For a decade, the LNB pictured above was the standard for DIRECTV customers. Called the Slimline-5, it received signals from five different satellite locations. You might notice that this LNB is no longer available for sale at Solid Signal. You can occasionally find one on an auction site, but that’s about it. What happened?
Why there were five satellite locations
At one time there were really seven satellite locations for DIRECTV service. Two of them were used exclusively for international programming. The first of them was at roughly 101 degrees longitude. This satellite location originally contained all DIRECTV programming, spread over multiple satellites. However, that satellite location, being prime real estate, got pretty crowded, pretty quickly. In the 2000s, DIRECTV launched satellites that settled into positions at roughly 110 degrees and 119 degrees longitude. This allowed for more expansion into high definition.
However, those satellites are pretty far to the west and that wasn’t a perfect option for a service that wanted to serve everyone from coast to coast (and in Alaska and Hawaii.) DIRECTV got licenses to launch satellites in the 99 degrees and 103 degrees longitude locations. Because these satellites would be more centrally located, it would be easier for dishes to get strong signals.
And then everything got consolidated.
Having seven locations didn’t really work well for DIRECTV, not for its installers or for its customers. So, they hatched a plan. First, they developed the largest communications satellites ever put into space. Over the course of ten years, these satellites went into place in the 99, 101, and 103 locations. At the same time, the 110 satellite was decommissioned for general US use. The satellite at 72.5 degrees was decommissioned, and the satellite at 95 degrees followed eventually.
Over the course of the last five years, DIRECTV has removed nearly all the programming from the satellite at the 119 location. That satellite is now in an end-of-life period. Right now all you will find on it are standard definition channels for a few markets.
The new hotness
DIRECTV’s Reverse-Band enabled Slimline-3 LNB is the only LNB recommended for new satellite TV installs. It can get standard definition, high definition, and 4K broadcasts from the 99, 101, and 103 locations. Since all international programming has moved to those locations as well, it’s the only LNB you’ll need.
This LNB is easier to install since it only points at three locations, not five.
What can you do if you really do need the 119 location?
You do have some options if you really do need to point at the 119 location. As I write this, Solid Signal still has good stock on the Slimline-5 SWM-enabled LNB. You can also use the Legacy Reverse Band Slimline 5 LNB. The Legacy Reverse Band Slimline 5 LNB works in commercial situations. It requires a bit more wiring, but it’s much more flexible.
Most customers will not need to look at the satellite at the 119 location. At some point DIRECTV will decommission that satellite completely. If you’re still using a very old system and haven’t upgraded though, it’s nice to know that there are options.