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This, my friends, is a B-Band converter. It was a common sight on DIRECTV equipment a decade ago. Today, not so much. The B-Band converter was a temporary measure to help older DIRECTV receivers last a little longer, and make them compatible with more modern DIRECTV dishes. And keep in mind by “modern,” I mean circa 2005. It’s time to rethink your DIRECTV setup if you’re still using this tech, and I’m happy to explain why.

What a B-Band Converter does

In order to understand the purpose of this little box with a pigtail, you have to understand how satellite signals get from the sky to your receiver.

Step 1: Transmission from the satellite

There is a LOT of information that comes down from a DIRECTV satellite. Depending on the satellite, it could be broadcasting in one or all of three frequency ranges. All of these transmissions take place in the range from 12-40 gigahertz. This is a pretty wide open range of frequencies so it’s easier for DIRECTV to send a massive amount of data down to your dish. Your dish uses a special antenna that’s tuned to receive such high-frequency signals.

Step 2: From the dish to the receiver

Those high frequency signals don’t travel through cables very well. Cables that would work with them would be very expensive, too expensive for your average home installation. So, the dish converts them down to frequencies that work. This is called “block downconverting” and it’s the “B” part of an “LNB,” the common name for the front part of the dish.

Signals in the 12-18GHz range get converted to the 950-2150MHz range, commonly called the “L-Band.” Signals in the 28-40GHz range get converted to the 250-750MHz range, commonly called the “B-Band.” (These names come from old US Government designations and were designed not to make sense.)

Step 3: Fixing the inevitable problem

In the 2000s, it was a lot more expensive to make satellite receivers that received both the B-Band and the L-Band. So, with one exception, they just… didn’t. Instead, the receiver was designed so that if it needed a signal in the B-Band, it would send a signal to a filter, which would convert the B-Band signal into an L-Band signal. That, my friends, is why they call it a B-Band Converter. (Not, as some have suggested, because it has something to do with boy bands.)

But all that’s really ancient history

The B-Band converter solution was really only in use for a few years. It was replaced by a new technology which became the standard for installations in 2009. SWM technology eliminates B-Band converters and allows for installations to use simple splitters in order to make distribution easier.

But, people still kept using this technology because it meant they could keep an older dish in service or keep using an older DVR. Folks, I think it’s great that you’re thinking about preserving the setup you have. Let’s be honest, though, it’s been 11 years. If you’re still using a setup that requires B-Band converters, you’re long past the time when you should have upgraded. The new systems are simpler and also allow for 4K signals with appropriate hardware. With a new system you can add a Genie DVR which gives a lot more recording capacity, is more energy-efficient, and it’s a cleaner install. Trust me it’s worth it.

When you’re ready for that upgrade, shop Solid Signal for the parts you need or call us at 888-233-7563 if you would like help from a real technician in our 100% US-based call center. We’re here to help!

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.