, 2006
US 2006/0053436 A1
WIRELESS BACK CHANNEL FOR SATELLITE
TELEVISION SYSTEM
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL
VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
[0007]
FIG. 1 is a high level block diagram of a system
using a television converter and a Wireless device of an
[0001] The present invention relates to television con
verter devices. More speci?cally, the invention provides a
method and apparatus for Wirelessly communicating to a
television converter device.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
[0002]
The prior art includes various devices Which can be
used to receive pay-television signals. Pay television service
involves a pay television distributor sending television sig
nals to subscribers. These subscribers are given or pay for a
television converter. Television converters are commonly
knoWn as cable boxes or satellite television set-top-boxes.
embodiment of the present invention.
[0008]
FIG. 2 is a high level block diagram of a television
converter of an embodiment of the present invention.
[0009] FIG. 3 illustrates one embodiment of a Wireless
back channel.
[0010] FIG. 4 illustrates another embodiment of a Wire
less back channel.
[0011] FIG. 5 illustrates yet another embodiment of a
Wireless back channel.
[0012]
FIG. 6 illustrates the logical steps of one embodi
These boxes receive and decode the pay-television signal for
ment of a method for utiliZing a Wireless back channel.
authoriZed display on a television set or monitor.
[0013]
[0003] Many of the pay-television distributors need to
receive communications from set-top-boxes. Communica
embodiment of a method for utiliZing a Wireless back
channel.
tions may include pay-per-vieW purchase records or other
types of information. These communications may be shoWn
on the television or may affect the operation of the set-top
box.
using a television converter, Wireless device and an attached
telephone base station of an embodiment of the present
invention.
[0004] Many current pay-television systems utiliZe a
phone line connected to the set-top-box. The phone line acts
as a communications pathWay betWeen the pay-television
distributor and the subscriber. It is desirable to provide an
alternative communications pathWay Where a phone line is
not available or not connected. Sometimes the subscriber
installs the television system or set-top-box Where a phone
line is not available. In recent years, many people have
sWitched exclusively to Wireless or cellular phones and may
[0014]
FIG. 7 illustrates the logical steps of a second
FIG. 8 is a high level block diagram of a system
[0015] For clari?cation, the draWings use a nomenclature
for reference numerals that has tWo parts. The ?rst part of the
reference numeral is the draWing number, and it is folloWed
by the second part, a tWo digit identi?er (draWing 1 uses lxx;
draWing 3 uses 3xx). For example, tWo reference numerals
in draWing 1 may be “102” and “104.” Areference numeral
in one draWing may be referred to in subsequent draWings;
the same reference numeral in later draWings refers to the
same item.
not have a residential telephone line to communicate to the
pay-television distributor. In other installations, the sub
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
INVENTION
scriber fails to or forgets to connect the phone line. In some
situations, the subscriber may simply refuse to install the
phone line. Thus, there exists a need to provide a commu
nications pathWay betWeen the subscriber and the pay
television distributor that does not rely on a landline phone.
There also exists a need for a communications pathWay
betWeen the set-top-box to the pay-television distributor that
cannot be inadvertently or intentionally disconnected by a
subscriber.
[0005] Some subscribers Who do not have access to a
landline phone line may nevertheless also Wish to connect a
landline telephone unit for use With this alternative commu
nications pathWay. A need therefore exists to permit the use
of a subscriber’s conventional landline telephone unit via the
alternative communications pathWay.
[0016] In this speci?cation, the present invention Will be
described using methods and systems related to subscriber
satellite television service. This speci?c description is not
meant to limit the invention to that one embodiment. The
present invention may also be applicable to cable television
systems, broadcast television systems or other television
systems. The present invention is also described in terms of
digital video recording (DVR) devices. The present inven
tion may also be applicable to digital-versatile-disc (DVD)
recording devices or other television recording devices. One
skilled in the art Will recogniZe that the present invention can
apply elseWhere.
[0017]
As a general matter, the disclosure uses the term
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
“signal.” One skilled in the art Will recogniZe that the signal
may be any digital or analog signal. Those signals may
[0006] The present invention solves the above problems
include, but are not limited to, a bit, a speci?ed set of bits,
an A/C signal, or a D/C signal. Uses of the term “signal” in
by attaching a Wireless phone device and antenna to the
set-top-box. This Wireless phone system transmits data
betWeen the subscriber’s box and a Wireless netWork. The
cellular netWork may relay the data to the pay-television
distributor. Other features and advantages of the present
invention Will become apparent from the folloWing detailed
description of the invention and the accompanying draW
1ngs.
the description may include any of these different interpre
tations. It Will also be understood to one skilled in the art that
the term “connected” is not limited to a physical connection
but can refer to any means of communicatively or opera
tively coupling tWo devices.
