It has been stated that Dish wishes to shutdown the wing satellites. I have not seen any actual statements from Dish officials to that effect.
For Dish to shutdown 61.5, they need to migrate ALL their International channel customers (among other things, which are not discussed here) to a new satellite. If I remember correctly, it was the August Tech Chat where it was mentioned that future international channels will go to 121 (E*9 satellite).
So Dish is obviously hoping to entice customers to sign up for the SuperDish (121 version) to get the "new" international channels (and probably old as well) while trading in their 61.5 dish. Presumably, there will be some cost associated with this, and Dish will probably try to get customers to sign up for a 1 year minimum on some package combo to finance it.
Presumably, at some point, Dish will have convinced ALL the international subscribers to migrate (while "sharing" the cost) and will not have to fund swap outs for non-converted customers prior to shutting off 61.5.
What is not clear about all this is 1) the timeframe (although it is probably on the order of 12 to 24 months after 121 goes online for customers), and 2) how the SuperDish will work for customers of both International channels (121) and HD (or selected local channels) (105).
All the above is predicated on the statement that Dish really wants to stop use of 61.5 (and 148?) for home DBS service. I am not yet convinced that is the case, although others who actually talk to Echostar executives may know something I don't.....
I find it hard to belive that E* wants to shut down the wing satellites, yes their will be new Internationals on 121, but I do not beleive that E* will go to the trouble and expense to relocate all of the current Internationals to 121. HDTV of course will move to 105, however 105 I do not beleive can be seen in AK or HI, I would not be suprised to see HD Channels left on and duplicated on 148 and 157 for AK and HI since E* owns 35 TP's their. I beleive locals however left on 61.5 and 148 will eventualy be moved to the new Spotbeam E10 at 110 when this satellite is launched in 05, if anything their will be additional Internationals added to the wings because of this.
Actually, according to SES-Americom, AMC-2 at 105 can be seen in Hawaii.
And AMC-15, launching next year to replace AMC-2, will be usable from both Alaska and Hawaii
although Alaska is really on the edge, with the satellite really low on the horizon. (Again, according to SES-Americom....)
However, I think you are right. There is a lot Dish is not speaking about, and we do not know what their future plans are. They may not either, or they may just be being coy about it all.
Echostar owns the rights to 11 transponder frequencies at 61.5 [Evens, 2-22]. Dominion, parent of Sky Angel, owns the rights to 8 transponder frequencies [25-32].
Dominion leases 8 transponders from Echostar. Echostar then subleases (back) 6 transponders [26-31]. So Dominion uses 2 transponders [25, 32] at 61.5, and Echostar uses/can use 17 transponders at 61.5. (Actually, the number is 19, because E* is currently allowed to use 23 and 24 as well.)
Cablevision (Rainbow DBS a.k.a. VOOM) owns rights to 11 transponder frequencies at 61.5 [odds, 1-21]. Two transponder frequencies at 61.5 have not been assigned by the FCC [23,24]. During the D*/E* merger discussions, Cablevision proposed to the FCC that E* have to relinquish it's 61.5 frequencies (including those leased from Dominion) to Cablevision in exchange for merger approval. Obviously, that proposal went nowhere.