Satellite television long ago outstripped cable in popularity all across the nation. Now the big debate is between the two leading suppliers of satellite TV, DirecTV and Dish Network. Each of the services offers a comprehensive channel lineup, both of them offer DVRs and both of them have pay per view and several other similarities (though DirecTV is the undisputed HDTV leader). One significant area that consumers find debatable, though, is the choice of renting or owning their equipment.
Both methods have pros and cons. Let's look at owning the equipment first. DirecTV is the only satellite company that gives you the option to own your equipment. The good thing about this method is that once purchased, the equipment is yours to keep. You can use it, sell it or throw it away; it doesn't matter, you bought it. This method also saves some money in the end since you don't have to constantly “rent" your equipment for additional fees. However, if you change satellite service providers, you are now stuck with a dish and receiver (maybe more!) that you no longer need.
Renting your equipment, though, also has some benefits. Dish Network rents their equipment, rather than selling it. Since this equipment never belongs to you, you can send it back when you change service providers. In addition, repairs to the equipment are at the cost of the company (minus a service charge, of course), unlike with the owning method. However, since you are not purchasing the equipment, the rental fee is actually part of your subscription payment and you will pay this as long as you are using Dish Network.
So, both methods entail costs, though one is completely up front and the other is throughout the life of the contract. There are ways around both issues, though. Many satellite television installation companies offer free systems with free installation. Is this really free? Well, yes and no. They are usually only applicable for new accounts and they require additional programming. Basic programming almost never comes with any perks. To access real savings, you have to upgrade your programming. This can be almost any upgraded package, though, so you get a wide range of options. Sports packages, family packages, comprehensive packages that include almost all available channels and HD packages can all be used to get free systems and free installation.
In addition, DirecTV , at least, is offering some great additional deals at the moment. New installs can get free installation and free equipment, plus a mail in rebate for an HD DVR, standard DVR or even HD channels. Choosing to own or rent your equipment is ultimately up to you, though you should research each company and find the best introductory offer available.
Whitney Alen is a Direct TV expert and has over 10 years experience in the satellite TV industry.