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Cable vs Satellite TV Service

Cable vs Satellite TV Service – Whats The Difference

People are often torn between cable and satellite TV services. While there are a few things that set them apart, you might be surprised to learn that both services work in almost a similar manner. Nowadays, people have busy lifestyles working from morning till evening for seven days a week. Whenever you can get the time, you probably want to sit down, relax on the couch and watch some of your favourite TV shows. That’s why it’s important for you to choose a TV service that is most suitable for your specific needs.

When comparing cable and satellite TV services, you can’t really say one is better than the other. They both work perfectly well to deliver the kind of entertainment you need. Aside from that, there are advantages and disadvantages that come with either of the services. Identifying and understanding the differences between cable and satellite TV is a great step towards making the right choice.

Cable vs Satellite TV Service Comparison

Equipment and installation

The two options work differently, and hence the equipment used is not the same. This is something you should put into consideration because there are some costs incurred in purchasing the equipment together with any inconveniences from the installation.

Basically, cable installation is not that complicated and requires less equipment to set up. These are usually a coaxial cable for the connection and a set-top box or decoder. If your house does not already have a cable line, you will have to get a technician to do the installation. Some service providers even offer free installation to their customers or at a small fee. Also, in some instances, people are able to set up the cable TV service themselves if there is an existing cable line in the home.

People using satellite TV service need a satellite dish, a receiver and other equipment depending on their particular needs. There are a number of things to factor in when thinking of a satellite tv service. One of them is the number of television sets in your house receiving the signal. Secondly, you have to determine whether you want to receive signals from only one satellite or more. All these either increase or decrease the number of equipment needed.

The satellite dish must be installed on the roof of the house and face the right direction, which is normally south. The receiver should be carefully positioned in the house. Self-installation is most likely difficult and time-consuming. However, you can pay a small fee and get the service providers to do the installation. Keep in mind; there are obstacles such as tall buildings and a colossal tree which can make the installation challenging.

To say the least, cable TV service is easier to install and requires only a few equipments to get it functioning. There are also fewer technical constraints associated with it.

Picture quality and reception

Picture quality is a key element when deciding between the satellite and cable TV service. Technology grows quite fast, and most of the television models are HDTV. This means that such a television supports all the resolutions ranging from 720p all the way to 4K. With that in mind, it’s important to be aware of the resolution transmitted through satellite and cable services.

Starting with the cable television service, there are some limitations to critically think about. Normally, the coaxial cable used is responsible for the type of resolution suitable for cable television. Therefore, talk to the service provider and see what they can do in case you need a higher resolution. However, due to bandwidth issues, most providers limit their broadcasting to 720p and sometimes even less.

Satellite TV services may be the best option for people who want a greater picture quality. Unlike the cable, satellite television tends to have fewer issues or limits. As a matter of fact, the majority of the channels are broadcasted in 1080p which is much better than the cables 720p.

Another thing I have to talk about is the reception. There is typically clear signal quality on a satellite TV only when no obstructions exist between the dish and southern sky. This means that you will have good reception with a satellite TV service as long as there are no obstacles like trees and buildings in the line of sight. However, heavy rains interrupt the service and result in poor signal quality for a short period.

On the other hand, bad weather does not affect cable TV, and for this reason, it never loses its reception ever not unless the cable line is cut somewhere along its route which is also a rare occurrence.


Pricing is always a key comparison factor. This is because as much as people want the best of everything, you can only go for what you can afford. Both cable and satellite service providers go the extra mile to emerge with some offers meant to lure customers. Consequently, it can be super confusing to choose the most budget-friendly option. Also, the prices of both services may vary depending on the location.

The best way to determine the pocket-friendly option is by looking at the packages offered and their pricing. Each package has a certain number of channels, and when you compare the two services, you will find out that one of them provides more channels at a lower price. Other than that, there are bundling services where you receive internet, phone and TV service from the same service provider at a lower price.

Most cable companies don’t require their customers to commit to a year-long contract. All you have to do is pay monthly to remain connected. This is definitely a good idea for people who wouldn’t want to get stuck with one provider for a whole year or even two. The price of a basic cable TV package can go for as low as $15. However, this offers minimum programming. On average, the amount you have to pay to get premium channels is $60.

On the other hand, in order to receive the services of a satellite company, you are required to sign either a one or two year contract. This shouldn’t be a problem for people who don’t mind the set monthly payments. The basic satellite package costs about $50, but it contains more channels.

After digging around, I came to the conclusion that the satellite TV service offers the best pricing when compared to cable TV. As a matter of fact, you receive more channels at a lower price. This means that if you are on a tight budget, then you are better off with the satellite service.

