Is Satellite TV More Dependable Than Cable TV?

Cable TV was first used in 1948 to give rural areas access to popular programs they couldn't receive with an antenna. Operators could pick up signals from hundreds of miles away and transmit them back to these areas. Eventually, this changed the focus of cable providers from simply broadcasting local channels to providing various programming content.

After multiple television channels came into existence, the development of satellite technology quickly followed. The first time Satellite TV became available was when BBC transmitter engineer Stephen Birkhill managed to receive a transmission from a satellite over Indian villages. By 1978, networks started using Satellite TV, and there has been an ongoing migration of ground-based television signals to orbiting satellites ever since.

Although some people believe that Cable and Satellite TV are outdated methods of watching television, many people still use them because of their global coverage. Nowadays, cable or satellite TV providers can give their customers an impressive array of content and services they can enjoy anytime. 

Both options offer great benefits. However, which one is better? Is Satellite TV more dependable than Cable TV? In this article, we'll compare the two so you can make an informed decision about what's best for you. Whether you're a long-time cable subscriber or just thinking about switching, read on for all the details!

What You Should Know About Satellite TV 

Satellite TV is best known for providing people access to channels from all over the world. Think about all those times when you've been on vacation and wished you could watch the big game back home or catch up on your favorite shows. That's when satellite TV comes in handy.

Now it's time for an in-depth look at what satellite TV is, how it works, and what equipment you need to get it up and running.

What is Satellite TV

Satellite TV is a television broadcast delivery system that uses satellites to transmit signals from one place on Earth to another. This means you can watch channels and programs from any country worldwide with a satellite receiver.

How Does Satellite TV Work

Satellite TV technology uses antennas called satellite dishes. These dishes send signals to a receiver, such as a set-top box or module in a TV set. The programming source sends signals to a provider broadcast center, which are picked up by a small satellite dish and cast onto television sets.

What You Should Know About Cable TV

Cable TV, which was once a novelty for only some households, has become the primary digital television source. The growth of cable television over the past 50 years has given rise to hundreds of programming networks in almost every home today.

The following section will focus on understanding Cable TV and how it works.

What is Cable TV

Cable TV is a subscription television service that delivers programming to subscribers via radio frequency signals transmitted through cables.

How Does Cable TV Work

Two types of cables are used to transmit cable TV signals - coaxial and fiber optic cables. A coaxial cable is an electrical cable that uses an inner conductor and an outer shield. The inner conductor carries the signal, while the outer shield helps to protect the inner conductor from electromagnetic interference and noise.

On the other hand, a fiber-optic cable uses light to transmit signals. It has an inner core made of glass or plastic, which houses the laser that sends the signal.

Cable TV Vs. Satellite TV

Cable TV and Satellite TV have their strengths and weaknesses, making it difficult to decide which option is the best for you.

But there's no need to worry. Here is an in-depth comparison of the essential elements to consider when choosing a TV provider.


At first glance, it would appear that cable TV is less expensive than satellite. Cable TV's maximum price is $105, while satellite can reach up to $150.

However, cable TV generally offers fewer channels than satellite on their basic packages, so you'll pay more to maintain an equal number of viewing options. In addition, cable TV providers often increase prices after the first year, while satellite providers guarantee their rates for two years.

Winner: Satellite TV

Price comparison between cable and satellite providers


Both cable and satellite providers carry a similar range of channels that will only differ in type and quality. If you only need to watch local news or some primetime shows, cable TV will work fine. However, if images and sound clarity are important to you, it might be better to get satellite TV.

Winner: Tie


Cable TV is easier to install and requires less equipment: a single outlet, coaxial cable, and a set-top box. On the other hand, satellite providers require installing a dish outside your house, which must be free of debris and pointed in the right direction to function properly.

Winner: Cable TV

Digital Video Recorder (DVR)

DVRs are recordings of live TV that you can watch at a more convenient time. This service is often cheaper with satellite providers. For example, a satellite provider DIRECTV offers plans with a Genie DVR included in the package.

Winner: Satellite TV

DVR prices for cable TV and satellite TV


Satellite TV delivers service through antennas, providing access to channels nationwide, regardless of location. You can receive good satellite signals if you have a clear view of the sky. 

Cable television is also available in many places, but it's less widespread than satellite TV because coaxial cables have to be installed by providers.

Winner: Satellite TV


Cable and satellite television signals can sometimes be interrupted. However, since satellite dishes are located outside, they are more vulnerable to interruption and damage from storms, high winds, heavy fog, snow, and other natural phenomena.

Cable TV is more reliable as it relies on physical cables that providers install. This means that cable TV is less likely to be affected by bad weather or other external factors. As a result, cable TV is a more dependable option for television service. 

Winner: Cable TV

Other Factors To Consider When Choosing Between Satellite and Cable TV

There are other essential factors to keep in mind when choosing between Cable or Satellite TV providers. For example, bundle services can be a significant advantage in terms of time and money savings. 

Cable TV vs Satellite TV

Here are some other key factors worth considering:


Before you install a satellite dish, check with your landlord, homeowners association, or building owner to see if it's allowed. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has restrictions on where satellite antennas can be placed, so it's better to review the latest FCC guidelines and regulations before installing satellite dishes.

Contracts and Agreements

When it comes to contracts, it's essential to read the fine print. After all, you don't want to be stuck with a service you don't need or want. A few key parts of a contract you should examine are the length of the agreement, what services are included in the bundle, hidden fees, and cancellation fees.


If you want satellite TV, a big dish must be put on your roof. If you're renting, this could become an issue since you'd have to take it with you when you move out. With a Cable TV subscription, though, you need to set up a cable box or DVR from your provider - which might even be available for rent.

Bundle Services

Bundling services together can be more convenient, as it means paying only one bill instead of multiple. Cable TV providers frequently offer bundles, while satellite TV companies may need to partner with other carriers to provide internet, phone, and other services.

Customer Satisfaction

Before making a final decision, consider customer satisfaction by looking at surveys, reviews, and industry rankings. The feedback you'll find may surprise you and can become extremely useful in making your decision!

The Bottom Line

The choice between cable and satellite TV services can be difficult. If we base our decision on factors such as cost, quality, or the number of channels, then Satellite TV wins. But ultimately, what we're looking for is DEPENDABILITY. And in that category, Cable TV comes out ahead.

Cable TV is the more reliable service overall. If you're looking for a hassle-free experience with no interruptions caused by bad weather or other external factors, cable TV is likely the best choice. 

Ready to make a decision? Remember to call your chosen provider first and ask for a comparison of their packages. You might be surprised by what deals they offer and how much money you could save!

Click on your state to view provider information and availability in your area.