Cable vs. Satellite: Which Should I Choose?

Published : 02/17/2015 00:00:00

Cable vs. Satellite?

TV Screen with Cable TV

Satellite vs Cable?

Satellite dish

Which should I choose?

The answer depends on what exactly you are looking for. Is it price? Reception quality? Availability? Access? The amount of channels?

Cable TV delivers television programming to your home or business via radio frequency signals that are transmitted through coaxial or fiber-optic cables. Reception quality can be either analog or digital. Availability is limited to whether or not there is access to cables in your area.

On the other hand, satellite TV delivers television programming via communications satellites received on an outdoor antenna, that is, a satellite dish. Since these dishes only need a southern sky exposure, they can be installed anywhere. However, reception is susceptible to heavy winds, bad weather or a damaged dish. Reception quality is 100% digital.

See the following chart for more comparisons.





Delivers television programming via radio frequency signals transmitted through coaxial or fiber-optic cables

Delivers television programming via communications satellites received on an outdoor antenna, a satellite dish


Cable box

Dish and box


Over 300 channels

Over 250 channels

Reception Quality

Analog and digital

100% digital

Weather Durability

Affected by downed lines or power outages.

Affected by heavy wind, bad weather, or damaged dish.


Limited by access to cables.

Needs southern sky exposure.


Technician to install box

Technician to install dish


About $45/month

About $40/month

Interactive Controls

For digital cable: electronic program guide, video on demand, subscription services on demand for most areas

Electronic program guides, pay per view, DVR functionality

Plan Variety/Bundle Services

Readily available

Sometimes available


Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, Cox Communications, Cablevision

DirecTV, DISH Network


Whether you choose cable or satellite for your home or business is dependent on your residential or commercial needs.

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