End of the line for satellite TV in RVs?

If you’ve been blissfully rolling down the road in your RV these past ten years, you might have heard some nasty rumors. Satellite TV, they say, isn’t going to be possible in an RV next year. The party’s over, they say. You aren’t worried, but you remember the days when your RV got over-the-air TV. Those days are gone… does that mean satellite TV is next?

The real story

Here’s the absolute truth: DIRECTV is discontinuing most standard definition service next year. We still don’t 100% know what that means, but there a few things we do know:

  1. The issue only affects people with DIRECTV.
  2. DIRECTV stopped taking orders for new standard definition service without special waivers about three years ago.
  3. DIRECTV’s satellite at the 119 location will be shutting down next year.
  4. Most high-definition channels from DIRECTV require a mobile dish some people don’t have, because it’s big and expensive.

This means that there is some possibility that the system you have today may stop working next year, except for a paltry few standard definition channels. But, that’s not the end of the story.

Here’s what you can do

You have options. Some are simple, and some will take a bit of investment.

Wait it out until we know what is going to happen

There is a possibility that some high-definition channels will be available with the satellite dish you have. Technically, it’s possible for about 32 high-definition channels to fit on DIRECTV’s existing satellites at the 101 location. We don’t know what the plans are yet but it is possible that those channels would be accessible to you. This is the safest option, but it could have you scrambling when you get close to the finish line and we really begin to understand what the options are.

Upgrade your dish

The idea that RV’s can’t get high definition channels on DIRECTV, that’s a myth. There absolutely are options. However, you are a bit more limited. The “in-motion” dish for DIRECTV HD is quite a bit larger, and that may mean some really creative installation options if you are determined to use it.

There are options, however, that work when you’re at rest for the night. With these options you have all the same choices for receivers and other hardware that you have at home, and this is a tried-and-true solution that delivers the TV you’re looking for… it’s just that it doesn’t work when the RV’s moving. If that’s ok with you, then you’re set.

Change providers

Your existing satellite dish will probably work for DISH satellite service in HD. You would have to start a new contract with them and get new equipment, but it is an option

Use the DIRECTV app for phones and tablets, and stream for free.

In many cases, AT&T customers can stream their DIRECTV content for FREE. DIRECTV offers over 100 channels of live TV and over 15,000 on demand programs on your phone or tablet and it doesn’t count on your data plan if you’re an AT&T customer (some restrictions apply, you know the disclaimer.)

In a case like this you can replace your tiny TV with a tablet and your passengers can enjoy great TV while you’re driving.

Here’s the real solution

The best solution is to make friends with the people at Signal Connect, the commercial and mobile arm of Solid Signal. As the nation’s premier RV activation specialist, they have the inside track on all the changes that are happening and no one is going to know more about what’s going on than they do.

It starts with a call to 888-233-7563. You won’t get a call center, you’ll get someone in our 100% US-based offices who wants to start a relationship, not make a sale. One call means you have a friend in the business, and that’s the best feeling, right?

So yes, if you’re a DIRECTV customer with an in-motion dish on your RV, you may have some decisions to make. Best news is, you don’t have to make them alone.

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.