Could DIRECTV move HD programming back to the 101 location?

Ever since AT&T first announced that they expected to end SD service completely in 2019, rumors have swirled around that satellite service from the 101 location would also end. But, as we’ve all learned in one way or another, the world doesn’t always work the way you expect.

SD service still hasn’t ended… yet

As I write this in late spring 2020, AT&T is still sending standard-definition channels out there over satellite. Most local channels have ceased their SD feeds, although some will continue for another year due to contracts. But the national channels are still there.

Not only that, AT&T made the wise decision to move their T16 satellite to the 101 position to take over for older satellites that had been in service for close to 20 years. That satellite launched last year and has a service life of at least 10 years.

and HD service could take its place

Since the T16 satellite is practically identical to the T15 satellite that currently supplies HD and 4K service at the 103 location, there’s no technical reason that it couldn’t carry HD programming. Moving HD programming to the 101 location would make it easier for customers with older satellite dishes.

The move could happen at any time, but isn’t likely to. For the moment things are fairly stable up there in the sky and there’s a lot of extra capacity.

Would you need a different dish?

As it stands now, it would be possible to move at least some HD programming to the Ku-band capacity of the T16 satellite. That means you wouldn’t need a new dish. However, T16 also has Ka-band and reverse Ka-band capacity, which isn’t being used. Using this capacity would mean a lot of content could move to the 101 location, but it would require engineering and installing a completely new dish.

At this point, given AT&T’s subscriber numbers over time, I’m not sure they’d make that investment unless they absolutely had to. It’s more likely that they’ll find a way to lease out that extra capacity if they have no other plans for it.

The bottom line…

If you are using a dish that only picks up the 101 satellite, you should still consider your upgrade options. If the dish is at home, you should definitely consider upgrading to the latest and greatest dish available at Solid Signal. For those who have a marine or mobile system, this is going to be a bit more expensive of course. The multi-satellite dishes are larger and may not be appropriate for your size of vehicle or vessel. You can plan for an upgrade, or explore other options. If you need to know which direction to go, call the experts at Signal Connect. They do more mobile and marine satellite activations than anyone else. They’ll be happy to give you tons of free advice. They’ll tell you the best steps to take when upgrading a mobile or marine satellite system. The number is 866-726-4182. If it’s after East Coast business hours, fill out the form below and one of the team will get back to you with the information you need!

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 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.