Do You Need the Internet For DIRECTV’s Genie?

The Genie system from AT&T is super-duper. But there’s a lot of misinformation as to whether you “need” to connect them to the internet. You’ll hear different answers on different blogs and even from different DIRECTV people. Let’s take a look at the real answers and why there’s so much confusion. First, the bottom line answer:

All DIRECTV receivers will work fine even if they are not connected to the internet.

This includes Genies and all the older hardware. There, that wasn’t so hard, right? It’s a little more complicated than that, if you look at it step by step, and that’s what we’re about to do.

If your equipment was installed by AT&T, the installer will try to connect it to the internet. This is just part of their practice. AT&T’s own installers are only paid if they complete every aspect of the work. That includes connecting the equipment to the internet. There are two reasons for this. First and foremost, they want to make sure that you get all the features you want.

Another reason AT&T prefers connected receivers is that your receivers can send a message to AT&T’s servers if they think they are malfunctioning. The message is safe and anonymous, and there’s a setting at DIRECTV.com to turn off all tracking. If a customer service rep sees problems, they can take action, like forcing your receiver to reset itself in the middle of the night or even calling you to ask you’re seeing a problem.

If you’re not connected to the internet, some stuff won’t work.

When your receiver or DVR is connected to the internet, you get all sorts of benefits. For example:

  • Pandora streaming music
  • Enhanced Music Choice
  • Video on Demand
  • Special event channels
  • Faster searches
  • Team trackers, weather and other apps

You can find a lot of these features under the TV APPS menu. You can get there by pressing the right arrow on your remote.

In order to download programs to your mobile device using the DIRECTV app, you need to be connected to the internet.

Forget about ordering pay-per-view using the receiver

Also, you cannot order pay-per-view from the receiver without an internet connection or phone line attached to the receiver. Most newer hardware doesn’t even have a phone jack, and it’s true that many current phone systems won’t even work with AT&T hardware.

If you order pay-per-view without a connection, it will work the first time but after a few hours you won’t be able to order anything else. You can still order PPV online or over the phone and it will work without an internet or phone connection.

You can still order pay-per-view content at DIRECTV.com or using the DIRECTV app on your device. The pay-per-view content will be available on your Genie even though it isn’t connected to the internet.

You see, there are a lot of benefits to being connected, and that’s why you’ll hear other sites saying your receivers “must” be connected. It’s not true. If you lose your internet service or just choose not to connect your receivers, they will work fine.

One more thing…

What we’re talking about is internet connection. In order for any whole-home viewing such as watching something from the DVR in the other room or using the Genie Mini Client, your receivers must be connected to each other. This is automatic with all receivers using the Single-Wire Multiswitch system. This technology has been the default install for DIRECTV systems since 2009 so you probably use that system. If you have a Genie, you are using single-wire multiswitch technology. With an older receiver or DVR, press the DASH button on the remote.

If this popup window says “SWiM Connected” then you are.

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 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.