There is a burning question being asked in homes across the United States. It isn’t about current legislation in Congress and it’s not about world affairs. The question that many families are struggling with and losing sleep over is the choice between cable TV or a satellite system.
Cable providers used to have a monopoly on expanded TV service, but satellite companies have brought their A game and a little bit of competition to the marketplace. Now, dishes are sprouting up in neighborhoods like mushrooms on chimneys, balconies and roofs everywhere.
There are some of the questions you should be asking yourself before you make a decision. Hopefully, this list can give you some more insight on the important factors you need to consider beforehand.
- PRICES – Satellite providers don't have to pay taxes levied by local governments and feature smaller infrastructures, leading consumers get more perks and channels with satellite. Even though, cable's low-end price is better right now, they only offer a third of the channels compared to satellite's lowest package plan. Cable companies also have millions of miles of outdated lines buried below ground, and are in the process of converting their technology to digital, which is expensive. Satellite offers lower programming packages across the board, but some of the companies charge fees per room receiving the signal.
- PROGRAMMING - Both offer similar channel packages, each offers certain advantages over the other. Satellite broadcasts both east and west coast feeds plus alternate sports programming for channels like ESPN and Fox Sports. When sports stations televise games based on regional interest, their alternate feed allows the satellite viewer the choice of any game they want. Cable counters that with cheaper priced plans for those who want good reception without paying for the 500-channel universe, and local programming not carried by satellite providers such as public access.
- EQUIPMENT – When it comes to digital programming, cable has an advantage for because there's no additional equipment needed other than a television. For a digital subscriber, cable and satellite are similar. You’ll need a converter box, remote, and compatible television for it to be functional. Satellite needs an unobstructed view of the southern sky to receive its signal, which is a huge disadvantage for renters since they may not be allowed to attach a dish.
- AVAILABILITY - Cable only reaches as far as their infrastructure of cable-wire is built while satellite has the entire southern sky. This is significant because in some deregulated markets, all cable companies don’t reach every home.
- DIGITAL, HDTV, and DVR - Cable and satellite companies are equal when it comes to digital, high definition and digital video recorders except that some satellite companies require an upfront purchase of the DVR and HD box. Others lease boxes on a monthly basis. Purchasing a receiver is an advantage over time because monthly charges can add up.
- BUNDLED SERVICES - Bundling services is basically a partnership with another telecommunication company to offer television, phone, and Internet service for one low price. An example of a bundled service is when SBC joined with Dish Network and Yahoo! to offer phone, satellite, and DSL. All major cable and satellite companies will offer some sort of one-bill service because that's the hot-trend in today's market.
- CUSTOMER SERVICE - Satellite companies do well without store fronts because of phone and online customer services. However, a store front can be convenient because they're a place to pay bills, change out equipment, and voice a compliment.
- OBLIGATION - Some satellite companies require contracts, but very few cable companies require a commitment for a minimum subscription length.
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