[0018] As another general matter, the disclosure uses the
terms “television converter,”“receiver,”“set-top-box,”“tele
Mar. 9, 2006
US 2006/0053436 A1
vision receiving device,”“television receiver,”“television
user operation of the satellite set-top-box since it models an
recording device,”“satellite set-top-box,”“satellite receiver,
analog television or analog receiving device. The virtual
channels may appear in the electronic program guide (EPG)
data and the user may choose programming by selecting a
”“cable set-top-box,”“cable receiver,” and “television tuner”
to refer interchangeably to a converter device or electronic
equipment that has the capacity to acquire, process and
distribute one or more television signals transmitted by
broadcast, cable, telephone or satellite distributors. “Digital
video recorder (DVR)” and “personal video recorder
(PVR)” refer interchangeably to devices that can digitally
record and play back television signals and that may imple
ment trick functions including, but not limited to, fast
forWard, reWind and pause. As set forth in this speci?cation
and the ?gures pertaining thereto, DVR and PVR function
ality or devices may be combined With a television con
verter. The signals transmitted by these broadcast, cable,
telephone or satellite distributors may include, individually
or in any combination, internet, radio, television or tele
phonic data or information. One skilled in the art Will
recogniZe that a television converter device may be imple
mented as an external self-enclosed unit, a plurality of
virtual channel. For instance, the user can select HBO,
Which may be on virtual channel 300, or CSPAN, Which may
be on virtual channel 210. These service providers or virtual
channels are not necessarily carried in the same signal being
sent from the same satellite. EPG data may come from a
service provider (e.g., HBO), content provider (e.g., Dis
ney), a third party (e.g., TV Guide) or from another outside
entity.
[0022]
Thus, in satellite television service a channel may
not be the same as in broadcast television service. Rather,
channels may be more properly termed service providers in
satellite television service. The term “channel” Will be used
in this description to describe the service providers and the
virtual channels they may occupy.
external self-enclosed units or as an internal unit housed
[0023] FIG. 1 presents an embodiment of a home enter
tainment system 102 that includes a television converter
Within a television. One skilled in the art Will recogniZe that
device 100 in the form of a satellite set-top-box. Generally,
the present invention can apply to analog and digital satellite
the satellite set-top-box 100 may receive one or more
set-top-boxes.
television signals from a cable television distributor (not
[0019] As yet another general matter, it Will be understood
by one skilled in the art that the term “television” refers to
a television set or video display that may contain an inte
grated television converter device (e.g., an internal cable
ready television tuner housed inside a television) or, alter
natively, that is connected to an external television converter
device (e.g., an external set-top-box connected via cabling to
a television). A further example of an external television
converter device is the EchoStar Dish PVR 721, Part Num
shoWn), from a broadcast television distributor (not shoWn)
or from a satellite television distributor 104. As a preferred
embodiment, home entertainment system 102 receives sig
nals from satellite television distributor 104. One skilled in
the art Will recogniZe that set-top-box 100 may also receive
video-digital subscriber line (DSL), DSL, Internet, Wireless
and other signals from content or video distributors. The
satellite set-top-box 100 may process television signals and
may send the processed signals to peripheral electronic
ber 106525, combination satellite set-top-box and PVR. For
the remainder of this disclosure, speci?c embodiments Will
be described using a television converter device that imple
ments satellite technology.
devices, such as a monitor or television 120. The satellite
[0020] Finally, as a general matter, it should be understood
that satellite television signals may be very different from
broadcast television or other types of signals. Satellite
[0024] To further describe the home entertainment system,
embodiments relating to receiving satellite television signals
signals may include multiplexed, packetiZed, and modulated
digital signals. Once multiplexed, packetiZed and modu
lated, one analog satellite transmission may carry digital
data representing several television stations or service pro
viders. Some examples of service providers include HBOTM,
CSPANTM, ABCTM, CBSTM, or ESPNTM. In satellite televi
sion, a service provider can also be compared to a “channel.”
[0021] The term “channel,” as used in this description,
carries a different meaning from its normal connotation. In
broadcast television, different analog signals of a television
station may be carried on a carrier frequency and its sub
channels. A tuner in a television may then acquire and
process these signals. In broadcast television, the term
channel has thus become synonymous With the sub-channel
or the station on that sub-channel. The normal connotation
of the term “channel” is therefore not alWays appropriate to
describe satellite television transmissions Where multiple
stations may be multiplexed onto a single carrier frequency.
Satellite television distributors, hoWever, may organiZe the
satellite data into a group of different “virtual channels.”
These virtual channels give the impression that the satellite
set-top-box 100 also may accept commands from a remote
control 126 or other peripheral electronic devices. More
detail about the functionality of the satellite set-top-box 100
is provided beloW.
Will be explained in more detail. A satellite television
distributor 104 may transmit one or more satellite television
signals 128 to one or more satellites 106. Satellite television
distributors may utiliZe several satellites 106 to relay the
satellite television signals to a subscriber. Each satellite 106
may have several transpondcrs. Transpondcrs transmit the
signal 130 from the satellite to the subscriber. For example,
these signals 130 may be transmitted at a frequency of 2150
MhZ.
