Do you need to upgrade to a high-definition marine dish?

If you’ve enjoyed life on the water all summer, you’re probably thinking of packing it in about now. It’s about to turn colder, and that means getting that boat packed up for the winter. It’s also the perfect time to talk about upgrading.

Still rockin’ that standard def setup?

Back in 2004-2007, there was a huge increase in the number of boats with marine satellite dishes. The technology was brand new. For the first time you could watch TV ten miles off shore. A lot of boats got dishes installed, and then, the recession happened.

Whether you’re the first owner of the boat or someone who picked up something with satellite built-in, there’s a good chance that marine TV system hasn’t changed much since those days. Marine satellite systems are very reliable. We hear all the time about people who are still using decade-old equipment. Still, the time is coming.

2019 is almost here.

You might have heard. You might have even read about it on this blog. DIRECTV is turning off all programming from its 119 satellite next year. This means all local standard definition programming is going away. It may not happen all at once. We don’t know if standard-def national programming is going to be affected, or how much. There’s still a lot that isn’t public about the process.

Why is it all so secret?

For over three years, AT&T has been working hard to upgrade everyone to HD-capable equipment. There’s a lot of offers on the table. Home and business users can upgrade for free in most cases. The goal at AT&T has been to move everyone to modern equipment, not to bend over backwards to support a TV technology that’s been out of date for a decade.

However, when it comes to marine equipment, it can still be very expensive to upgrade. Marine dishes cost quite a bit more than their land-based counterparts. So what can you do?

Here are your options.

1. Upgrade to an HD dish for DIRECTV.

With DIRECTV service you’ll need a new dish to get HD. DIRECTV’s HD programming uses different technology and it’s on different satellites than the old SD programming. This can be a big investment, but since marine dishes last so long, think about it as a long-term one.

2. Switch to another provider.

You can get HD programming from DISH and there’s a chance you can do it with the marine system you have. You might need a new antenna control unit and possibly a new multiswitch, but those aren’t the expensive parts of the system. You’ll need new receivers, and if you don’t upgrade the dish, channel changes can be slow as the dish moves to follow a new satellite.

3. Or, you can be smart about it.

You can upgrade to DIRECTV high-definition equipment now. This futureproofs you as much as you can be futureproofed. There are plenty of upgrade options that come at a very low price. Some people even qualify for free upgrades. You will take on a new two-year commitment in most cases. However, you’ll be ready for any HD channels you can get with the dish you have. You’ll also be ready when you finally make the move to an HD dish.

When you’ve made the choice

When you’re ready to make a move, call the experts at Signal Connect, the marine arm of Solid Signal. They can help you figure out what to do next, how to make the most of what you have, and how to keep enjoying live TV on the water for another decade. After all, that’s what they’re there for. The number is 888-233-7563. Tell ’em you read about them at The Solid Signal Blog.


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.