Tablo Blog

Tablo FAQs – Can I Use Satellite Dish Equipment as an OTA Antenna?

Repurposed Satellite Dish BirdbathWhile cordcutting articles tend to focus on users getting rid of cable, there are just as many people anxious to ditch their satellite dishes. Folks new to the concept of Over-the-Air TV may wonder if they can reuse their dish for something other than creating a birdbath.


The Question
Can I reuse all or part of my satellite dish equipment to receive Over-the-Air (OTA) TV signals?


The Answer
Not really. Dishes are designed to capture encrypted digital signals from satellites orbiting the earth, not to receive unencrypted OTA television signals from local broadcast towers. The Tablo DVR’s tuners are also designed for ATSC OTA signals, not cable or satelite signals.

That being said, there are portions of your satellite installation that you may be able to salvage and repurpose as you make the cordcutting transition.


Cabling and Masts
Satellite dish mast
When you first subscribed to satellite TV services, the installer likely ran a coaxial cable from the dish location and in to the house. They may have even split that initial coax run into multiple rooms in your house. This wiring can be reused simply by disconnecting the coax connecting to the rear of your satellite dish and connecting it to an Over-the-Air antenna.

Depending on its position, you may also be able to reuse the outdoor mast or mount to attach your new outdoor OTA antenna to your house. Keep in mind that OTA antennas must point in the direction of your local broadcast antennas so the mast may not be in the ideal location. If that's the case, you may be able to DIY a mast extension like this crafty person

We’ve got more antenna positioning tips here.


Other Considerations
If you live in a rural area, you may have chosen to receive TV signals via satellite dish because cableTV wasn’t available in your area. Before making the call to disconnect your satellite service, it’s always best to use a signal locator tool to ensure you can receive Over-the-Air signals. Most broadcast towers are located in or near metro areas so very rural residents may have more trouble obtaining an OTA signal.

Long story short, it’s easy to ditch your dish and become a cordcutter. While you may not be able to reuse a lot of your existing infrastructure, after a few easy steps you can start to enjoy the freedom and savings of cordcutting.  


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