[0025] A transponder may also polariZe the transmitted
signal 130 in several Ways. One form of polariZation in
satellite transmissions is circular polariZation. For example,
transponders of satellite 106 may transmit tWo signals
(together as signal 130) on the same transponder, one signal
that is right-hand polariZed and another signal that is left
hand polariZed. In other Words, tWo signals may be simul
taneously transmitted With opposite polariZations. The oppo
site polariZations may prevent interference. One skilled in
the art Will recogniZe that other Ways of polariZing signals
are possible.
television programs are placed in normal channels that are
[0026] The polariZed signals can be received at satellite
communication device 108. The satellite communication
organiZed by service provider. This impression may assist
device 108 may include one or more of the components that
Mar. 9, 2006
US 2006/0053436 A1
folloW. One component of satellite communication device
108 may be a satellite dish. A satellite dish can focus the
signal on one or more loW-noise block ?lters (LNBF), also
referred to as loW-noise block doWn converters (LNBDC).
device. One skilled in the art Would recogniZe that the tuner
device 206 may include feWer, more, or different compo
nents.
[0030] After receiving the signal 204, one of the ?rst steps
may be to demodulate 208 the signal 204. The signal 204
The LNBFs may de-polariZe and initially process the signal.
This initial processing may include ?ltering noise from the
signal and doWn-converting the signal. DoWn-conversion is
sometimes required to transmit the signal 110 through
may arrive as an analog signal that “carries” data (e.g., data
is modulated onto the analog signal). Demodulation 208
may be accomplished by reversing the modulation process.
certain cables, such as coaxial cables. The signal 110 arrives
at the television converter device 100 via cabling. One
skilled in the art Will recogniZe that other methods and other
systems of delivering the satellite signal 110 to the satellite
include amplitude modulation
or frequency modula
tion
If the carried data is digital, modulation methods
include, but are not limited to, biphase-shift keying (BPSK),
set-top-box 100 may be possible.
quadraphase-shift keying (QPSK), or eight-phase shift key
[0027]
ing (SPSK). One skilled in the art Will recogniZe that other
methods of modulating and demodulating the signal 204
A common connection to television converter
device 100 and home entertainment system 102 is a phone
line (explained beloW). HoWever, embodiments of television
converter device 100, in accordance With the present inven
tion, may not include or use a landline phone connection. In
a preferred embodiment, the television converter device 100
may instead use a Wireless antenna 112 and a Wireless device
118 that can receive or send signals 132 to a Wireless phone
toWer 134. The Wireless phone toWer 134 may relay the
signals 132 to a Wireless telecommunications netWork (not
shoWn) that may then send the signals 132 to satellite
television distributor 104. In a preferred embodiment, a
tWo-Way data-capable Wireless communication device such
as a cellular phone or similar electronics may be used for the
Wireless device 118. The Wireless device 118 may include a
data capable cellular modem or other data capable device.
TWo examples of Wireless devices 118 are the Motorola
StarTac 8600 or the Nokia 7160 cellular telephones. The
Wireless device 118 can be used by the television converter
100 to communicate With one or more of the pay-television
distributors. These communications may include requesting
pay-per-vieW programming, reporting of purchases (for
example, pay-per-vieW purchases), obtaining updates to
subscriber programming, receiving updates to softWare on
the satellite set-top-box 100. One skilled in the art Will
recogniZe that there may be other uses for this Wireless
connection. One skilled in the art Will also recogniZe that the
Modulation can be done in several Ways. Modulation may
may be possible. Another one of the ?rst steps may also be
to error check 208 signal 204. One example of error check
ing 208 is forWard error-checking. ForWard error-checking
(FEC) 208 may include, but is not limited to, inspecting
parity bit or bits that may accompany signal 204. One skilled
in the art Will recogniZe that many methods for error
checking are possible. For the purposes of discussion, an
embodiment using digital data Will be discussed beloW.
HoWever, one skilled in the art Will recogniZe that systems
With analog data or combined analog and digital data are
also possible and contemplated herein.
[0031] In this embodiment, satellite set-top-box 200 con
tains control electronics unit 202 that receives satellite signal
204. One skilled in the art Will recogniZe that control
electronics 202 may receive other signals, including, but not
limited to, signals from a cable or broadcast television
distributor. One example of a control electronics unit 202 is
the STMicroelectronics STiSS 17 LoW-Cost Interactive Set
top Box Decoder, Part No. 7424736A. In a preferred
embodiment, control electronics unit 202 includes discrete
electronic components combined into a single circuit With a
shared bus 210. In other embodiments, control electronics
unit 202 may be con?gured differently. For example, one or
more of the control electronics unit 202 components in
set-top-box 200 may be combined or omitted. The control
electronics unit 202 may use a custom ASIC, such as from
phone line (not shoWn) and the combination of the Wireless
the LSILogic G11 family, or FPGA, such as from the Altera
device 118 and antenna 112 are not mutually exclusive
StratixTM family. As a further example, one or more of the
connections to the set-top-box 100. In other embodiments,
the set-top-box 100 may include both a phone line and the
control electronics unit 202 components in set-top-box 200
combination of a Wireless device 118 and Wireless antenna
connected by some other means. One skilled in the art Will
112.
recogniZe that other con?gurations of set-top-box 200 and
[0028] FIG. 2 provides a high level block diagram for the
control electronics unit 202 are possible and Within the
scope of this invention. One skilled in the art Will further
satellite television converter device 100, 200 With DVR
functionality in accordance With the present invention.
