THE RUMOR MILL: Will AT&T force you to abandon satellite TV?

This one might make you want to laugh, but there are some folks out there who are legitimately concerned about this. They hear the rumors about AT&T’s upcoming live TV streaming service and they think that DIRECTV installers will show up one day and take away their dishes. Let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth.

AT&T’s TV service: more questions than answers.

We’ve heard about it for years now. Supposedly AT&T will be launching a service described as “DIRECTV without the dish.” It’s supposedly more than just DIRECTV NOW, the company’s current flagship streaming product. Supposedly it will be 100% feature-for-feature equivalent with DIRECTV Satellite, but will be totally internet delivered.

This doesn’t come as much of a surprise. After all, AT&T was the pioneer of internet-delivered TV with U-Verse. But for now there are more questions than answers. Will this new service be available for everyone? Will it be limited to only those with AT&T internet? How many rooms will be supported? What will the DVR situation be? The truth is we don’t know.

Even those people who have broken their NDAs to reveal details on the internet don’t know. They’re passing along what they see on their screens today, but that could easily change. It’s possible we won’t really know details about the hardware or software until just before launch.

One thing’s for sure: The dish isn’t going away

AT&T operates the largest consumer-facing satellite fleet in the world. They just launched their T16 satellite and it’s very obvious that they are still very committed to satellite TV. AT&T execs have said in the past that they’re done launching satellites, but then they said that before the T16 launch so it’s hard to really know what they’re saying. No matter. Even if AT&T doesn’t launch another satellite, period, they have enough capacity to provide satellite TV services for at least another decade. Probably more.

AT&T (and DIRECTV before it, when they were separate) planned for a massive expansion of 4K content that may never happen. We started talking about 4K on this blog 7 years ago and there still aren’t any full-time 4K channels other than the ones DIRECTV itself provides. Even if some national 4K launches, there’s still no problem with capacity. There are several truly gigantic satellites up there and that’s not going to change.

Yeah, you may have to upgrade some equipment

That’s not new of course. If you’ve been with DIRECTV for 25 years you’ve seen several generations of equipment. At this point all DIRECTV boxes made before 2003 are totally obsolete and any non-HD hardware made before 2015 will soon be just as obsolete. There has been plenty of warning that local standard definition channels are going away. It’s taking longer than expected but it’s definitely happening.

Depending on what dish you do have on your roof, you may want to upgrade at some point. Almost all home installations should have the Reverse Band 3 LNB. This LNB gives you access to all the frequencies and all the satellite locations that DIRECTV uses. Very soon, it will be mandatory for international users and people with 4K service. Sometime after that, it may be needed for people with regular programming. AT&T has consolidated its satellite fleet down to three locations and is aggressively using its RDBS capacity for channels that have been at the 95 or 119 locations.

If you haven’t upgraded yet, get the Reverse Band 3 LNB from Solid Signal and do it yourself with help from our Ultimate Guide. Or, call us and we’ll help arrange for the upgrade to be done by an installer. One call to 888-233-7563 gets you started.

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.