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So does this mean the SWM-8 is obsolete?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 And it’s not really fair to say the SWM-8 is obsolete.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.