[0029] The signal 110, 204 that arrives at the satellite set
top box 200 may undergo extensive processing. The televi
sion converter 200 may include one or more tuner devices
206 that may receive a satellite signal 204. In this embodi
ment, tuner device 206 acquires a satellite signal 204 from
satellite television distributor 104. Tuner device 206 may
initially process the satellite signal 204. Tuner device 206
may also receive subscriber commands in the form of
signals from control electronics unit 202. Signals from
control electronics unit 202 may include, but is not limited
to, a signal to tune to a transponder as part of the process of
selecting a certain channel for vieWing on a peripheral
may not share a bus 210, but may nonetheless be operatively
recogniZe that some components of set-top-box 200 and
control electronics unit 202 may be implemented in hard
Ware or softWare. The control electronics unit 202 may
operate under the control of a softWare program, ?rmWare
program, or some other program stored in memory or
control logic. One skilled in the art Will also recogniZe that
the control electronics unit 202 may include other electronic
components or structures to mediate or process signals.
[0032] Control electronics unit 202 may contain one or
more central-processing-units (CPUS) 212 or processors. A
preferred embodiment of control electronics unit 202 con
tains a single CPU 212 that is operatively connected to the
shared bus. In one embodiment, CPU 212 may be used,
among other things, for logical operations for set-top-box
Mar. 9, 2006
US 2006/0053436 A1
200 functions including, but not limited to, channel selec
encoder unit 220 may Work in combination With or inde
tion, recording control, EPG display and control and system
maintenance. Examples of commercially available CPUs
pendently from video processing unit 218. Video encoding
212 include the STMicroelectronics Enhanced ST20 32-bit
VL-RISC, Motorola 68000 or Intel Pentium processors. One
skilled in the art Will recognize that the CPU 212 may be
integrated With memory or other discrete electronics com
ponents.
[0033]
Control electronics unit 202 may also contain one
or more volatile memory components 214. Volatile memory
components 214 may include, but are not limited to, one or
more SDRAM memory chips. Similarly, control electronics
unit 202 may contain non-volatile memory components 216.
Non-volatile memory 216 may include one or more memory
chips, including, but not limited to, ROM, SRAM, SDRAM
and Flash ROM. One skilled in the art Will recogniZe that
volatile memory 214 and non-volatile memory 216 may be
integrated Within other electronics components. One skilled
in the art Will also recogniZe that other memory components
may be included Within set-top-box 200 and control elec
tronics unit 202. One skilled in the art Will recogniZe that
memory 214, 216 may be used for many purposes, includ
ing, but not limited to, storing EPG data and storing data for
unit 220 may encode digital stream 204 for output to one or
more peripheral devices, including, but not limited to, a
television. For example, video encoding unit 220 may
encode digital stream 204 for RGB, CVBS, Y/C and YUV
outputs. Encoding may alloW program data to be com
pressed. As a preferred embodiment, video encoder 220 may
translate digital stream into a signal using the NTSC, PAL or
SECAM standards. One skilled in the art Will recogniZe that
video encoder unit 220 may include other functionality, may
be integrated into other electronic components of satellite
set-top-box 200, and may encode digital stream 204 using
other standards, including, but not limited to, MPEG and
MPEG2.
[0037]
Control electronics unit 202 may also include one
or more hard drive interfaces 226 and hard drives 232. In a
preferred embodiment, television converter device 200 con
tains one hard drive interface 226 and hard drive 232. Hard
drive 232 may be used for many purposes, including, but not
limited to, storing recorded programs, buffering currently
playing programs (e.g., buffering a program may alloW a
use by CPU 212.
user to pause or reWind a program), storing EPG data,
storing commands or functions for the control electronics
[0034] In a preferred embodiment, signal 204 is in digital
unit 202, storing timers or record events, and storing data for
form (e.g., a digital stream) after demodulation and error
correction. For example, digital stream 204 may use, but is
not limited to using, the digital video broadcasting (DVB)
transport standard. The digital stream 204 may be multi
plexed and therefore require demultiplexing by XPORT
Engine 222. Demultiplexing, or demuxing, may include
separating the bits of data into separate digital data streams.
The digital streams may be packetiZed. Thus, the multiplex
ing of the separate digital data streams may not be bit-by-bit
but packet-by-packet. The packet siZe may vary or may be
constant. After demuxing 222 the packets, the separate
digital data streams may be reassembled by placing related
packets together in a continuous data stream 204.
[0035] Each of the separate digital data streams may also
be encoded. Encoding is a method for representing data.
Encoding may alloW the data to be compressed. Compres
sion can provide the system With increased bandWidth. One
skilled in the art Will recogniZe that several different encod
ing formats are possible. In satellite television, encoding
formats may include the MPEG or MPEG2 standards.
Beyond the raW data, the separate digital data streams may
include forWard error correction, headers, checksums, or
other information. All of this different information may be
other devices Within or connected to the satellite set-top-box
200. As another example, hard drive 232 may be used to
temporarily store data for processing by CPU 212. In this
example, the hard drive 232 may alloW the processor 212 to
separate EPG data arriving as part of digital stream 208. One
skilled in the art Will recogniZe that other storage devices
and interfaces may be substituted for hard drive interface
226 and hard drive 232 and are Within the scope of this
invention. One skilled in the art Will also recogniZe that hard
drive interface 226 and hard drive 232 may separately or
together include an integrated memory (e.g., a memory
buffer, commonly knoWn referred to as cache) and addi
tional processing components or logic. One skilled in the art
Will also recogniZe that hard drive interface 226 may be
integrated into peripheral interface 224 (described beloW).
