Cable vs Satellite: What Are the Pros and Cons of Each?

 In the last few years, nearly 33 million households have cut the cord when it comes to cable. However, there is an increasing number of people who choose to go with satellite for their TV  needs. Choosing cable vs satellite requires you to learn all about how the two services work.

Here are four points that can help you understand the pros and cons of each one.

1. Getting The Right Equipment

When comparing cable to satellite TV, you need to think about what kind of equipment you need to have.

If you go with satellite, you’ll need a small dish that will be mounted somewhere nearby. Some people put it on their roof while others place the dish in their yard. If you’re very particular about the design of your home, this might not be the ideal look and feel that you want to have.

You need your satellite to be properly aligned to the exact line of sight and the correct angle to the satellite you’re going to be connecting to. If you’re working with DIRECTV, they’ll give you directions and tell you everything that you need to know when it comes to getting aligned. With the signal bouncing from space to your satellite and then your TV, you’ll be encouraged to have a phone line installed to give you updates.

Cable TV could be simpler or could be more complex depending on how things are set up in your home. If you already have a line installed or you’re renting your place, there could be a line that’s ready to plug in and give you service. Sometimes, a technician will have to come and install an outside cable line to your home to connect to your receiver or the TV directly.

2. Understanding the Rates

The rates for cable versus satellite are very different. Satellite TV rates are going to be fixed and based on the local and national channel packages that you order. You’ll also have to factor in any equipment and installation costs that you get hit with, as those could be one-time or recurring based on the company who you work with.

If you want premium pay channels or any on-demand orders of movies, those will factor into your satellite rates. Many people with satellite TV like to order live sports events or special events that are broadcast pay-per-view. Satellite companies might also charge you for any extra receivers that you need to watch on multiple screens throughout your home.

If you’reinterested in cable, rates are going to vary from city to city and depend on how much competition any company has. When a company has very little competition, they can set their own rates and go as high or as low as they want. When there are a lot of companies, you might find that the prices are lower and the kinds of deals you can get are much more valuable3.

Cable companies will offer to “bundle” services, giving you internet, TV, and phone altogether in a package to try to attract you. More and more satellite companies are starting to go in this direction as well as a response but they’re a little bit behind the cable companies.

3. Troubleshooting Tactics Vary

When you have a problem with your satellite, it’s most likely that your problem is going to be with signal issues. If there’s a heavy snow or rainfall, your dish could be disrupted and the signal could have problems. If it gets banged up by in a hailstorm or because of a fallen tree branch, you might need to reset the alignment by a few degrees.

On-screen guides are usually able to help you ensure that you get your satellite back on track. If your dish is covered with snow, taking a light broom or brush to it can help you solve your problems.

With cable, it’s harder to troubleshoot issues yourself. Often the issues will need to be handled by a utility company or by tech support. If you end up with an outage, you might need to have services reset or to have a support technician come look at your connection.

Local support is sometimes easier to find than with a satellite. Usually, the offices for tech support are just a short drive away. However, your satellite provider is more likely to be a national service provider, and will require you to be near a larger metropolitan area to get help.

Otherwise, they’ll contract services out to a local company to handle things.

4. Knowing the Limitations

If you live in an area that’s difficult to get to, then you might struggle to find the correct line of sight to get a signal to your satellite. In the forest or near mountains, it’s going to be challenging to get the kind of signal that you’re looking for.

When you live out in a remote or mountainous area, you might have to struggle to get the kind of signal you need. Either you’ll have to build a rig to hold your satellite or you might have to mount it far from where your home is located.

If you use a cable company, you’ll find that there are more areas that are being connected than ever before. Although cable companies have been working to get the country more connected, there are still some rural areas that lack service.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association shows that most of the country is now connected. With more than  90% of households ready for cable, there are only a small fraction of homes that still need to be connected.

There’s No Answer in the Satellite Vs Cable War

Depending on where you are, your budget, and your watching habits, you might find that there’s a solution that’s a clear winner. If not, you should trust your gut and go with value, moreso than just price when choosing satellite vs cable.

If you use your signal for watching Netflix, check out our guide to what you should be watching.

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