Comcast Cable Vs. Satellite

by Contributor

America's number one cable television provider Comcast and America's two major satellite providers have been facing off for years now. With the age of HDTV, some thought a decisive blow would be delivered to one of them. That hasn't been the case. The decision of which provider to choose is still as contentious and confusing. There really isn't a right answer. It's a decision based upon your own personal concerns and situation.

Location

Where you live will have a significant impact on your choice. For example, DirectTV requires an unobstructed view of the southwestern sky. If you have thick overhanging trees and shade, you may have difficulty getting a clear look to the sky. If you're unable or unwilling to keep your trees trimmed away, your decision is already made. Conversely, if you live in a rural area (though these areas are constantly shrinking with cable's expansion), you may not be able to get wired cable service, either. Obviously, these factors could make the decision for you.

Comparisons

If you're like most people, you'll make a choice between cable and satellite. There are some fundamental differences that might persuade you immediately. Satellite providers have a direct link to an orbiting dish in the sky. Because of that, you'll be unaffected by downed cable lines in your neighborhood (assuming the electricity still works). Conversely, strong weather patterns or even simply cloud coverage in rare circumstances will affect your dish's ability to connect with the broadcast.

Rent or Own?

In many ways, the decision between cable and satellite is a decision between ownership or rental. With satellite, you essentially own your equipment and thus are responsible for its upkeep. Because of that fact, you pay upfront for your equipment (receivers and dishes are generally given as part of a contract agreement) but pay a lower monthly fee. With Comcast, you rent your equipment and have no contract. In turn, if your box is damaged by a storm the cable company will replace it with no additional cost to you, but you pay a larger monthly fee. Again, these factors alone may make the decision for you.

Service

Both Comcast and satellite like to tout their high customer-satisfaction ratings. Unfortunately, the reality is less clear. There are scores of horror stories from customers about both companies. Given that, it's tough to say which company will give you the best possible customer service. Ask your friends and neighbors. Eventually, you may find some evidence to sway you.

Hi Def

In reality, most customers are less interested in how their service is provided and more interested in what programming options are available. DirecTV has spent the bulk of its advertising slamming cable's "lack" of HD programming. Comcast has taken a slightly higher road, selling themselves as an all-in-one Internet, telephone and television provider. DirecTV suggests that it has "130 HD channels," and in one sense it's true. If you count every channel it offers, you'll get the magic 130 number. However, it's important to note that dozens of the channels are tied up in movie, sports and additional channel packages that you may or may not want. For example, DirectTV counts all of the channels that broadcast its Major League Baseball package as separate channels. Unless you subscribe to the sports and movie packages, you'll end up with less than 50 HD channels. Comcast doesn't attempt to dupe customers in this way, but it lags in total number of HD channels with somewhere between 20 to 35, depending on the market. Spend some time with the channel lineups for your area and be sure that whichever service you choose it has the channels you want most.

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