Finally, one skilled in the art Will recogniZe that hard drive
232 may be external and connected to satellite set-top-box
200. For example, an external hard drive 232 may be
connected to satellite set-top-box 200 using USB 2.0 or
IEEE 1394 (FireWire) connections. Such an external hard
drive may include a screen for portable vieWing of program
ming stored on it.
that, among other video processing operations, may decode
encoded signal 204. In a preferred embodiment, video
[0038] An audio processing unit 228 may also be part of
the control electronics unit 202. Audio processing unit 228
may decode the digital stream 204 for output to peripheral
devices, including, but not limited to, a stereo, television
speakers or portable audio or video players. For example,
audio processing unit 228 may decode MPEG-1 layers MI
processing unit 218 may include, but is not limited to, a
graphics processor, MPEG-2 decoder and a display com
round encoded audio in digital stream 204. Audio processing
included in the digital television signal 204 processed by the
satellite set-top-box 100. Control electronics unit 202 may
therefore include one or more video processing units 218
and layer III, Dolby Digital, Dolby ProLogic, SRS/TruSur
positor With separate on-screen display (OSD) control for
unit 228 may include one or more processors, memory
peripheral devices. One skilled in the art Will recogniZe that
video processing unit 218 may also include other electron
components or digital to audio converter (DAC) systems.
One skilled in the art Will recogniZe that other audio pro
ics, including, but not limited to, alpha blending, antialias
cessing components and functionality may be accomplished
using audio processing unit 228.
ing, anti?utter and anti?icker ?lters, memory and video
rendering components.
[0036] Another discrete electronic component of control
electronics unit 202 may be a video encoder unit 220. Video
[0039]
A satellite set-top-box 200 may be connected to
one or more peripheral electronic devices through peripheral
interface 224. These peripheral devices may include a stereo
US 2006/0053436 A1
Mar. 9, 2006
(not shown), television 230, smart card 236, VCR (not
trol interface may receive commands from one or more
shown), or other devices. In a preferred embodiment, home
entertainment system 102 minimally contains, but is not
infrared, UHF, or other communications technology. The
limited to, a television 230 and smart card 236. Television
230 may serve many purposes, including, but not limited to,
remote control interface may therefore translate an input
from the user into a format understandable by the control
different remote controls 234. Remote control 234 may use
displaying television programming, displaying the EPG,
electronics unit 202. The translation systems may include,
displaying timer con?icts, and displaying other types of
data, graphics and programming. Peripheral devices may
receive and/or send signals from the satellite set-top-box
but are not limited to, electronic receivers and electronic
200. For instance, the television 230 may receive video and
audio signals and a stereo may receive only audio signals. A
camcorder (not shoWn), on the other hand, may send video
or audio signals to the satellite set-top-box 100 or receive
audio and video signals from the set-top-box to record. As
another example, peripheral interface 224 may include a
[0042] Another peripheral device and connection to the
satellite set-top-box 200 may include a phone line (not
processor or other electronic components to permit an
interface to content security devices such as an external
“smart card.” In this example, peripheral interface 224 may
then encrypt or decrypt content for output to other peripheral
devices. Thus, peripheral interface 224 may perform one or
more functions for multiple peripheral devices, including,
relays. One skilled in the art Will recogniZe that other means
to receive and translate user inputs are possible.
shoWn) and modem (not shoWn). Set-top-box 200 may use
a modem and phone line to communicate With one or more
outside entities or systems (e.g., satellite television distribu
tor 104). The phone line may carry local or long-distance
telephone service. One skilled in the art Will recogniZe that
the phone line may also carry other services, including, but
not limited to, DSL service. These communications may
include requesting pay-per-vieW programming, obtaining
updates to subscriber programming (e.g., updating EPG
content using a smart card peripheral device and outputting
data), or receiving updates to softWare on the satellite
set-top-box 200. For example, the phone line may commu
nicate With the satellite set-top-box 200 using an R] -11 style
telephone connection. One skilled in the art Will recogniZe
decrypted content to a television at the same time). One
that there are many other uses for this phone line connection.
but not limited to, the synchronous or asynchronous transfer
of data betWeen different peripheral devices (e.g., decrypting
skilled in the art Will recogniZe that the peripheral devices
may include many types of commercially available elec
tronic devices.
