When I taught you about DIRECTV SWM

Back in 2015, DIRECTV’s SWM technology was pretty established, but for marine and RV customers it was just starting to reach its peak. So, I published a series of articles which I called “SWM 101.” The goal was to introduce marine and RV users to the technology, because mandatory upgrades were just on the horizon.

Learn more about SWM

In the first article, I gave a general overview. I got a lot of heat for comparing SWM to a modulated system but over the years several people have told me it really helped explain SWM to them. The second article explained the rationale behind the then-top-of-the-line SWM16. And, the third article explained the basics of the whole-home system DIRECTV had been developing for several years at that point. Finally, a fourth article explained why SWM needed something called a “return path.”

SWM in the five years after that

SWM wasn’t done evolving in 2015. In the years after, SWM technology was upgraded to allow for more powerful multiswitches and more tuners per line. The original goal was to let SWM technology provide better service in apartments. Later, the most modern SWM technology was built into the dishes themselves so that about 98% of home installations could use DIRECTV satellite service without an external multiswitch.

SWM for marine installations

While SWM technology works perfectly in RVs, marine customers have had a harder time embracing it. The distance limitation of 150 cable-feet is harder to deal with when you’re snaking cables here, there, and everywhere. Also, for world travelers it’s frustrating to have two different wiring schemes because DIRECTV SWM is completely incompatible with every other system in the world.

The solution

For marine customers, the venerable H24 receiver is often the way to go. It’s not new technology, to be sure. The H24 first came out in 2010, back when this review looked cool and contemporary.  It’s been DIRECTV’s “go-to” receiver since then, because of its flexibility. It’s a tough old bird, too; even though the last one rolled off the assembly line over eight years ago, there are still millions in service and they work well for new customers after going through a typically extensive refurbishment process.

The H24 is the only piece of hardware from AT&T that will work with a non-SWM system at this point. For residential customers, SWM has been the only real option since the late 2010s, but marine customers are a different story of course. The H24 is a real life saver when you’re traveling the open ocean. It works with older marine satellite systems and coexists well with receivers from other countries. Often times an enterprising sailor won’t have to do anything but plug in a different receiver and push a button or two in order to get satellite TV service from another country.

The future of SWM technology

SWM Technology is pretty mature at this point. I don’t see a lot of changes being made. It’s already flexible enough to handle the simplest home installation or the most complex commercial one. It’s true that DIRECTV Satellite isn’t the super cutting-edge, boundary-pushing technology it once was, but it’s stable, it works, and it continues to be the choice of tens of millions of customers. Sounds good to me.



About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.