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Satellite TV versus Cable TV

TV is all over the place nowadays and it is difficult to find one person who has not yet been hooked to it. While most people usually turn on their TV sets for entertainment purposes, this form of entertainment also plays other important roles.

satellite           versus            cable

It has mainly become a convenient source of information for people from all around the world. By simply clicking on the remote and surfing through different channels, one would be able to see different news programs from all over the world. Aside from this, there are also a lot of informative shows and documentaries which allow viewers to become more aware about certain events, issues and stories.

As unlikely as it may seem, education is also one of the main areas where television has a great impact; this is especially the case in young children. There are a lot of shows, especially cartoons, which do not simply entertain them but also educate them and develop important motor and psychosocial skills.

The 2 Popular Television Distribution Systems:

Today, there are various ways for people to gain access to various TV shows offered by different channels. Two of the main providers of entertainment in television are cable and satellite TV.

1) Cable TV (Click here for more information on how cable TV works)

During the 50’s, the U.S. only had four TV networks. The frequencies being allotted to TV cause the signals to be received only from within the line of sight of the transmitting antenna. Those who are in remote areas like mountain regions did not receive any television service.

The solution of some people in remote valleys is that they put up antennas on hills and connected it to their houses through cables. Nowadays, the same technology is still being used in order to allow homes from various areas to access the different programs and channels according to their needs and tastes. By the start of the 90’s, fifty per cent of homes in the United States already had cable TV.

These days, a wide variety of services can be obtained through the cable system. Cable companies in America bring hundreds of channels to around 60 million households. Along with this, it has also started to provide high speed internet access. There are even some cable providers which allow you to make phone calls.

2) Satellite TV (Click here for more information on how satellite TV works)

Years passed and soon another means of transmitting the frequencies of television channels to households became popular. This is now known as "satellite TV".

With this type of technology, broadcasters produce content then agree with providers who are willing to carry their programs. As soon as the content is produce, it is sent to the satellite provider. This will be encrypted into a digital format and then transferred to an uplink station in space. This station will transmit the digital information back to the earth and to the homes of the subscribers.
The subscribers have a dish installed in their homes which receives the signals from the satellite. The dishes usually range from one to three feet in size. Subscribers may also opt to get larger dishes which are able to increase the signal and are less susceptible to outages. The dish is placed outside the house and is connected to a smaller receiver box indoors which is then connected to the television. There are no cable connections connecting the different subscribers so there is smaller room for errors ad problems.

The end user will be able to receive the channels from the satellite according to the subscription that they signed up for. The availability of channels to choose from depends upon the satellite provider. This whole system can be set up anywhere as long as the satellite dish will have a clear and unobstructed view of the sky.


A Battle Between Cable and Satellite TV

The earliest source of better television channels and reception is cable TV. By the end of the 90’s, almost all homes in America had cable TV installed. However, the market has been divided since the development of satellite TV teechnology. A lot of people started to make the switch and for many reasons at that.

Many of the cable TV subscribers switched to satellite for lower cost and better picture. But there are also those who would prefer to stick to cable TV out of convenience. For those who find it difficult to decide which among the two providers you should go for, here’s an overview of the most significant differences between satellite and cable TV.


Differences Between Satellite and Cable TV:

Basic Differences

A series of antennas and cable connections were necessary in order to bring the services to the public. As the signal from the antenna travels through the wires, it becomes weaker and amplifiers have to boost the signal strength at regular intervals. One of the most significant issues in the use of the cable system is the need to use these amplifiers to regulate signal strength.

In a cable system, the signal would have gone through a series of amplifiers before being able to reach the subscriber’s house. There would certainly be some sort of noise distortion as the signal passes through each amplifier. Moreover, if the amplifiers fail, the picture would also disappear. It is only in the recent years when this technology has been improved but there are still some glitches when it comes to the transmission of signals through the long cable lines.

On the other hand, there are also certain issues in the newer satellite TV technology. The installation process can be a bit more complex compared to the regular cable TV. A lot more equipment and wires are required.

