Why Is DirecTV Calling Me About My HD Dish?

Reader Mr. Awesome writes:

I just got some taped voicemail message from the company that installed my DirecTV last year.. Something about having to install some sort of converter by Sept. 1 in order to keep receiving HD signals… have you heard anything about this?

We hadn’t, so we asked DirecTV what the deal was. We suspected that it may have something to do with the new HD channels that are due in September, and it does. Robert from DirecTV tells us:

You may have heard we’re rolling out up to 100 new HD national HD channels by year end. These channels will be broadcast from a new satellite that is launching July 6 and will be operational in September. Because the new HD programming (and some existing HD programming) will be broadcast from next-generation satellites, using state-of-the-art video compression and at different frequencies from our regular programming, compatible HD equipment is needed. Many of our customers already have this equipment (H-20, HR20 and Ka/ku-band dish) – we’ve been distributing it for well over a year and a half now – but for those who don’t, we are contacting them to make sure they’re ready (ie they have all the right equipment) for the DIRECTV HD expansion in the fall. They can go to directv.com for more information. Hope that’s helpful.

Ah, mystery solved. Will this affect many of you?

(Photo: cmorran123)


Edit Your Comment

  1. dbeahn says:

    Funny, but isn’t Direct TV being sued for calling the compressed signal “HD” when it isn’t? The specs for “High Definition” are very clear on what levels the signals can be compressed to before the loss is enough to disqualify them as “HD”.

    So yes, please get the new box so you can get a lot more of lower quality!

  2. lawnmowerdeth says:

    The biggest problem with this is they dropped the partnership with TiVo, and the current HD-TiVo (HR10-250) won’t be compatible with the new channels. But I’m not gonna give up real TiVo for their lousy imitation!

  3. happy scrappy hero pup says:

    Lawnmower: Can’t disagree with you, although I ended up punting TiVo for the DTV DVR. After plowing through 3 units the first month or so, I’m four months into the new DVR and I’m completely used to it. I didn’t utilize all of TiVo’s tricks, but for DVR functionality, I really can’t complain too much about the DTV one anymore.

    Biggest gripe was that the first batch wasn’t ready for prime time – or evening news for that matter.

  4. GT4NE1 says:

    Could this possible mean you need to install the B-band converters? I have the new HR-20 and an HD dish, but when I go to channel 499, it says I don’t have the B-band converter installed so I won’t be able to view the new HD channels they will be adding.


    HD is really just a marketing term. That is why they get away with calling it HD radio. So I doubt DirecTv could get sued by compressing their so called HD video stream.

  5. dbeahn says:

    @GT4NE1: No, “HD” is not a marketing term. For things other than video, it is, but “High Definition” must meet a specific set of specs in audio/video to be called “HD”.

  6. The Bigger Unit says:

    Guys…will this affect my rabbit ears?

  7. sifr says:

    I’m fairly certain this regards the B-band converters you should have received (and the installer should have installed, unless they were smart and realized they were causing trouble).

    You don’t need an installer to do this. Take the b-band converter out of the box, attach one end to the connector on the back of your box, attach the other to the coax.

    Lather, rinse, repeat with the other connector/coax.

    Tune to DirecTV 499 to verify they’re working. If you don’t see a message saying you need to install them, you’re done.

  8. mathew says:

    It won’t affect me, because I refuse to pay an extra $10 a month for HD versions of channels I watch given that I’m already being forced to pay for dozens of news and sports channels I don’t want.

  9. Chaosium says:


    What audio specs must “HD Audio” meet? Azalia doesn’t count.

  10. wobudong says:

    Gee, it’s comforting to see that I’m not the only one being screwed — and I don’t even have DirectTV or HD!
    I have RCN cable TV, from which I had to rent a special box to get all the HDTV my TV set can’t use, as well as all the music videos I don’t watch, not to mention one or two shouting sports programs I don’t watch either.
    I can’t wait until HDTV gets into full swing.
    I’ll be able to pay even more to watch less!!
    Hand me my checkbook!!!!

  11. TPIRman says:

    @lawnmowerdeth: I’m in the same boat as you. They can have my DirecTiVo when they pry it from my cold, dead hands. Or when digital cable gets NFL Sunday Ticket, whichever comes first. (Probably the cold, dead hands.)

  12. the_alpha_wolf says:

    Im a Directv technical CSR so I can help answer this. The only way to get the new HD channels that are coming out it to have a B-Band Converter and your HD receivers. The only receivers that will be compatible with the new HD signal will be the Directv H20 and HR20 models.

  13. The Stork says:

    It’s just a lose-lose situation. If D* doesn’t get customers to switch over to the MPEG4 satellite dishes and receivers, they can’t deliver all the HD channels they want to (which, given the higher standard of compression, will deliver better quality than the crap they feed now.) But given the lower quality of their DVD boxes versus TiVo, they’re alienating customers while giving them far more HD channels.

    A lot of people are going to be angry when they shut off the MPEG2 signals.

  14. LAGirl says:

    i just had the new HD DVR box + HD Dish installed and i must say, it’s great. so far, no complaints. much better than what we had before: a TIVO box and an HD box both on one TV. so whenever we wanted to watch a recorded show, we had to switch over, which was a big pain in the ass.

    and yes, according to DirecTV, you do need to get the new equipment installed to get all the HD channels coming out in the fall. but, there was no charge for any of the upgrades or installation. the only thing i paid for was $26 to ship the new HD DVR box. these normally run about $200/$300. so, i feel like they gave me a good deal.

  15. OldTimer says:

    I bought an HD TV on Black Friday and an HD box. Must have been 2 months, 2 boxes before I finally asked if I needed an HD dish. WOW stupid me to ask such silly questions and they have all my info on their computer, finally got the right dish. Then the TV seemed to loose signal and DTV finally admitted to my wife that the HDMI connector on the box was NFG. Still lose signal less than Comcraptic did.

  16. Pasketti says:

    @Johnny: My DirecTivo and I have a deep connection, spiritual connection that is beyond mere “love”.

    As long as they keep sending the regular signals (and as far as I know, they will continue to do so for the next few years), I won’t be upgrading. I don’t even have an HD-compatible TV set. Although, to be honest, if I didn’t have that lifetime Tivo subscription, I’d probably be thinking hard about upgrading.

  17. OnceWasCool says:

  18. ChristopherDavis says:

    @Pasketti: Our DirecTiVo lifetime service was converted to a DirecTV DVR lifetime service, which is tied to the account rather than the hardware, when DTV took over support responsibility for the DirecTiVos. I believe this was done for all DTiVo lifetime owners. This meant that when we upgraded by adding an HR10 (bought while the HR20s were still having their teething pains) to our existing Sony T-60, we still didn’t have to pay any DVR fees (and shouldn’t ever have to, even if we dump the T-60 and the HR10 and replace them with the non-TiVo DVRs).

    This also means that you should be able to get a non-TiVo DirecTV DVR (HD or otherwise) and not pay the DVR fee.

    See this DBSTalk.com forum thread for more.

  19. jacques says:

    I also swapped out my poor DTivo for one of the new HR20s the moment they offered them in my area. I was excited to be getting the HD channels, but boy were the first models and software versions pieces of crap. It took them 4 months just to get a usable version that wouldn’t mysteriously delete my shows.
    But now I don’t miss the tivo, except for the 30 second skip/slide difference

  20. Buran says:

    Why can’t they just freaking come out with new DirecTiVos that can handle HD? C’mon. DirecTV had DVRs that everyone loved, then dropped the ball and replaced them with POS crap. Can’t they see that people don’t want junk, they want real TiVos?