Is the SWM-8 obsolete?

You remember the SWM-8. First released back in about 2006, it was the first mass-market SWM device for DIRECTV. It made all future devices possible. Without SWM, you would have needed five coax cables for an original Genie. You’d need eleven of them for a Genie 2. SWM technology was a revolution. It created a whole new class of proprietary equipment and it enabled today’s modern satellite systems.

But that was then. What have you done for me lately?

The SWM-8 was made in huge numbers in the 2000s. It was used to retrofit a lot of older DIRECTV installations and for a while it was the default multiswitch for commercial installs. However, it didn’t take long before even more powerful SWM multiswitches were released.


The SWM-32 was four SWM-8s shoehorned into one very large case. It was designed to be more robust than a SWM-8 and there are a lot of these still in service.


The SWM-16 was the successor to the SWM-8, offering twice as much tuner support in a package that wasn’t much bigger than the SWM-8. This was the workhorse of residential installs for a long time.


Almost immediately, new installs started getting a dish with a SWM built into it. Although it wasn’t as easy to upgrade as the SWM-8, it was a lot easier to install and cut down new customer wait times.


Most people never saw the SWM-13. It was only in production for a short while and was only used in very specific installs. It offered more tuner capacity than a SWM-8 but less than a SWM-16. However it had higher output levels that meant you could have longer cable runs.


This is the current top-of-the-line multiswitch for DIRECTV. It has almost as much capacity as the old SWM-32 but is the size of a SWM-8. It’s used for commercial installs or any case where you need more than the 13 tuners supplied by the newest generation dishes.

So does this mean the SWM-8 is obsolete?

“Obsolete” is such a trigger word. You don’t want to think of any aspect of your A/V system as “obsolete.” And it’s not really fair to say the SWM-8 is obsolete. It’s still plenty usable, although it doesn’t do everything that the latest equipment does.

The latest DIRECTV equipment supports the Ka Reverse Band,  which is a separate set of frequencies beyond those that the SWM-8 supports. The reverse band is used for 4K and international programming, but in the future you’ll probably see it used more and more for other channels as well. The SWM-8 won’t ever support the Reverse Band, so in that sense you could call it obsolete, I guess.

But there are still a lot of uses for the SWM-8. The best is for our RV and marine customers. There are still a lot of people with standard-definition marine and RV systems. Those systems are a lot more expensive than traditional dishes and people naturally want to get as much life out of them as possible. The SWM-8 is perfect for this purpose. It allows a mix of older and newer receivers, which the SWM-30 does not. It also allows for newer H25 receivers to be used with very old dishes.

So, obsolete? I’d say not! It’s just gone from a mainstream part to a special-purpose one. If it fits your purpose, shop for one now at Solid Signal.

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.