A transponder is the antenna, receiver and transmitter combination on the satellite. Each satellite has multiple transponders, about 32 typically, some of which may be inactive.
By knowing from which transponder and satellite data for a particular program service originates, one may observe signal level and stability for that particular transponder via the setup menu of one's home receiver. Transmit power levels are not necessarily identical for all transponders.
My standard DirecTV channels aren't working, but my HD ones work fine. I have a very strong signal stregnth, but I think there may be a problem with the transponder. I don't know how long it's been like this. I don't watch the other HBOs that often, just HBO-HD and HDNet.
I only have the HBO package, but when I switch on channel 501, or 502, it just say "Searching for satellite signal" (or something to that effect).
Has your oval dish moved? Lotta wind lately? Might need repositioning.
If that's not it, check the cables between the 101 LNB and your multiswitch. If they check out, trade the LNBs and see if the problem reverses itself. Finally, bypass the multiswitch and hook the 101 LNB directly into the receiver. Use the DirecTV "customer information" channel to check your 101 reception. It's always "open" no matter what package you have.
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