UPDATED: How many dishes do you need to get international service with DIRECTV?

It’s not often that I need to change an article I only published a month ago. But, this is one of those times. Back in May I published this tutorial, and It got out of date… quickly. It was actually accurate when written, but just a few months later, the world of DIRECTV has changed.

How many dishes do you need?

Today, the answer is simple: one. With the Reverse Band 3 Slimline dish and compatible receivers, you can get HD, 4K, and international programming. DIRECTV customers with international packages do not need the international dish any longer. We still have the dish in stock, but there should be no reason to use it anymore. If you are currently using the international dish, you should think about upgrading at some point. The future for that dish, and the satellite it serves, is not clear.

Why has this changed?

This is one of those cases where the customer actually gets better service and the company also benefits. Over the last several years, AT&T has launched several satellites aimed at putting extra channel capacity at its 99, 101, and 103 locations. At one time you could get DIRECTV programming from six different locations, but the company has been slowly concentrating on those three primary ones. They are best situated to serve the entire country. The three other locations, at 72, 99, and 119 degrees, were out on the edges of the country and people on the other edge sometimes had issues with aiming.

A lot of this extra satellite capacity was originally planned for 4K channels. However, to date there are only three 4K channels on DIRECTV and no national content provider has announced a 4K channel yet. So this means there’s a lot of extra room to consolidate. As of today, all the content that is currently on the 95 satellite is also found on the DIRECTV14 satellite (also known as T14) located at 99 degrees. However, in order to receive it, you will need to upgrade to the Reverse Band dish.

If there is a big burst of 4K content, don’t worry, there’s still a lot of capacity out there with the DIRECTV15 (T15) and T16 satellites up in the sky.

Which receivers work with this setup?

Here’s the official answer: in order to receive broadcasts from the Reverse Band, you will need an HR54 Genie or HS17 Genie 2. The reverse band, as I said in this 2014 article,  reverse band frequencies are those which were originally designed to be used for communication from the ground to the satellite. They have been used for communication to the ground as well for a few years now. This has allowed AT&T to open up a lot of extra channel capacity without testing or licensing new spectrum.

If you don’t have an HR54 or HS17 Genie 2, you can continue using the older WorldDIRECT dish but you should know that setup will eventually go away. I’ve heard from sources that AT&T is no longer installing the WorldDIRECT dish. At some point in the future that dish and the satellite it serves will both be decommissioned and you’ll need the Genie setup for international service.

It’s worth noting that receivers as old as HR20 seem to work with reverse band frequencies, with the exception of 4K content. However if you call AT&T they’ll tell you that you should use one of the current Genie boxes. Perhaps there’s more to this story than the average user is aware of.

Commercial accounts should still use the WorldDIRECT dish for now. I have been told that there will be a solution for commercial users long before the 95 satellite goes dark.

What’s the best way to upgrade?

If you’re looking to upgrade to new equipment, find everything you need at Solid Signal. We have the best DIRECTV hardware for outside and inside. We can help you get the installation assistance you need or give you the resources to do it yourself. All you need to do is call us at 877.312.4547 during business hours or fill out the form below!