Can you watch satellite TV in your car?

It’s a surprisingly confusing question.  In order to understand, you need to go all the way back to the beginning.

Satellite TV is designed for things that stand still.

When you’re watching satellite TV, you’re aiming an antenna at a spot in the sky where a broadcast station 22,000 miles away orbits the earth. I am always amazed that this works at all, but it does. It does take precise aiming, however. Being even 1/32″ off can mean that your aim is off by 100 miles in the sky.

This would lead most people to think that satellite TV in a moving vehicle (or on a boat) would be practically impossible. They’re not completely wrong. In order for satellite TV to work while in motion, you need a system of motors, gimbals, and software that predicts the direction that the dish is moving in 3D space. This is the big reason that mobile satellite systems are so expensive.

A solution for cars: the Tracvision A9

The image you see at the top of this article is KVH’s Tracvision A9 system. It’s the only true satellite system for cars. Most mobile satellite systems are shaped like giant gumdrops, like this.

Obviously this wouldn’t work for a car, it would look ridiculous for one thing. Depending on the car or SUV it might not fit in your garage, either.

That’s why the unique shape of the TracVision A9 is so important. Its flat footprint makes it possible for it to track a single satellite and it fits on practically any car, truck, van, or SUV.

It works with DIRECTV and DISH

The Tracvision A9 picks up DISH programming from a single satellite at a time. For DIRECTV, it picks up standard definition or high definition programming from the 101 satellite location. It’s designed to support a single-tuner receiver and not be used with multiple receivers but let’s be honest here… how many satellite receivers do you want to have in your car?

Isn’t it just easier to use a tablet?

Yes, I will admit that there’s a lot of flexibility in using a phone or tablet to stream. You can use DIRECTV or DISH’s apps to stream live TV to your car. Of course that means you need a good cell signal and you need a data plan that lets you stream, data-free. That’s not always a reasonable request. The best possible option in one of those cases is a phone from AT&T which lets you use the DIRECTV app data free. Of course you still have the matter of the small screen to contend with.

Point is, you have choices you didn’t realize you had.

If you are a heavy satellite TV watcher, you’ll want one of these on your car. Solid Signal can arrange for installation as well as make sure you get exactly what you need and free activation. If you’d rather go the cellular route, Solid Signal can help you with a new phone, a new line, and can help get you the streaming video package of your dreams. It’s all up to you, and it all starts with a call to our experts. Call 888-233-7563 during East Coast business hours or simply fill in the form below and a representative will get back to you in about 24 hours.


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.