Has AT&T pushed back its plans to retire the 119 satellite?

Officially, no.

Officially, AT&T still has plans to turn off standard definition channels on a market by market basis throughout 2019. They’ve already started the process by moving all non-SD, non-local content over to another satellite. They’ve started slowly turning off SD service in local markets for some customers.

However, some of the enthusiast sites are reporting something new. They’re saying manufacturers and AT&T itself are saying the transition will not be complete until 2021. I think that it’s possible that the 119 satellite itself may last that long or may not, but I think what’s really being said is that this is part of a long-term project with many pieces. The last piece will still be two years in the future.

This doesn’t mean you should wait

If you have standard definition service now, you should definitely keep up your plans to upgrade to HD-capable equipment by the end of the year. There is still a strong chance you will start losing channels in the next several months.

One possibility

I’ve heard rumors that a small number of SD channels will remain and that they’ll be converted to the same MPEG-4 encoding as HD channels. This is something DIRECTV has done in some markets for almost five years and it does free up capacity. However I’m not sure what the benefit would be to AT&T to do that. It might mean that people with marine, RV, and aircraft dishes would be able to receive more channels with that dish, but they’d still have to upgrade receivers. There is actually plenty of capacity at AT&T’s permanent satellite locations of 99, 101, and 103. That isn’t the problem. I think this may be a temporary step. The older 101 satellites don’t work well with HD encoding. The transponders aren’t really set up to broadcast it efficiently. Converting SD programming to MPEG-4 would allow those satellites to provide the most channels.

SD is dead, don’t think it isn’t.

Really, if you’re still working with single-satellite, standard definition equipment, it’s time to make a change. It can start with a receiver swap so that you can receive whatever content remains on the 101 satellites, or you can take the time to upgrade your entire system to be HD or 4K capable.

This is the perfect time for businesses to upgrade. There are a lot of options out there to make it more economical than ever to upgrade. I understand that some business owners don’t think their customers care about HD. I certainly do get that. However, this isn’t just the future of television. HD has been the standard in this country for ten years and SD is the past. It’s time to step up and get future-proof.

Call the experts at SD to HD upgrades

The folks at Signal Connect have more experience than anyone in the country doing SD to HD upgrades. They know exactly what your options are and what the best way to move forward is. They can help you with a long-term plan or they can help you get everything done at once. It’s up to you. The experts are waiting for your call at 888-233-7563, or simply 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.