NICE AND EASY: Can you get international and 4K programming at the same time on DIRECTV?

Not yet. (As of fall 2016.) 

If you need a separate dish for your international programming package, you won’t be able to combine it with the new 4K dish from DIRECTV. It’s a little difficult to explain but let’s try.

First of all, the 4K dish from DIRECTV is SWM-only, meaning that a single wire comes out from the dish and goes straight to the receivers. With the current international setup, you have two dishes — the international dish supplies one line and the regular dish supplies four — and it all goes into a multiswitch. There’s no way to do that if the regular dish supplies only one line. And before you ask, you can’t just split the line in four and put those four lines into a multiswitch.

Then, let’s talk about that multiswitch. Today’s multiswitches have six inputs. There will eventually be a 4K dish that supplies more than one line, but instead of supplying four lines, it will supply six. All six lines will be needed for the new 4K channels DIRECTV will be launching. So if one dish is taking up six inputs, that doesn’t leave a lot of space for an international dish. You’d need a multiswitch with seven inputs.

And yes, there will be a new multiswitch designed especially for 4K, but the prototypes only have six inputs. It’s not clear how DIRECTV will let you combine the international dish… except they will.

Some insiders at DIRECTV have described a scheme where line #6 from the 4K dish gets combined with line #1 from the international dish, and this will allow for both to be used as long as only one 4K channel is used at once. Right now, today’s Genies only allow one 4K stream anyway, so technically this could work in the meantime.

Over the long term, there will be a good solution to this issue, but it’s hard to know what it is. When it does come… I’ll tell you all about it!