Can you share a satellite dish with a neighbor?

Sort of yes, but…

The rules concerning DIRECTV are actually sort of vague. In an effort to keep their customer agreement to a reasonable length, it doesn’t cover every possible eventuality. Their Customer Agreement doesn’t really cover the issue of dishes at all. Yet, there seems like there’s something not quite right about sharing a dish with your next door neighbor.

If you live in an apartment, you could be sharing a dish right now with DIRECTV’s express consent. DIRECTV actually prefers having one dish per building rather than having everyone put a dish on their patios. It makes for a cleaner installation with fewer service calls. When you get to the point where you’re sharing a dish between buildings though, the technicians start to get a little squirrely.

Most cities and towns won’t let you string a wire carrying signal across any real distance. That means to share a DIRECTV dish you would have to bury the cable and let’s be honest, burial-grade cable is more expensive than a new dish. So right there if you’re going to do it right, you’re actually losing money on sharing a dish.

More importantly, the one thing you must never do is share programming or have two different accounts visible to each other. So right away, you should never, ever be giving a receiver to a neighbor and running a cable to your home DIRECTV system. That is definitely against the rules and it’s likely to get you in trouble. But if your neighbor has his own account, sharing the dish is probably ok, except that you need to make sure that your equipment and their equipment are completely isolated. That means putting filters between the two or possibly even using two different multiswitches. DIRECTV receivers that are connected by internet or phone line will report everything about the other receivers around them and if they see a receiver that’s on a different account they’ll report it and before you can say “fraud squad” both you and your neighbor will miss out on service and possibly have a lawsuit against you.

You see, sharing a dish or giving a receiver to a family member may seem like they are harmless, but DIRECTV tends to use words like “theft of service” to describe what you’re doing. We absolutely don’t support doing anything like that and whenever we have the opportunity, we’re going to guide you toward the DIRECTV-approved method of installation. It’s not just a matter of legal stuff, it’s also that you could find that your service becomes less stable and you’ll spend more time tinkering with it and less time enjoying it. Well, you may enjoy the tinkering, but think for a second… does everyone else in your household feel the same way?

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.