A little while ago I ran a very popular article telling you what’s left on AT&T’s satellite in the 119 location. This satellite has been approaching end-of-life and it was first announced in 2016 that it would be retired. At that time we thought it would be this year. Obviously that seems pretty unlikely at this point.
The 119 satellite hasn’t been a really big part of AT&T’s (or DIRECTV’s) plans for a long time. but what about the other active satellite locations?
One big happy fleet
At one time, DIRECTV (before it was part of AT&T) actually had seven satellite locations.
The least well-known was the 72.5 degree location, where some local and international channels could be found. A separate dish was needed to get service from this satellite. It went out of service in 2012.
DIRECTV, and later AT&T, leased space on a satellite at the 95 degree location for international programming. Again, a special dish was needed for this purpose. Although this special dish was able to get standard-definition programming, those who wanted HD would need two fairly large dishes on their roofs in order to make that happen.
This location, along with the 103 location, were used extensively starting in 2010 to add high definition local and national channels. More recently this location and the 103 location have also been used for international and 4K programming.
The granddaddy of them all, this has been DIRECTV’s primary satellite location since 1994.
Like the 99 location, this location is home to several satellites that serve HD, 4K, and international programming.
This was actually one of the first satellite locations, according to historical sources. For much of its active time, it served local channels to parts of the country but was repurposed to provide all satellite service to DIRECTV in Puerto Rico. However, this satellite has now gone quiet.
At one time this was an important source for commercial programming, standard and high definition programming for customers in the western part of the country. However, it has been slated to go end-of-life sometime soon.
So what’s on 95 and 110
First, it’s easy to tell you what’s on 110. Nothing. This satellite location isn’t used at all anymore. As I said it was used for Puerto Rican programming for many years.
The 95 satellite location still has a lot of international programming, many in standard definition. Two satellites serve programming to all of Latin America as well as customers with international packages in the US.
The satellites at the 95 degree location will continue to work at least for the short term. However, all the US-bound programming is also mirrored at the 99 and 103 locations.
Why is that stuff in both places?
In 2018 AT&T announced plans to spin off its Latin American business units under the name “Vrio.” Those plans were put on hold but it makes sense that AT&T would continue to separate satellite operations for Latin America from its US operations. A spinoff or IPO may still come in the future but at the moment Vrio is operated as a separate business unit from DIRECTV US.
What does this mean for people with the Slimline-5 dish or WorldDIRECT dish?
First of all, if you have an existing WorldDIRECT dish and HD hardware, you can change to a Reverse Band 3 dish and simplify your installation. There’s no rush, though, as there isn’t a firm timeline for moving programming off the 95 satellites.
If you have a Slimline-5 dish, it will continue to operate normally. The LNBs that point to the 110 and 119 locations will get steadily less signal, and eventually a software update will be sent to your receivers saying that it’s ok if you get no signal at all from either location. This will happen completely without you. You don’t have to do anything.