Can you use a Sea Tel dish for DIRECTV HD?

This one comes straight from one of our customers. As many of you know, Signal Connect activates more marine satellite TV subscriptions than anyone else in the world. A lot of those are for new boats, but a fair number are for older vessels that already have satellite equipment on them. It’s cases like that when you really need the experts… because not all older equipment is created equal.

Let’s talk about Sea Tel

Sea Tel satellite dishes are made by a company called Cobham, based in the UK. As far as I can tell, they don’t have any presence in the US and their products aren’t even FCC certified. That means they can’t be sold here. Cobham makes a lot of other high-end thingamabobs for remote communication, too. This is pretty common for satellite companies, actually.

Sea Tel devices aren’t really that different from ones sold in the US. It’s just a different manufacturer. They’re reasonably popular in Europe, where partners like KVH don’t do a lot of business. They are a quality company, just not one that most US marine dealers have a lot to do with.

Getting to the meat of it

Like all marine satellite companies, Cobham makes many different Sea Tel products. As far as I can tell, the Sea Tel line of devices can all pick up the Ku-band broadcasts used by satellite TV providers all over the world. Of course, you’ll generally need a different satellite receiver for any country you visit, but at least the antenna will work.

These dishes will also work to pick up Ku-band broadcasts from DIRECTV. However, for the most part these will be standard-definition only channels, as DIRECTV uses a different set of frequencies, called the Ka band, for its HD and 4K programs. This allows them to offer thousands of channels to people all over the country.

There is one device, Sea Tel’s 120TVHD, which does let you pick up DIRECTV HD broadcasts. It does not seem to pick up reverse band broadcasts, meaning some international channels may not come in.

120TV? or 120TVHD?

Here’s a case where you have to be very specific. Sea Tel’s 120TV model doesn’t pick up DIRECTV HD, while the 120TVHD model does. I wish they would have chosen different model numbers to make it easier, but they didn’t.

It doesn’t look like there’s an upgrade path from 120TV to 120TVHD, so if you have the 120TV, you’re pretty much stuck where you are unless you want to pay full price for a new antenna.

Here’s how you can find out more

If you need help with anything pertaining to your marine satellite system, no matter where you bought it, call the experts at Signal Connect! We can help you figure it all out, for free! The first call needs to be during East Coast business hours, but once you’re connected to a tech, you can reach them when you need them. Our team is committed to taking care of you!

Call us at 888-233-7563. You’ll get to someone who knows all about marine satellite TV and who can help you get all the info you need. If it’s after hours, fill out the form below, and we’ll get back to you, usually within one business day.

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.