What does it mean, “101 satellite?”

Hang around satellite geeks for a while and you’ll hear them start to spout numbers. If they’re DIRECTV fans, you’ll hear numbers like 101, 103, and 99. If they’re more fond of DISH, you’ll hear numbers like 110 and 129 or 61.5 and 77.

These aren’t some secret code, they’re simple descriptions.

They’re locations in the sky actually.

People will use the term “101 satellite.” What they mean is that there’s a satellite in the sky, orbiting above the equator. It’s in geostationary orbit, meaning thanks to some fancy math it’s sitting at the same position relative to the earth all the time. In this case, a satellite at the “101 location” is orbiting above 101.1º west longitude, 0º latitude.

You’ll generally hear people say “the 101 satellite” as if there is only one. Every one of DIRECTV’s main satellite locations has multiple satellites. There are three at the 101 degree location, including the latest and greatest. The satellite humbly named “T16” is a 14,000 pound monstrosity that was launched in June, 2019. It will eventuall take over all the duties for that satellite location when the other satellites there are moved to a parking orbit.

Does it matter which satellite your programs are on?

Most of the time, it doesn’t. But, for our customers with marine, RV, or tailgate setups, it really can make a difference. Smaller, more compact satellite setups can only see one satellite location at a time. Your home satellite dish can see them all, of course. Larger mobile and marine systems can as well but these multi-satellite setups are larger and more expensive.

If you’re trying to watch satellite TV from the road or on the water, it’s important to know which satellite you’re aiming at. There are some online resources which can help such as this always-up-t0-date list of DIRECTV satellite channel locations.

If you change from a channel on one satellite to one on another satellite, a couple things could happen. It depends on the model of marine or mobile dish you have. In some cases, the dish just automatically reaims itself. This takes a minute but at least it happens. In other cases the channel won’t be available to you. This is often because the other satellite uses technology your receiver and satellite dish can’t use. That’s when you need an upgrade.

Get the best satellite solution for you

If you’re looking for satellite TV for home, office, business, RV, boat, or even something exotic like an oil rig, Signal Connect is the best solution. This division of Signal Group (parent company of this blog) can give you all the support you need. Not only do they handle activation for DIRECTV and DISH, but they also support and sell KVH, Intellian, Winegard and all the major brands. They can help you with all the minor problems you have along the way, and make sure that you have the best satellite experience. They can even help you find hidden discounts that you’d never expect!

To get the best service, call the experts at 888-233-7563 during East Coast business hours. If it’s before or after that, fill out the form below and our team will get back to you, usually in 24 hours or less! It’s worth waiting for the best advice in the business.

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.