[0040] The home entertainment system 102 may also
include a remote control 126, 234 peripheral device, also
sometimes referred to as a remote. The remote control 234
For example, EPG data may be transmitted to set-top-box
200 via phone line or in the satellite signal 204. One skilled
in the art Will recogniZe that the EPG data may be trans
mitted to set-top-box 200 by various other methods, systems
and outside entities. Also, one skilled in the art Will recog
niZe that a phone line connection to satellite distributor 104
may be used to send commands to the satellite set-top-box
may represent other communication connections, including,
200. The remote control 234 may send commands via a
but not limited to, Wireless, Internet, or microWave commu
Wireless connection using, for example, infrared or UHF
transmitters Within the remote control 234. One example of
nications connections. Another function of the phone line
may be to periodically receive the EPG data.
an embodiment of a remote controller 234 is the EchoStar
Technologies Corporation 721 Platinum Plus Remote, Part
Number 121150, that includes an IR transmitter and an ultra
high frequency (UHF) transmitter. The remote control 234
may be able to send signals to other peripheral electronic
devices that form part of the home entertainment system
102, including, but not limited to, a television, stereo, VCR,
or DVD player. The set-top-box 200 may also be able to
send signals to the remote control 234, including, but not
limited to, signals to con?gure the remote control 234 to
operate other peripheral devices in home entertainment
system 102. In some embodiments, the remote control 234
has a set of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Some remote
controls may include Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) or
other screens. The remote control may include buttons, dials,
or other man-machine interfaces. While the remote control
234 may often be the common means for a subscriber to
communicate With the satellite set-top-box 200, one skilled
in the art Will recogniZe that other means of communicating
With the set-top-box 200 are available, including, but not
limited to attached keyboards, front panel buttons or touch
screens.
[0041] The satellite set-top-box 200 may also include a
remote control interface (not shoWn). A remote control
interface may include any means for the user to communi
cate to the satellite set-top-box 200, and may be imple
mented using the peripheral interface 224 of control elec
tronics unit 202 or by connecting a peripheral remote control
interface device. In a preferred embodiment, a remote con
[0043] The peripheral interface 224 of satellite set-top-box
200, in accordance With the present invention, includes a
Wireless phone interface 238. One skilled in the art Will
recogniZe that the Wireless phone interface 238 may be
embodied in hardWare or softWare. One skilled in the art Will
also recogniZe that the Wireless phone interface 238 may be
integrated With another component or components of the
satellite set-top-box 200. In this embodiment, the satellite
set-top-box 200 includes a Wireless phone interface 238 to
communicate With a Wireless phone device 240 that is
externally connected to satellite set-top-box 200. In other
embodiments, the Wireless phone interface 238 may include
connections to one or more Wireless phone devices 240 that
are integrated Within television converter device 200. The
Wireless phone interface 238 may transmit signals in DiS
eqC protocol to the Wireless phone device 240. One skilled
in the art Will recogniZe that other protocols are possible for
device communication With a Wireless phone device 240.
The Wireless phone device 240 may need to translate the
DiSeqC protocol messages into a Wireless transmission
protocol. Wireless transmission protocols may include, but
are not limited to, Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS),
Advanced Radio Data Information Service (ARDIS), Code
Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Cellular Digital Packet
Data (CDPD), Digital Advanced Mobile Phone System
(D-AMPS), Frequency Division Multiple Access (FDMA),
Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), Mobi
tex, Personal Communications Services (PCS), RAM
Mobile Data, ReFLEX, Short Message Service (SMS), or
Mar. 9, 2006
US 2006/0053436 A1
Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA). One skilled in the
art Will recognize that other Wireless transmission protocols
television distributor in accordance With the present inven
tion. For example, a subscriber may send pay-per-vieW
are possible. A person skilled in the art Will also recognize
requests or other information to a pay television distributor.
that the Wireless phone device 240 may perform other
Pay television distributors, as discussed earlier, may include,
functions.
but are not limited to, cable or satellite television distribu
tors. In this embodiment, the television converter at a
[0044] FIGS. 3-5 all relate to the physical mounting of the
Wireless phone device 314 and antenna 316. A typical
satellite communications device 108 may include some or
all of the components in FIGS. 3-5. These components may
include a satellite dish 306 and a feedhorn 308 mounted on
a mast 310. The mast 310 can be mounted to the structure of
the subscriber’s home or business (not shoWn). The feedhorn
308 holds the loW-noise block ?lter (LNBF) 312. A cable
318 functions as the communications pathWay betWeen the
LNBF 312 and the satellite set-top-box 302. In the embodi
ment, the satellite set-top-box 302 resides inside the sub
scriber’s home or business While the other parts are outside
the structure. This separation of the components is repre
sented by the dotted line 304.
[0045] The Wireless antenna 316 and Wireless device 314
may be mounted or housed in several Ways. One possibility
is shoWn in FIG. 3. In this con?guration, the Wireless device
314 is housed at LNBF 312. The casing of the LNBF 312
protects both the electronics for the LNBF 312 and the
Wireless device 314. Some embodiments may have the
subscriber location receives and decodes 602 television
content. Signal processing devices for receiving and decod
ing television content may include, but are not limited to,
demodulators, decoders, demultiplexers, data packet selec
tors and conditional access processing. One skilled in the art
Will recogniZe that other devices, structures or techniques for
receiving and decoding television content are possible. The
television converter then collects 604 information to send to
the pay television distributor. Information collected 604 at
the television converter may include, but is not limited to,
pay-per-vieW requests, account information or requests to
change service. One skilled in the art Will also recogniZe that
information may contain non-television content, including,
but not limited to, television converter usage data. Collected
information 604 is stored 606 in memory at the television
converter. One skilled in the art Will recogniZe that memory
may include, but is not limited to, RAM, ROM, magnetic,
optical, removable or other storage devices. The collected
information 604 is then Wirelessly transmitted 608 from the
television converter to a pay television distributor via one or
Wireless device 314 and the LNBF 312 as an integrated set
more communications netWorks. One skilled in the art Will
of electronics, While other embodiments may separate the
recogniZe that many communications netWorks are possible,
electronics. The Wireless antenna 316 in this embodiment is
mounted at LNBF 312. This con?guration of the antenna
316 may require little additional cabling to connect the
antenna to the satellite set-top-box. One skilled in the art Will
recogniZe that the antenna 316 may be mounted in other
places, either on other components or someWhere else on the
subscriber’s structure. For example, the antenna 316 may be
mounted Within the structure housing the LNBF 312.
including, but not limited to, Wireless phone netWorks,
sWitched phone netWorks, cable netWorks, the Internet and
proprietary data netWorks.
