DIRECTV Retires Another Satellite

It appears from observation of received signals that DirecTV has shut down the DirecTV 7S satellite at 119 West longitude on November 19, 2020.  This only affects customers with old Standard Definition (SD) only receivers in some local markets, who have had to call DirecTV to have a free equipment upgrade installed.   The upgrade to HD capable dishes and receivers allowed them to receive their local channels and foreign language channels from satellites at 99W and 103W.   DirecTV has been sending mailed notices and on-screen alerts for this process for months now, and the affected channels were already shut down earlier in November.   DirecTV has not allowed activation of new SD only installations for years.  If a customer wanted to keep their old SD only TV, the replacement receiver could provide a down converted output from the HD signal.

DirecTV indicated in FCC filings in August 2020 that D7S had reached the end of its useful life, and it would be raised to a disposal orbit by the end of 2020.

D7S had 44 spot beam transponders for local SD stations, using 4 different frequencies.   Each spot beam covered only a small part of the US, so they reused the same frequency multiple times across the country, without interference.   At the beginning of 2020 it was providing SD duplicates of local channels to 49 different local markets.   It also had 7 nationwide (lower 48 only) transponders.  Overall, it was transmitting 434 video channels and 16 Music Choice channels.   The Spanish and Chinese language channels on the national transponders were moved to other satellites, and customer equipment was upgraded as necessary.   The Music Choice channels were also moved to other satellites.

DirecTV 8 (D8 or T8) was an in-orbit spare at 101W after DirecTV activated its new T16 satellite at 101.  T8 was moved over the past few months to 119W.  Using its 11 nationwide transponders licensed for use at 119, it continues to provide SD duplicates of local channels to 18 remaining local markets.

About the Author

Tom Speer
Tom Speer Is an Electrical Engineer with 40 years of experience applying computers to engineering problems in the Electric Power industry, including real time monitoring and control of the power system, data collection and communication, simulation, and economics. He has had extensive experience in data communication system design, monitoring and analysis. In retirement he has taught himself programming in Python, after being away from programming for decades, in order to assist his team members at in analyzing DirecTV’ systems on an ongoing basis, and DTV’s filings with the FCC. The rest of the time, he spends his time exploring the Adirondack mountains and coastal North Carolina on foot and canoe with his wife, Pam.