Dish Network Marine Services in the Caribbean
Updated: December 2018
Dish Network is the second largest US satellite TV provider, with a constellation of satellites in several orbital locations and a combination of wide (CONUS) beams covering the contiguous US, and spot beams that cover small areas and carry local stations.
For terrestrial customers, Dish Network makes custom antennas and LNBs that can receive signal from several satellites at one time. No such antennas exist for the marine markets, therefore marine antennas will track one satellite at a time, and channel selection will be limited to whichever satellite is being used at that time.
The footprint of some of Dish’s satellites extends off the continental US into the Caribbean. when combined, a vessel can travel through most of the Eastern and Western Caribbean, Mexico, Cayman Islands, and parts of Jamaica, Cuba, Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos, be within the footprint of at least one satellite and receive at least some of Dish’s channel lineup.
Service to vessels is provided through the Dish Outdoors program, a pay-as-you-go, no-contract offering. US billing and service addresses are required to establish an account.
For yachts arriving in the Caribbean, perhaps en-route to Puerto Rico, USVI or mainland US, we can supply Dish Network receivers and handle account setup and activation. At our St. Maarten base we can handle antenna conversion, equipment installation and integration with your AV control system.
For yachts that will not use St. Maarten as their first Caribbean destination, we can arrange for shipping of the receivers to a convenient location.
Regretfully we do not provide residential/terrestrial installations or service.
Dish Network Satellites with Caribbean Footprint
119W – this is the primary satellite used by Vessels in the Caribbean. It carries the majority of the channel lineup on its main CONUS beam, plus a Puerto-Rico spot beam. However it carries very few channels in HD. 119W is the only satellite that carries the US networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC) on the CONUS beam through their local stations in NY or LA
110W – coverage mostly overlaps 119W (though a little smaller footprint), fewer channels but many more in HD.
61.5W – similar to 110W with additional HD channels
Most vessels opt to primarily use the 119W satellite as it offers the most channels. When looking to watch a particular sporting event or movie in HD on a large screen, switch to 110W or 61.5W for the duration of the program, then switch back.
77W – coverage in the Western Caribbean and Mexico. Fewer channels than 119W, and most of them in SD.
Dish Network Programming and Plans
Dish Network service to vessels is provided through Dish Outdoors, a pay-as-you go, no-contract program, billed monthly on your credit card. Several packages and options are offered, including regional sports, premium channels and Pay-Per-View. When selecting options pay close attention and make sure these channels are available on the satellite and beam that you will be using.
Most vessels select the “America’s top 120” or “America’s Top 250” packages + “Local Pack” with most channels available on the 119W satellite.
Account charges include programming package fees, plus a fixed charge per receiver (up to 6 receivers per a single account), taxes and fees.
Unlike most satellite receivers, Dish Network receivers run only on 120VAC, 60Hz. Many boats with 230VAC/50Hz power run them successfully utilizing step-down transformers, however as in any case when running 60Hz equipment on 50Hz systems, pay close attention to any possible overheating issues and in case of any doubt consult an electrician.
The receiver currently used in the marine market is the VIP211k. It has both digital and analog audio and video outputs as well as Ethernet connectivity. It can become a DVR by attaching an external USB drive and signing up to a DVR package.
Antennas and LNBs
Many recent marine stabilized antenna with a USA Circular LNB can track any one Dish Network satellite when within its footprint. As the Dish constellation is not optimized for Caribbean coverage, signal strengths vary greatly within the region. Therefore, vessels travelling through the region will benefit from the biggest antenna size possible. Conversely, smaller antennas (24″ and even 18″) can work in areas with a very strong signal. Older antennas that require a DVB lock and do not support the DVB-S2 encoding scheme will have issues tracking some of the satellites.
In general, Seatel TV, TVHD and 40xx series antennas, KVH TV Series antennas and will support Dish Network. Intellian antennas may have issues tracking Dish satellites when outside of the USA.
In St. Maarten, the Dish 119W satellites are at about 258 degrees true of azimuth, 24 degrees of elevation. When planning your dockage, make sure that there are no obstructions between your antenna and the satellite, especially considering the low elevation.
Both KVH and Intellian have antennas in their lineup that are capable of switching between their different satellites depending on the channel selected on a “master” receiver. otherwise when switching between Dish Network satellites, you will need to manually select the required satellite on your antenna’s ACU, then run the Dish “check switch” procedure.