Updated: August 24, 2014
DirecTV is one of the major television broadcasting providers that has been in existence for more than a decade. The TV broadcasting giant made its foray into the Internet Service Provider (ISP) market several years back. What is the service like and how does it work?
DirecTV has been providing satellite television services to millions of consumers for more than ten years now. Like other TV broadcasting giants, DirecTV has had to revise their services to keep up with new market trends and the desire on the part of consumers to receive television services on-demand and watch programming from any location and at any time.
Several years ago, DirecTV added Internet connectivity to its trademark satellite television services. Since then, the company has brought their Internet services up in the ranks to meet new consumer demands for anytime, anywhere access to television programming. Additionally, the company has enhanced its services to include telephone services for local and nationwide calling.
The high speed Internet services cover a wider range of areas as the result of DirecTV’s partnership with service providers such as AT&T, CenturyLink, HughesNet Gen4, Exede, Verizon, Mediacom, Windstream, and Cincinnati Bell. The partnerships allow DirecTV to offer the triple play bundle that includes satellite television, Internet access, and phone service.
How DirecTV Internet Bundles Work
DirecTV offers Internet services that are bundled with their other services that include satellite television programming and phone service. In order to provide you with Internet service, the company uses one of its third party partners as mentioned above to provide you with Internet service in your specific physical location. Depending upon the third party partner, the speed of your Internet connection will vary since the various partnerships offer everything from high speed cable Internet to dial-up.
The high speed Internet connection is well advertised and necessary in order to enjoy on demand programming, However, DirecTV does not disclose the actual speed since the company is working with multiple third party Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Depending upon where you are located, the bundled services that include Internet access and telephone may be provided through Mediacom, AT&T, Verizon, HughesNet, Exede, Windstream, CenturyLink or Cincinnati Bell.
When reviewers of the Internet service recently asked DirecTV about the average download and upload speeds for the Internet service, the company claimed that both speeds average about 1.5 Mbps (megabits per second). This is significantly slower than other competing Internet Service Providers. As a consumer, if you request data transfer speed rates, DirecTV will not provide you with this information until you sign up for one the television programming packages. This means that you cannot obtain Internet service unless you bundle it with one of their TV plans.
Additionally, the services that you receive in the bundled package will vary. Because DirecTV is partnering with third party providers, each provider offers their own set of features and services. This requires you to check into exactly what the features are with DirecTV’s local partners such as number of email accounts, amount of email storage, parental controls, Internet security applications, and more.
In terms of cost, DirecTV claims you can save up to $10 every month on your DirecTV bill for up to one year if you choose the triple play bundle that includes satellite television, phone and Internet. To obtain the triple bundle service, it requires a 24-month agreement with the offer based on approved credit and a required credit card. There may also be hidden data charges on the Internet service depending upon the third party provider where you are receiving your Internet and phone service.
In terms of cost, what you will pay for DirecTV Internet will depend upon the TV package you choose. Prices for TV plans can range anywhere from just under $50 for 130+ channels up to $129 for the Premier package with access to over 285 digital channels.
Once you choose a package, then a reduced price can be quoted by DirecTV to determine how much it will cost for satellite TV, Internet access, and phone services. This is also determined based on what third party Internet and phone providers in your local area have negotiated with DirecTV.
In order to prepare for DirecTV installation with Internet and phone service, it is a good idea to take some steps in advance of the installation to avoid any headaches with delays. Here are a few steps you can follow to prepare:
- Choose the Rooms: Decide on the rooms in your home where you plan to access DirecTV programming with Internet access. Then prepare the room for installation by moving your home entertainment system away from walls for easy access by the installation technician.
- Internet Service: If you have ordered an HD DVR receiver and you have signed up for the triple bundle package, the technician will connect it to the Internet service that accompanies your triple play package. The steps for establishing the connection will depend upon the third party Internet Service Provider that DirecTV works with in your area.
- Satellite Dish Location: Determine where the best clear view of the southern sky is and then prepare that area for satellite dish installation. If it is necessary to mount the dish up on the roof, then make the necessary provisions to make it easy for the technician to access the installation area.
- Set Time Aside: DirecTV usually provides you with an approximate time for your installation appointment. This means you will need to set an entire day aside to wait for them to come to your house. The installation also takes some time and there needs to be an adult present when installation takes place.
Once you have prepared for the installation, it is important to be aware that DirecTV will only install the satellite television service. This means that you must set up a separate appointment with each of the DirecTV partners in your area to install the Internet and phone services separately.