[0049] Some information may originate from the pay
television distributor. In another embodiment, correspond
ing to FIG. 7, the television converter 100 may receive
information sent to the subscriber by the pay television
distributor. Information may include, but is not limited to,
[0046] A second con?guration is shoWn in FIG. 4. Here,
softWare updates, changes in service, account information,
the Wireless device 414 is again housed at LNBF 412.
responses to pay-per-vieW requests or various other data.
HoWever, the antenna 416 is noW mounted at the mast 410
Pay television distributors may send information to one or
more Wireless phone numbers or knoWn Wireless devices.
Information from pay television distributors is transmitted
702 through a communications netWork to a Wireless net
Work. The information transmitted to a Wireless netWork 702
may then be transmitted 704 to the Wireless antenna. One
rather than the LNBF 412. This situation may alloW the
antenna 416 to obtain a better positioning for sending and
receiving signals. A cable 417 may be used to send the
Wireless signals from the separated antenna 416 to the
Wireless device 414. One skilled in the art Will recogniZe that
cable 417 may be housed in or along mast 410.
[0047] Another con?guration is shoWn in FIG. 5. The
Wireless device 514 and the antenna 516 may be housed
betWeen the LNBF 512 and the satellite set-top-box 502.
Since the system may be preexisting, it may not be possible
to place the Wireless device 514 in the housing With the
LNBF 512. Thus, an external installation may be required.
Using the existing cabling, the Wireless device 514 may be
placed in the circuit With the satellite set-top-box 502 and the
LNBF 512. No further Wiring may need to be installed. The
Wireless device 514 may then send Wireless signals and relay
any communications betWeen the LNBF 512 and the satel
lite set-top-box 502. In another embodiment, this con?gu
ration may have a Wireless antenna 516 located separate
from the Wireless device 514. One skilled in the art Will
recogniZe other techniques for mounting and installing the
Wireless device 514 and antenna 516.
[0048]
FIG. 6 shoWs one embodiment of a method for
providing information from a television converter to a pay
skilled in the art Will recogniZe that the information trans
mitted from the pay television distributor to the subscriber
may be encoded, converted, processed, transformed and
translated by different communications and signaling pro
tocols.
[0050]
The Wireless antenna receives and relays 706 the
information to the Wireless device. The information received
and relayed 706 by the Wireless antenna may be in the form
of a signal that is analog, digital or some combination
thereof. This information signal may be encoded and require
processing by the Wireless device prior to delivery to the
television converter 100. The Wireless device then processes
or translates 708 the information signal using some Wireless
signal protocol. These Wireless signal protocols may
include, but are not limited to, 802.11, WiMAX, AMPS,
ARDIS, CDMA, CDPD, D-AMPS, FDMA, GSM, Mobitex,
PCS, RAM Mobile Data, ReFLEX, SMS, or TDMA. The
Wireless device may also translate the signal into DiSeqC or
another similar protocol. The Wireless device then sends 710
the information to the television converter 100. The televi
Mar. 9, 2006
US 2006/0053436 A1
sion converter 100 can then process 712 the information.
One skilled in the art Will recognize that other structures or
techniques for communicating With a Wireless device are
possible.
[0051] As is evident from the embodiments of FIGS. 6
and 7, a tWo-Way communications pathWay may be possible
betWeen the subscriber and pay television distributor. One
skilled in the art Will recognize that other structures or
techniques for communicating With a distributor are pos
sible.
[0052] FIG. 8 shoWs another embodiment of a home
entertainment system 802 With an attached telephone base
station 836. The components and structures described in the
embodiment described in FIG. 8 depart from the embodi
ment described in FIG. 1 only insofar as the addition of an
attached telephone base station 836 and short-range mobile
phone 838. A telephone base station 836 is attached to the
satellite set-top-boX 100, 800 to permit use of a home
telephone system With the Wireless device 818 and Wireless
antenna 812. In this embodiment, a short-range mobile
phone 838 is Wirelessly connected to the base station. In an
alternative embodiment (not shoWn), a traditional corded
2. A method for providing information from a television
converter to a pay television distributor according to claim
1 Wherein said information relates to pay-per-vieW pur
chases obtained by a subscriber through said television
converter.
3. A method for providing information from a television
converter to a pay television distributor according to claim
1 Wherein said Wireless transmitter transmits to a receiver in
a Wireless phone netWork.
4. A method for providing information from a television
converter to a pay television distributor according to claim
3 Wherein said Wireless phone netWork is a cellular phone
netWork.
