It’s kind of a trick question.
For about 20 years, customers who wanted one of DIRECTV’s international programming packages used a separate dish called the WorldDIRECT dish. If you don’t remember it, it looked like this:
Yes, it looks a little like a Slimline dish but it isn’t one. This dish was originally designed to hold two LNBs: one for DIRECTV’s 95 degree location and one for its 101 location. This made sense back in the days when almost all the programming came from a satellite at 101.
In later years, as you can see in this photo, that extra hole in the bracket went unfilled. International users had a two-dish solution: They needed to use a separate Slimline dish to get all the programming they needed. This required a lot of wiring and it made for a particularly messy install.
Those days are gone.
In the last year, AT&T has taken all the programming from the 95 degree satellite location and mirrored it at one of its primary locations. All you need is a dish like this one:
The trick is that it must have the “reverse band LNB.” What is reverse band? I’m glad you asked… here’s a tutorial. AT&T has launched three massive satellites in the last two years. I am pretty sure that the original goal of launching these satellites was to have enough capacity for 5,000 local 4K channels. We may still get 4K over-the-air TV, or we may not. It’s hard to know at this point. But for now. AT&T’s satellites at its main locations (99, 101, and 103) have a ton of capacity.
What this means to you
This means that for the first time in a very long time, AT&T’s customers who want international programming don’t need two dishes. One reverse band dish will do it. If you currently have a regular dish, you can upgrade to the reverse band dish by switching out the LNB with this one. You can do this yourself using the techniques found in our tutorial white paper.
This is great news for everyone, but it’s even better news for tailgaters, apartment dwellers, and everyone who can’t put a lot of holes in their home. It means fewer dishes to mount, fewer holes drilled, and less equipment up on the roof.
Does the old dish still work?
Yes, the World DIRECT dish does still work. That won’t be the case forever though… AT&T has signaled that it will stop using the 95 degree location for US programming in the future. Its Latin American subsidiary will still use that satellite. Unlike in previous years, DIRECTV Latin America now operates as a completely different business unit from DIRECTV US. At one point it looked like AT&T would sell off Latin America, but for now they haven’t done that. Still the South American side of the business continues to move further from the US one.
I don’t know of any timeline but I would expect that the satellite at the 95 degree location would probably go out of service sometime in the next 5 years. So if you’re considering a dish upgrade, it’s best not to wait.