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How Do I Choose Between Cable Providers?

Side shot of an F Connector for cable TVThere are a number of different cable provider names that we’re all familiar with–DISH Network and DirectTV among others. So how can people really tell one cable provider from another and know which provider is the right fit for them? Let’s answer some basic questions to get us started.

What is cable?

RF or radio frequency signals transmit cable television programming through light pulses via fiber optic cables. Whoa! Lots of big words! Cable channels, or a cable network, are a television network offered through cable television. When offered through satellite television, which includes “direct broadcast satellite providers” such as DirecTV and Dish Network, it is referred to as a satellite channel. For any given location to receive cable TV, cable distribution lines have to be available on the location’s utility poles or utility lines, located underground.

What is a cable provider?

Like every competitive business, cable providers operate and succeed by offering their clients something that the other providers do not. Very often the term satellite TV and cable is used interchangeably. When people say, “do you have cable” they are really asking whether or not you have TV channels, which are not available locally. However, there are some differences between cable and satellite.

What is satellite?

Satellite TV and internet services are offered via a satellite internet provider. Similar to cable, satellite internet requires a professionally installed modem. It is operated by sending a signal to a satellite that is actually orbiting the Earth, which sends the signal back to a satellite dish sitting outside of your home. Yep, we know… this is crazy stuff.

So what’s the difference between providers?

There are a number of factors that differentiate satellite and cable providers.
Cost. Provider cost varies based on distributor and the perks they offer. Let your cable company know what you enjoy watching and what special features you’re looking for.
Reliability. Because of communication avenues, various providers offer better service in particular areas. For example, a mountainous region may have certain restrictions when it comes to finding a signal from satellite and other companies may have invested in local towers and communication tools that offer better transmission and speed.
Channels. Some providers offer more channels. For example, DISH offers more channels than DirectTV. (For you Sports fans, the NFL Sunday Ticket is a DirecTV exclusive!)
Customer Service. There are providers who go above and beyond for their clients, and those who don’t.

The best way to sort through cable providers and choose the one that’s right for you is talking it over with your installer. Let them know what you are looking to get out of your TV watching experience and the types of programming you’re most interested in. Last but not least, don’t forget to tell them what your budget is. They’ll fill you in on cable provider deals happening throughout the year.

Ben Price