Nice and Easy: 4K on a boat?

If you have a pleasure craft, you know everything is twice as hard on the water as it is on land. Certainly satellite TV is no exception here. If you have a satellite TV system, you know it is larger and more expensive.

No one goes out to sea just to watch TV. That’s true but most folks enjoy a little entertainment before bed. That’s why marine satellite TV systems are so popular. Cell service peters out after a few miles and internet service can be just as expensive as TV.

While a lot of folks with marine satellite TV have made do with standard definition, there are a few brave souls who have asked us: is it possible to get 4K on a boat?

Technically, it’s not IMpossible

There’s nothing that would stop you from getting 4K service on a boat. Yes it’s true that you would need different hardware. However, the technology wouldn’t be harder to implement. 4K service from DIRECTV comes from the same satellite locations as its HD service so if you have the ability to track the HD satellites you could easily track the 4K ones. You would need new receiving equipment — a new dish perhaps — to get those 4K signals.

However, at present none of our marine satellite TV partners have a dish that will do 4K. As large as marine satellite systems are, they probably would have to be even larger to accommodate 4K hardware. Here’s why: a typical LNB, the receiving part of a satellite dish, looks like this:

The same LNB for 4K, with the same capabilities, looks like this:

The plastic parts are about the same size on both.

Now, this isn’t completely apples to apples because the bottom LNB also picks up signals from other satellites that the top one does not. However, AT&T does not make a 6-wire LNB that reads only the three satellites.

So, in order to have 4K on a marine satellite system, you would either need it to be a lot bigger or you would need to design a special smaller LNB for marine systems only. This would increase the cost of course.

Looking toward the future

This is a very interesting time for the marine satellite business, especially for manufacturers who support DIRECTV service. There is a lot of uncertainty as we come toward 2019, the year when AT&T initially said they would stop supporting standard definition service. There’s no question that AT&T’s satellite at the 119 degree location is going out of service. That satellite is several years past its end-of-service date and it is really best to cut off its service life before it fails. However as of this writing there still hasn’t been an official statement regarding the over 800 standard definition channels that are served by satellites at AT&T’s 101 degree location.

While almost all residential customers have already upgraded to HD service, mobile and marine customers lag behind. Mobile and marine dishes are a lot more expensive to replace than HD equipment and AT&T is not upgrading these customers for free. This leaves a lot of people more focused on whether they will have satellite service at all instead of thinking toward 4K and the future.

If you have a mobile or marine satellite system and you’re worried about the future, the best thing to do is call our professionals at Signal Connect at 888-233-7563. They’re trained to work with people just like you who have a lot of questions. It’s worth the time!

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.