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What's Better: Satellite or Cable TV?

A TV.
Satellite service is the only option for some people.
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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Choosing satellite or cable TV comes down to a matter of preference in many situations, though the line between the two is becoming more blurred all the time. As TV choices become increasingly interactive, both types of TV providers are becoming proficient at offering the customers more choices more conveniently. There are benefits and drawbacks to each that can make the choice somewhat difficult. There is no clear answer to which one is better.

The first thing to consider is location. For those living in rural areas, there may not be much of a choice, since cable providers do not always reach much of the rural market, simply because of the expense needed in infrastructure improvements to reach it. Therefore, a satellite service may be only option. In places that are served by both, satellite may not be an option if there is no clear line of sight on the property between the dish and satellite. This may happen in heavily forested areas or places with many tall buildings.

Another thing to consider is the availability of local channels. When satellite service first came out, there were no local channels offered. In some cases, it may have been possible to get them from an antenna, but that was outside of the satellite service. So for those who required local channels, cable would have been the better choice. Since then, satellite service has expanded its offerings to offer local channels in many major markets, so this is less of an issue.

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In an area where satellite TV has traditionally excelled — on-demand pay-per-view — cable television has made strides in recent years. With digital cable, the some of the features of satellite or cable TV seem virtually identical. Therefore, many of these issues are no longer relevant.

Weather may affect the ability of the satellite dish to receive a signal in some instances. Especially in areas prone to severe weather or weather that may include intense cloud cover for a number of days, this is a big consideration when choosing between satellite or cable TV. No one appreciates service disruptions, and this may be one of the more common ones.

In some cases, the choice between the two may come down to a matter of customer service. Some cable companies have a poor reputation in this area, but most satellite companies do not. In the end, however, it often comes down to a matter of personal preference.

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anon225586
Post 3

I currently have DirecTV satellite service, and I previously had local cable service. It's not perfect, but I much prefer satellite to the former cable system. The installer did have difficulty locating a suitable line-of-sight for the receiver, however, and he charged an additional $75 for installing a pole in the side yard to hold the receiver. If you have a home with a lot of large trees in the yard, you may have the same line-of-sight problems when trying to install the dish on your house.

We have lost reception a few times during heavy rainstorms, but the interruption has rarely lasted more than a half-hour or so. Once the signal is disrupted, the system goes into a self-restore mode and usually comes back after a reboot. I wouldn't consider it a deal breaker, though. At least you can tell it's trying to recover, unlike being at the mercy of the cable company's repair schedule.

anon146750
Post 2

Anon51931 I couldn't agree more. Not only does DISH have the largest DVR hard drive in the industry, I have been a long time customer and I actually work at DISH now. DISH has twice as many choices as any TV provider.

anon51931
Post 1

I just registered but haven't received confirmation info yet. I wanted to add that I am retired and a snowbird. Every winter I take my satellite dish with me and enjoy full programming. This is my main reason for satellite over cable. Also the direct tv programming selection is much greater than cable. The satellite DVR is a must for movies when you want and removing annoying commercials on programs with advertising.

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