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Comparing Cable and Satellite

Bapun Raz

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There's a lot of debate over whether satellite television providers or cable television providers offer superior service, value, and program selection. But when you compare cable television with a satellite television provider like Dish Network, there really is no comparison. Dish Network is able to offer more programming in more different areas than cable television, and all of it with the high quality of a completely digital signal.

For example, Dish Network offers programming packages starting at about $20 while cable packages start at around $70. Dish Network can also deliver well over 200 channels, while cable providers top out at around 100. Dish Network can deliver special seasonal sports subscriptions like MLB Extra Innings, ESPN Gameday, NHL on the Ice, and NBA League Pass, while cable just provides your local sports programming. Dish Network also lets you hook up extra televisions for no additional charge while cable bills you at upwards of an extra $5 per television. Dish Network offers free equipment upgrades to help you get a digital video recorder or HDTV. Cable doesn't bother.

So how is Dish Network able to deliver so much more while charging so much less money? The answer is simple: Dish Network doesn't rely on cables to deliver it's programming. Dish Network's digital television signals are sent from a broadcasting station on the Earth's surface up to satellites orbiting 25,000 miles above the equator. The satellites bounce the signals back to the Earth where they can be picked up by anyone who has a satellite dish and receiver capable of decoding them. The electromagnetic waves that carry the signals are essentially free and don't have any inherent limit on the amount of data they can carry. Cables on the other hand cost money to buy and install, and will always be limited in the amount of data they can carry. In other words, while cable companies struggle to improve their infrastructure to meet the constantly growing demand for more data intensive TV technology, Dish Network can simply concentrate on finding better ways to deliver that technology to it's customers.

Another advantage that Dish Network has is that it operates on a greater scale. Most cable companies are local affairs which means that each company operates in a limited area with limited customers. Those limited customers have to bear the brunt of all of the costs associated with running the business. Dish Network on the other hand is a nationwide company that spreads it's administrative costs out over it's 12 million customers. This means that Dish Network costs less to run for each customer than cable and the savings can be passed on to the customers and used to improve programming and technology. Also because of the fact that Dish Network's satellites are broadcasting their signals everywhere, there's no limit on the number of people who can sign up for the service. All you need to get Dish Network service is a place where you can set up a dish and aim it at a patch of sky to the south. But if you want cable TV service and you're too far out of town, you're simply out of luck.

To give credit where credit is due, cable providers are trying to catch up, but considering the disadvantages of their technology and their business model they're simply too far behind. Satellite TV companies like Dish Network will continue to move forward in meeting the high demands of television enthusiasts everywhere.


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