Can you take your DIRECTV receiver outside your local area?

If you’ve just spent a lot of time at home, you might be anxious to enjoy a different view out the window. Autumn’s coming and that means pretty soon, a whole lot of people will be looking to winter homes, whether in remote cabins or sunnier climates.

Does leaving home mean leaving your DIRECTV equipment behind? It’s a question that many folks ask as they climb into RVs and boats year-round. A lot more ask it in the fall and spring as they begin to explore the possibility of a seasonal home.

AT&T’s answer: “Wellllll……”

AT&T’s own customer agreement is very vague when it comes to the question of moving your receiver from one place to another. It’s always been a little confusing. They do definitely say that you can put a satellite receiver in your RV, and it’s also very clear that you can’t operate the equipment from two different places at the same time. They tell you that you have to inform them of changes to your service address, and that’s probably the most telling indication that they really don’t want you moving the receiver from place to place.

There’s something more to consider

But let’s leave all that contract stuff behind for a moment and talk about the technical side of the equation. The most obvious problem when you take your receiver far outside your local area is that you’ll lose your local channels. DIRECTV puts local channels on what are called “spot beams.” That means the satellite signal only reaches a small area. If you leave that area, you will lose reception and you won’t have local channels. Unless you tell DIRECTV that your receiver has moved, you won’t get local channels where you are; you’ll just get that “771-Searching for signal” message.

How can you deal with this?

There are three great options available to you. The first is simply using the free DIRECTV app for phones and tablets. It will hook up to a TV and give you over 125 channels of live TV, access to most of your recordings, and tens of thousands of on-demand programs. This is often the best solution for short-term travel. It’s even better for folks with AT&T phones, since with many plans you don’t even pay to stream DIRECTV content. (If you’re not sure if you qualify, call us at 888-233-7563 and we’ll tell you.)

Another option is to have multiple accounts. You can suspend your service for up to six months on an account. So if you have a winter home and a summer home, two accounts will let you have local channels in each location and simply suspend service at the home you’re not using. Depending on your plans, you may end up double-paying one month or so, but that’s not a big deal. Our Signal Connect reps can help with that… again the number is 888-233-7563.

Option three is to use an antenna to get local channels. When you use an over-the-air antenna, you’ll generally get more local channels than you would with DIRECTV service alone, and they’re all free. Shop for the antenna that suits you best at, and once it’s installed, you’ll get the best quality TV signal and you won’t pay a dime for it.

Isn’t there a way to get New York or Los Angeles locals and just not worry about it?

For decades, there was. However, the law that allowed this expired in 2020 and was not renewed. So, AT&T is prohibited from offering this service to customers. If you happen to actually live in one of these markets, you’ll find that your local channels will come in practically anywhere in the continental US, at least for now. That could change at any moment. But, don’t think of pretending you live in one of those cities if you don’t; AT&T’s fraud squad is hip to this technique and they’ll figure you out.

Get the best accessories and the best support

You’ll find everything you need to live your best satellite life when you shop at Solid Signal. If you need help, give us a call at 888-233-7563 or fill out the form below!

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.