Winter 2020 Edition: Do you still need an external SWM multiswitch?

Back in DIRECTV’s heyday, I had a lot of equipment connected. I personally had three SWM-16 multiswitches connected to a variety of DVRs and receivers. could record up to 13 things at the same time and watch in up to 16 locations. Different multiswitches helped me control who could watch what, where.

That’s a bit of overkill, even for me. But it’s what I was doing back then.

Flash-forward to today

Like many people, I’ve streamlined my DIRECTV setup. With a Genie 2, I can easily go out to 7 locations and it turns out that’s all I need. Some of the rooms that used to have DIRECTV now use a combination of TV antenna and streaming. They’re mostly for guests anyway.

I was recently faced with the question of how to upgrade my system to keep it futureproof. Should I stay with multiple multiswitches or just go to the SWM-enabled dish?

The Reverse Band 3 SWM-enabled dish: pros and cons


AT&T’s Reverse Band SWM-enabled dish is a wonder of modern technology.  It combines the proven form factor of the Slimline dish with a new front piece that receives all the current signals from AT&T.

The dish itself is billed as supplying up to 13 tuners. (Confused about the difference between tuners and receivers? Here’s a great article.) However it can actually support 21 tuners if you power things up the right way. If you’re a super-techy person, you just need to remember that all the older receivers need to be powered up first and all Genie hardware needs to be powered up last.

This gives the SWM-enabled dish the ability to support almost the same number of tuners as an external SWM. However, you do have to be careful. It’s a lot easier to work with because you only run one line to it.

The big downside to the SWM dish is it’s not really upgradeable. If you outgrow those 13 (or 21) tuners you’ll have to go back to an external multiswitch.

The SWM-30 multiswitch: pros and cons

Using an external multiswitch means flexibility. This one multiswitch can support 26 tuners but you can stack four of them in the same space as one using this expander. You don’t have to stop at 104 tuners either. A single dish, properly installed can support hundreds of tuners. With an external multiswitch there’s no limit to what you can do.

The big downside to the external SWM is in the cabling. You will need 6 lines to the dish in order to be futureproof. That’s a lot of copper and a lot of holes in the wall. You’ll also probably want to put in an amplifier and polarity locker so that everything works as it should. That cost can add up

Making up your mind

A lot of people, even old techies like me, are finding that an 8-room system like the Genie 2 is all they need. Times are different now than they were back in 2006 and DIRECTV is just one part of a larger entertainment universe. You may not feel the need to record so much now, because it’s available on streaming. You may watch satellite TV sometimes, antenna TV sometimes, and streaming TV sometimes.

If you still need a DVR for every room, you’ll probably want to stay with an external multiswitch. But, if you’re one of the millions who have moved over to a Genie system since they were introduced in 2012, you’re probably better off with a SWM-enabled dish.

Whichever you choose, you can find the best DIRECTV hardware and accessories by shopping at Solid Signal.

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.