Available programming

When it comes to programming, both cable and satellite TV services shine through. They both offer a wide array of TV channels to their customers. In most cases, the channels provided on satellite television are also broadcasted by cable TV. This makes it quite difficult to choose between the two.

Generally, the cable is considered more suitable for local programming. This is mainly because there are a few local channels that are not carried by the satellites. However, if you want to watch the premium channels, you can also get them here but at a high cost.

The satellites are capable of transmitting signals from anywhere across the globe. For this reason, satellite TV offers some international programming that may not be found on cable.

All in all, cable and satellite programming does not differ that much. In case the price is a determining factor for you, then satellite TV is the best available option. Mostly, the basic satellite package is equivalent to the premium one on cable. Aside from that, there is really no big difference in their channel choices.


Versatility is one of the important factors to consider. It’s human to not know about the future, and hence flexibility is vital. The cable and satellite services operate on different technologies. For this reason, they largely differ in terms of versatility.

The satellite TV uses wireless technology to transmit the signal. Thus, in case you move to another location, there won’t be any issue to worry about. Regardless of the service provider, the satellite boxes are all the same. Once you have settled in your new home, the next thing to do is call a service provider who will then set up a dish antenna. Remember that a clear view of the sky is mandatory for satellite TV to work. All said and done; there is more flexibility and convenience with the satellite services.

On the other side, cable TV is not as versatile as its counterpart. For starters, they use a wired connection to transmit signals. The cables are usually physically run from the service company all the way to the house. For this reason, when moving to another home, you are forced to leave the equipment behind. Furthermore, limited availability is common with many of the cable service providers. Hence, there is no guarantee your current provider serves the area you are moving to. If not, you have to ultimately cancel the service and get another company at your new home.


One of the main advantages of satellite television is of wide availability. It has coverage across the country, and anywhere there is a clear sight of the sky. For most people living in rural areas, satellite service is their only option. This is because many of the cable service providers have a limited coverage area and often exclude the rural areas.

While satellite seems like the better option when it comes to coverage, there are still some setbacks to keep in mind. One of them is the fact that there should be no obstacles in the direction the satellite dish is facing. Therefore, a tall building, tree or a shared wall may interfere with the signal transmission. It’s also affected by bad weather or heavy cloud cover.

If you are not living in the rural areas, then you have all the other ways to determine which way to go.


I had mentioned earlier that bundling services could aid in saving on costs. This is very true, and it’s something you should consider. The truth is most people need home internet. That’s why cable and satellite providers often offer internet service. As it is with any technology, one of them is usually better than the other in particular aspects. In this situation, there is an option which delivers the internet at a faster rate, and it’s more reliable.

Mostly, the cable can deliver a faster internet connection. Furthermore, the already installed cable lines are used for the internet, making the setup super easy and convenient. For this reason, the cable takes the lead as the better option.

On the other hand, if you need internet access through the satellite system, you have to get a separate dish for this purpose. Also, its internet is generally slower since its DSL.

Between cable and satellite, which one should I get?

The choice of whether to go with cable or satellite entirely depends on you. Furthermore, there are other things to put into consideration, such as location, price and the amount of money you are willing and able to pay.

The cable is best suited for those people who are looking for reliability, don’t want long term contracts and want the cheapest option. A satellite is basically the best available option for those living in rural areas and is sports fanatics.

Cable vs Satellite TV FAQs

Is satellite TV any good?

Yes, satellite TV service is just as excellent as cable TV. Once the satellite dish is properly installed, it works perfectly well.

Is cable TV the same as satellite TV?

Both function the same way by allowing you to watch particular channels within a signal. However, they use different technologies. Cable uses a wired connection while satellite transmits signals through wireless.

Which is the best satellite TV provider?

DirecTV is a good satellite TV provider for sports fans and people that want high-quality channels. The dish is also another alternative for the people looking for affordable TV subscriptions. The cheapest TV providers depend on your needs and the number of channels. AT&T, Verizon Fios, Xfinity are all affordable satellite TV subscriptions.


It’s important to figure out what works best for you and then pick your choice. We have given you all the information on the differences between cable and satellite services in various aspects. Hopefully, this will help you make an informed decision.

Jill Burns
Jill Burns
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My internet and cable provider that shall not be named was raising my monthly bill. I later found out that there were were better discounts with no contracts. Now I'm only paying a fixed $92 dollars a month for cable and internet
John Hollaway
John Hollaway
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Without warning from the provider, I get a bill thats $30 more expensive than the last month. I had a word with the customer service about the constant drop outs My friend told me about your website Theme Scene and now im getting wifi for $29 per month
Marie Williams
Marie Williams
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If I called you earlier I would have saved myself 10 months of grief with my previous provider. Thank you

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