On July 1, 1998, DIRECTV will become the first national broadcaster to deliver programming with 5.1 channel Dolby Digital surround sound. The introduction of Dolby Digital surround sound on DIRECTV coincides with Thomson's rollout of the new RCA-brand DS5451RB DSS system featuring a Dolby Digital enabled receiver. To experience Dolby Digital 5.1 channel surround sound, DIRECTV subscribers must own the new RCA-brand DSS receiver and a Dolby Digital decoder/amplifier with a six speaker home theater system. Initially, DIRECTV will offer selected DIRECT TICKET pay-per-view movies with Dolby Digital sound. All Dolby Digital movies on DIRECTV will also include the existing stereo track that can be used to be produce surround sound using Dolby ProLogic receivers.
Better price, more channels, better equipment manufactures - What more can I say. Do your own comparisons.
2-way satellite requires a transciever. Current Dbs receivers are receive only because it is much more expensive to include a transmit circuit at the required power to hit the Satellite 10 miles from the earth's surface. Your cell phone is a transceiver, but it is talking to a repeater(transmitter/antenna assembly) that greatly amplifies the signal. Also, the frequency used for cell phones is much more conducive to 2way. The long and the short is, yes it can be done, but it is cheaper to attain similar bandwidth 2way comm via cable.
On the other hand, current dbs internet units use tel. line to send data, and since you normaly receive much more data than you send, it is much faster than tel. modem. That's as much as I know...If Gates is interested in satellite, it is probably to keep himself covered if the dbs market really takes off.