5. A method for providing information from a television
converter to a pay television distributor according to claim
3 Wherein the information is transmitted to said television
distributor via said Wireless phone netWork.
6. A method for providing information from a television
converter to a pay television distributor according to claim
3 further comprising the steps of receiving telephone com
munications from a ?rst telephone at said television con
verter and forWarding said telephone communications from
said ?rst telephone to a second telephone via said Wireless
telephone (not shoWn) and a phone line (not shoWn) may be
phone netWork.
used in place of or in combination With the short-range
mobile phone 838 and telephone base station 836. The
mobile phone 838 may be any type of cordless or portable
phone transmitting on several frequencies such as 900 MHZ
converter to a pay televisions distributor according to claim
6 Wherein said television converter receives telephone com
or 2.4 GHZ. One skilled in the art Will recogniZe that other
cordless phone transmission frequencies are possible. One
skilled in the art Will also recogniZe that other types of
7. A method for providing information from a television
munications from said second telephone over said Wireless
phone netWork and forWards said telephone communica
tions from said second telephone to said ?rst telephone.
8. A method for providing information from a television
landline phones or customer premises equipment (CPE) may
be used With the satellite set-top-boX.
converter to a pay television distributor according to claim
[0053]
non-television content information from said television dis
The mobile phone 838 can transmit the telephone
1 further comprising said television converter receiving
signal to the base station 836. The base station 836 may act
tributor Wirelessly.
as a relay. After receiving the telephone signal, the base
station 836 may send the signal to the satellite set-top-boX
800. The base station 836 may communicate With the
converter to a pay television distributor according to claim
8 Wherein said non-television content information from said
satellite set-top-boX 800, for example, using an RJ-11 style
telephone connection. The satellite set-top-boX 800 may
send the telephone signal to the Wireless device 818 and
Wireless antennae 812 for transmission, for eXample,
through the Wireless netWork to the Public SWitched Tele
phone NetWork (PSTN). Thus, the Wireless device 818 may
be used for data and voice transmissions. In another embodi
ment, the base station 836 may send the telephone signal
directly to the Wireless device 818. In this Way, the satellite
set-top-boX 800 may be bypassed. One skilled in the art Will
recogniZe other methods for attaching the base station 836 or
local telephone to the system.
We claim:
1. A method for providing information from a television
converter to a pay television distributor comprising:
a. receiving and decoding television content at said tele
vision converter
b. collecting said information at said television converter;
c. storing said information in memory associated With
said television converter; and,
9. A method for providing information from a television
television distributor is received in a communication path
Which is distinct from the path Which is used to receive
television content by the television converter.
10. Asubscriber television converter apparatus for receiv
ing, decoding and displaying pay television content com
prising:
a. a demodulator for demodulating said television content
off of a carrier;
b. a decoder coupled to said demodulator for decoding
said television content demodulated off of said carrier;
c. an encoder for encoding said television content for
display on a television display device;
d. a conditional access module coupled to said television
converter Which alloWs access to television content
Which the subscriber is authoriZed to receive;
e. memory for storing information in said television
converter;
f. a Wireless transmitter coupled to said memory to
transmit at least some of said stored information.
11. A subscriber television converter apparatus for receiv
less transmitter associated With said television con
ing, decoding and displaying pay television content accord
ing to claim 10 Wherein said Wireless transmitter is adapted
verter.
to transmit information to a Wireless phone netWork.
d. transmitting said information Wirelessly from a Wire
Mar. 9, 2006
US 2006/0053436 A1
12. Asubscriber television converter apparatus for receiv
ing, decoding and displaying pay television content accord
ing to claim 11 Wherein said Wireless transmitter is adapted
to transmit information to a cellular phone netWork.
13. Asubscriber television converter apparatus for receiv
ing, decoding and displaying pay television content accord
ing to claim 11 further comprising a Wireless receiver to
receive information from said Wireless phone netWork.
14. Asubscriber television converter apparatus for receiv
ing, decoding and displaying pay television content accord
ing to claim 13 further comprising an interface adapted to
transmit information received from said Wireless telephone
netWork to a telephone coupled to said television converter
and to receive information from said telephone and relay
such information to said Wireless telephone netWork.
15. Asubscriber television converter apparatus for receiv
ing, decoding and displaying pay television content accord
ing to claim 11 further comprising:
a. a satellite antenna for receiving said pay television
content from a satellite transrnission;
b. an antenna coupled to said Wireless transmitter for
transmitting said information to said Wireless phone
netWork.
16. Asubscriber television converter apparatus for receiv
ing, decoding and displaying pay television content accord
ing to claim 15 further Wherein said antenna coupled to said
Wireless transmitter is mechanically coupled to said satellite
antenna.
17. Asubscriber television converter apparatus for receiv
ing, decoding and displaying pay television content accord
ing to claim 16 further comprising a loW noise block doWn
converter rnechanically coupled to said satellite antenna
Wherein said antenna coupled to said Wireless transmitter is
housed at said loW noise block doWn converter.
18. Asubscriber television converter apparatus for receiv
ing, decoding and displaying pay television content accord
ing to claim 17 Wherein the loW noise block doWn converter
and the antenna coupled to said Wireless transrnitter are
housed Within a single housing.
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