Can you get a SWM signal 500 feet without using fiber?

If you have a mansion and somehow you’re still a DIYer and I’m thinking there are maybe 5 of you out there, you’ve probably already read this article about extending your DIRECTV signal. You’ve probably already become familiar with this article showing the little amplifier that can help you get just a little more distance as long as you sacrifice some functionality. But what about a 500-foot run?

Sorry folks, you can’t do it, not with coax anyway. You could spend a lot of money on fiber and do it that way, but you can’t do it with coax because of a special characteristic of SWM transmission. With other signals that travel down a coaxial cable, you can keep adding amplifiers as you go along because the signal travels only one way. (After all, you can’t send a signal up to the sky using your satellite dish.) SWM signals travel two ways. There’s a separate control signal at 2.3MHz that controls which content travels back down the wire. The 2.3MHz frequency means that the signal is much less likely to get signal loss than a higher-frequency one, but eventually it does peter out.

While at one time DIRECTV did have an amplifier specifically designed to keep this signal going, that amplifier simply wasn’t popular enough to keep it working, and it doesn’t at all address the other “upstream” signal used in SWM, the whole-home signal that lets you share programs and use Genie clients. There’s no two-way amp that handles the 475-625Mhz frequencies used in whole-home and so therefore when that signal fades, you lose the ability to do those whole-home tricks. That tends to be after about 350-400 cable feet between receivers (meaning a 200 foot run for each line from the splitter for example.)

What can you do? The easiest solution is just to put another dish up. There’s no limit to the number of dishes you can use, and while this does limit the ability to share programs, it gives you access to everything else and it’s a lot easier than trying to keep the signal intact over 500 feet.

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 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.