SOUND OFF: Are guide data outages more frequent?

OK, Solid Signal Faithful, let’s talk.

This article has been getting a lot of play lately. In fact, it’s moved up to the top of our “most-read” list for the last 90 days. My guess is, something’s going on.

We know AT&T is moving away from the 119 satellite.

Although we all thought it would happen sooner, there’s no question that the satellite at the 119 location is going away. All HD and national programming has already moved off it, and the only thing left are some standard-definition locals that will just be turned off at some point. That is still very likely to be in the next 6-12 months.

However, customers with Slimline-5 dishes can also get guide data from the 119 satellite, and if something’s going on with the way that data is delivered, then that might be the cause of the problem.

Luckily, that sort of thing can be solved in software. AT&T still actively supports models H24, H25, HR44, HR54, and HS17 (Genie 2) plus all clients. It’s possible that reports of missing guide data is coming from people with older receivers.

We know there is a lot of older hardware out there.

It’s great that DIRECTV hardware is so reliable, but it does mean that there are a lot of older receivers out there. There’s a special tuner chip inside every DIRECTV receiver that does nothing but process guide data. It’s possible that the increase in guide data problems has something to do with older receivers just wearing out.

It could be due to seasonal increases in RV users.

RV users with satellite dishes may experience issues with guide data depending on the hardware. Traditionally, these systems mimic an older Phase III dish which gets guide data from the 119 satellite. Even if that satellite is still functioning, the dish itself needs to be pointed to the 119 satellite for a period of time to get guide data. Since there is basically no national programming on that satellite, the odds that you would be doing that anyway are zero. If you’re in an RV with a guide data issue, try changing your dish type to 18″ Round instead of Phase III (also called 3-LNB or 18×20). This fixes the problem in some installations.

You tell me.

If you’re having guide data issues, especially if all your channels say “Information Not Available” or “To Be Announced,” leave a comment below. Tell me what kind of system you have, with as much detail as you think you can. I’ll pass it along to AT&T’s Engineering group, as I know a person over there.