NICE AND EASY: What is an “MDU?”

If you’ve hung around the world of satellite TV long enough, you’ll hear all sorts of weird abbreviations and acronyms, from “BBC” to “SWM” and lots in between. Most of the abbreviations that satellite fans use have to do with technology, and that makes sense. This one… doesn’t.

An MDU is…

…a multi-dwelling unit. It’s an apartment complex, a group of condos, or anything where there is more than one distinct home within a single building. Well, there’s a little more than that. Another thing that qualifies an “MDU” in the world of satellite TV is the number of bills.

Look at it this way. In a hotel, the hotel owners pays one bill and every guest gets TV. In an apartment, the individual tenants pay individual bills, whether they realize it or not (I’ll get to that shortly.) One bill means it’s not an MDU. Multiple bills means it is.

“Whether they realize it or not?”

There are cases where satellite TV is included in rent or condo fees. This is called a “bulk agreement.” The owner of the complex pays a per-subscriber fee that is a lot lower than the average person would pay. They then roll that cost into the rent or the condo/HOA fee. So the individual tenant is paying it, even though they aren’t really aware of it.

What’s so special about MDUs?

The person using satellite TV will look at an MDU system and it will act just like any other satellite TV system. That’s done on purpose. The whole goal is to make sure people are getting the TV experience they want. However, the rest of the system, other than the receivers, is often quite different.

Generally, you will see one dish per building. In cases where there is one dish per tenant, that’s a lot more wiring and a lot more upkeep. Both DIRECTV and DISH encourage property owners to go to one dish per building. This saves on wiring, eliminates the need for more holes in the walls, and generally looks more professional.

That one dish feeds all the residences in that building because of the complex wiring setup behind the scenes. The property owner or manager is responsible for all of that.

MDU systems are generally installed and maintained by local dealers and not by the national service organization for DIRECTV and DISH. Both AT&T and DISH have systems in place so that if someone calls for service on the main number, they are referred to the local dealer. The local dealer is an expert on the equipment that’s been put in place and can do a better job upgrading the system without causing any issues for the other tenants.

Do you want to offer satellite TV to your tenants?

As the owner of an apartment complex, or as the head of a condo board, you want what’s best for your tenants. Happy tenants stay longer and that’s better for everyone. If you’re looking to upgrade your television experience. give the experts at Signal Connect a call. The number is 866-726-4182. Our staff will help you with the best system. If it’s after East Coast business hours, fill out the form below and our team will call you back, usually within 24 hours.

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 5,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.