When you call DirecTV for an appointment, they will provide the name of the local partners in your area and recommend that you arrange for Internet and phone installation in advance of the television service installation. This is because the HD DVR requires Internet service in order for the technician to perform the installation. The technician will also connect the HD DVR to the Internet at no additional cost. The HD DVR allows you to access on demand services including Pandora and YouTube, in addition to your regular satellite TV programming that is included in your TV plan.
If you are interested in how satellite TV installation works, here is an older video that provides a great demonstration on basic satellite installation. Although some of the methods have changed, it will provide you with a great working knowledge of how the process is completed.
If you are very tech savvy and an avid do-it-yourselfer, you should be able to perform the installation of the DirecTV connection equipment. It does require some technical knowledge associated with cable installation, device setup, configuration, and satellite technology to complete a successful installation. If you do not have this type of expertise or you only have knowledge in a few of the areas, installation is best left to a DirecTV technician or someone in your area that is qualified.
Is DirecTV Internet Really Necessary?
The answer to this depends upon your individual situation and your physical location. We will say that you can connect a DirecTV HD DVR device to your existing Internet connection. However, if for any reason, DirecTV is able to set you up with a partner that provides a better service, then DirecTV Internet may serve you better.
Overall, in terms of Internet connectivity, the Internet connected HD DVR provides you with access to more than 10,000 on demand movies and shows. It also allows you to enjoy programming on other devices including your PC, tablet, or smartphone. This is included in your DirecTV service at no additional cost.
Using other Wi-Fi enabled devices in your household, you can access entire seasons of programs from HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and Starz if you are subscribed to these channels. The Internet connection also allows you to catch up on past episodes and enjoy releases that are still in the theaters.
The Internet connected HD DVR also allows you to stream live TV to any device that is connected to your home Wi-Fi network. Additionally, if you want to tap into DirecTV programming that you have recorded while you are away from home, the Internet connected DVR works in conjunction with GenieGO that allows you to watch programming at any time from any location, and from any type of Wi-Fi enabled device.
Here is a video that discusses more on how GenieGO works.
An HD DVR that is connected to the Internet will also allow you to access Pandora. This is an online radio service that provides a way to customize radio stations that play only the music you like. All you have to do is enter the title of the track, composer, or artist and Pandora will create a radio station based on those selections. The service is capable of creating up to 100 different radio stations for each individual user to cover a wide variety of music genres.
DirecTV Customer Agreements and Policies
Like other customer agreements with the major providers of television broadcasting, it is important to read all of the fine print as tedious as it may seem. Some of DirecTV services require a commitment for a specified period of time where other services do not. Regardless, DirecTV is known for reserving the right to change the terms of a customer agreement at any time prior to forwarding you a new copy of the Customer Agreement.
If you do not like the new terms, you may cancel your service upon notifying DirecTV however, they typically change a deactivation fee and subject you to an early cancellation fee. You must also maintain a valid credit card on file in order to cancel your service to allow DirecTV to charge your card for any fees you have incurred.
Pros and Cons of DirecTV Internet
Like any other service, there are advantages and disadvantages to using DirecTV Internet and the television programming services. Here are a few pros and cons:
- Access to thousands of programs and shows that can be accessed from anywhere, at any time, and using any device.
- The capability to design your programming package.
- The mobile version of DirecTV allows you to take your services with you when you travel for use in your RV.
- If you are tech savvy, the installation can be performed without the help of a technician.
- You can enjoy access to a wide variety of programming when you live in an area that does not provide cable TV.
- The only way to get Internet service is by subscribing to a DirecTV television package.
- Pricing for the TV plans is rather expensive when compared to other television broadcast services.
- Some of the deals and special offers come with strings attached if you do not read the fine print.
When you read the reviews on DirecTV Internet services and the triple play packages you will likely encounter mixed opinions of the service. In recent years, the customer service which was previously quite shoddy, has significantly improved. However some DirecTV customers have still expressed disdain for the service while others have had a great experience with it.
Overall, it appears DirecTV has been striving to improve its offerings and cater to customer demands for convenience and on demand services. This reflects in the fact that DirecTV stock shares were recently upgraded to buy from hold in early August 2014.
Analysts at Pivotal Research, a leading provider of investment knowledge, predict that the stock will now have a target price of $90 per share as indicated on TheStreet website. Additionally, in the long run, DirecTV may listen more to customer demand and continue to strive to improve some of the weak areas in its service, offering more value to the customer for the money within the next few years.