Why is marine satellite so expensive?

You say you want satellite TV or satellite internet on your boat. if you wanted these things at home, you would expect free equipment and free installation. So, you call the fine folks at Signal Connect to get hooked up. They lay it out to you.

The equipment’s not free. Some it maybe, but not all of it. The installation isn’t free either.

Well that’s a bummer.

I know, right? Satellite equipment for marine use costs a bit of money. There are a couple of reasons why.

First of all, it’s pretty obvious you can’t just use the same satellite dishes and network equipment that people use at home. It wouldn’t make sense to use an internet solution that needed a wire attached to the boat. The satellite dishes used for homes need to stay aimed to within 1/32″ tolerance. That’s obviously impossible in a moving boat.

Satellite and internet equipment for marine is very specialized. It has all sorts of electronics and motors to make sure it can see those satellites in the sky all the time. Systems need to be able to adjust themselves several times a second, constantly. This means something built for speed and durability, and that comes at a cost.

Another thing you need to consider is that all this equipment needs to be weatherproof and safe from salt water corrosion. You’ve noticed, of course, that marine equipment often gets a little expensive because it’s built to a high standard. Satellite gear is the same. It needs to sit outside in the salt air without any damage to those sensitive electronics.

Finally, remember that marine satellite is less than 1/10th of 1% of the total number of people with satellite. That means you can’t spread the research and development costs over as big of a group, and that keeps costs higher.

Are there options for dealing with this?

Sometimes it’s possible to buy satellite equipment on the secondary market. Just make sure that if you’re buying something used, that it’s what you need. All those big white gumdrops may look the same, but they are quite different inside. DIRECTV systems have changed quite a bit over the years. That’s less true with DISH systems but they are still different than they were in the 2000s. It’s important to know that the thing you’re buying will work for you.

Another option is choosing a single-satellite dish instead of a multi-satellite dish. This will generally limit you to standard definition and it may mean you can only have a small number of receivers. But, it is a way to keep costs down in the short run. Chances are you’ll eventually want to upgrade, though.

How can you know what you need?

I get it. The world of marine satellite can be confusing. That’s why you need an expert in your corner. Luckily, I know just who to recommend. Call Signal Connect at 888-233-7563. We do more marine satellite activations than anyone in the world. When you call, you’ll get an expert in our corporate offices in Novi, Michigan. They’ll be able to answer your questions, recommend hardware, and help you choose the services you want. This concierge-level treatment is 100% free to our marine customers! Check it out before you make your decision. Call us, or if it’s after East Coast business hours, fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you, usually within 24 hours!

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.