Are Directv And Dish Network Dishes Interchangeable

DISH Network acquired Blockbuster in 2011 and offers access to movie rentals.

Interchanging equipment between competitive companies is never a good idea. While the early satellite dishes offered by each company were similar, the low noise blocker, or LNB, that picks up the signal bounced off the small dish from the satellite is not the same. The LNB decodes the satellite signal in a frequency specific to each company. With the advent of high-definition television, the dishes no longer look the same and are no longer interchangeable.

DirecTV and DISH Network

The two companies began offering services to customers in 1994 and 1996 respectively. Using small 18-inch dishes originally designed for military use, early satellite dishes of both DirecTV and DISH Network were interchangeable, but LNBs and receivers were not. Since that time, both companies have changed the shapes of their dishes, making them accessible for use with only the intended subscriber services. You can no longer substitute a DISH Network satellite dish to receive a DirecTV satellite signal — and vice versa. Most of the early satellite dishes and equipment offered by both companies require upgrading to match current technology.

Low Noise Blocker

The LNB, the element that sits on the arm extended in front of the dish and covered by a plastic cup, operates on different frequencies for each company. In some cases, more than one LNB may be required for the subscribed services. Each low noise blocker takes the signal bounced by the satellite dish and further decodes it in and transmits it through coaxial cable to the box receiver to provide the satellite television services. With the advent of high-definition programming available from either satellite company, the subscriber must have appropriately upgraded equipment. Both services use two and sometimes three satellites in geostationary orbit with the Earth to send the signal to your home.


Each company has its own satellites in space to send the subscribed television services to its customers. While the signal may occur in the same frequency, each company‘s equipment decodes the encrypted signals for use in the home. These receivers contain a special card encoded with an electronic chip that identifies the subscriber’s account and the services to which he subscribes. The Smart or Access Card — the name depends on the company offering it — stores personal information only accessible by the appropriate equipment. Like current equipment, these cards are not interchangeable between the two companies.

High-Definition Services

DirecTV dishes installed prior to October of 2005 cannot receive high-definition signals. DISH Network began offering HD television in the spring of 2005, requiring upgraded equipment for subscribers to receive the higher definition signals. Both companies also offer 3-D HDTV services with the appropriate equipment. With the evolution of fiber optic television services, both companies now face competition from Verizon’s FIOS, AT&T’s U-Verse and Comcast’s XFinity TV offerings.