While it has gotten rid of the issues when it comes to transmission, there is also a problem when it comes to interruption of signals coming to the dish. Tree branches, wind and weather conditions may also affect the quality of the sound and picture which you can get from satellite TV.

Choosing between the two

Given the fact that there are both pros and cons for each type of service, it is best to take a closer look into the main differences between the two and compare them closely so you can make a better choice.


Differences in terms of cost:

Most cable companies include local franchise fees along with local broadcasting fees on your monthly bill. Digital cable varies starting at $30-$40 per month and up depending on the package you choose it can go up as high as $90 per month.

Most digital cable providers include local franchise fees together with the local broadcasting fee in your monthly charges. The prices of digital cable range from 30 to forty bucks per month depending on the channels and package that you choose. Premium packages can go as high as 90 bucks per month.

Meanwhile, satellite TV providers usually have better deals when it comes to cost. Some companies can give packages for as low as 25 bucks for about fifty channels. Initial costs of installing a satellite TV and paying its monthly fees might be a bit higher compared to that of cable TV on the onset but in the long run, it proves to be a much cheaper alternative.


Differences in Programming:

Satellite TV packages usually carry around 250 channels of programming. All these channels have digital quality sound and picture. Most satellite TV providers also offer high definition programming compatible with the satellite dish and your TV. A disadvantage would be that satellite TV providers usually carry lesser local channels and may not even offer local ones in some areas.

On the other hand, digital cable TV supports more than 300 channels of programming which also have digital picture and sound. Cable TV providers usually carry more local channels and are available in both bigger and smaller cities. Another advantage is the video on demand feature in cable TVs. This includes a library of movies and TV shows which are available and the subscriber can order for it as he pleases.

Unlike in the past, even digital cable TV providers now offer high definition channels. This used to be one major difference between the two but the playing field has already been levelled through technological innovation.


Differences in Equipment:

Satellite equipment typically includes a satellite dish that is installed outside the home that is visible to everyone. A satellite receiver is also essential per TV. Most satellite receivers today also come with a PVR (Personal Video Recorder) which the cable company has not yet been able to offer as of now. Most satellite companies run specials on free installation and equipment when you agree to a 12 month contract.

Digital cable also requires one receiver per TV but that is all the equipment needed. Should you disconnect your service, the receivers will be turned into the cable company whereas with Satellite TV, you own the dish.

Differences in Installation:

To install cable TV, you’ll need the services of an expert technician if you want something more than just basic cable services, you should also rent a cable box and a remote control from the cable company. However, if there’s already a cable line installed in your home, you wouldn’t have to get a technician. You can easily do it on your own.

On the contrary, the installation of the satellite TV system is a bit more complicated.  A satellite dish has to be mounted on the roof or on any high and open air location in the house. Then it has to be connected to your digital box which translates the signal and transmits it into your television screen. The dish is required to face the southern hemisphere. So if you live in a house where the south side has an impaired view like a wall or any other obstruction, the installation of the dish can pose a major issue.

It would usually take a lot of time and effort if you would do the installation of the dish yourself. Moreover, since there is a lot of equipment that have to be put up, a deeper understanding of how the system works is also necessary.

Comparing Picture Quality:

In terms of picture quality the satellite TV can offer a much clearer programming. This is due to the fact that satellite signals are digital. However, as technology also evolves, most cable companies nowadays are also able to carry digital signals and provide just as good digital picture and sound quality.

Differences in Reception:

Digital cable TV systems rarely have reception problems. Losing reception would only occur if the cable lines have been severed.

Meanwhile, there are various issues when it comes to satellite TV reception. Every time there’s something that comes between the satellite dish and the southern sky, the reception is usually affected. These obstructions could be a bird, a tree branch, falling leaves, rain or snowfall. A slight change in the position of the dish can also have an effect on the reception.

In sum, you have to consider the different factors that could affect your TV viewing experience before you decide which one to choose. It all depends on your own circumstances and personal preferences.


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