Digital Cable vs. Satellite: Best bang for Your Buck

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Difference between Digital Cable and Satellite

The advent of digital TV has made possible a quality of picture and range of channel options that were previously unavailable and TV viewing is all the better for it. Today's new generation of TV viewers has the option to choose from digital cable and satellite TV services, each of which has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. It can be quite confusing to make the choice between either one, but this comparison article will hopefully clue you in to some of their more salient points.

Digital Cable

Digital Technology And Services

Both digital cable and satellite TV utilize what is basically the same digital technology in order to give you access to hundreds of television channels. This would include a variety of movie channels, pay-per-view television events, and news, information and entertainment channels. There is a slight difference in the technology used to deliver these services nevertheless, with satellite providers utilizing the MPEG-4 AVC format for broadcast. At the time of this writing, digital cable TV services have yet to make the move to the MPEG-4 format, although the change is reportedly coming very soon.

Availability And Content

Satellite TV is generally available almost anywhere that the satellite can reach. This means that you don’t have to be in a large city or even an urban area to receive satellite television. This is why satellite TV is the only real choice for getting digital TV in remote areas. Cable television on the other hand is often limited to towns and cities. If you live in a rural area where the cable doesn’t pass through, you will have to go with satellite TV. Nevertheless, most areas in the United States can get cable TV. As for content, satellite TV has the clear advantage in this regard, and this format is able to deliver more high definition content than any cable TV service currently in existence, due to the limited bandwidth of current cable TV systems.


Both digital cable TV and satellite TV requires a set-top box for every TV set. This allows the TV to display high definition content. Some services provide the household with such a box for free, while other services charge a nominal fee as "rental". In most cases, the box will have to be returned to the company upon termination of the contract. There are also HD-capable boxes that function as DVRs, allowing users to record HD programs for later viewing, in addition, to a host of other capabilities. Of course satellite TV requires the installation of a satellite dish in an area of the house that offers it an unobstructed line-of-sight to the satellite.


Digital Cable

  • Can deliver high definition content
  • Service is only available in areas where the cable actually passes through
  • Bandwidth limitations means less high definition content is available


  • Uses the same digital technology as digital cable TV
  • Uses the mpeg-4 AVC format
  • Offers more high definition content than cable TV
  • Generally available almost anywhere


comments 1 Comments

  • Jesus . 3+ yrs. ago

I actually have satellite TV and to be more specific, I have DISH Network and I am completely satisfied with their quality of service. I love that is less lagging in the picture compare to Comcast, which I did have previously. I also recently decided to work at DISH and I know about some really amazing deals. Right now DISH is giving new customers up to three HD receivers. Plus, DISH is having the HD free for life promotion so you can upgrade to HD programming for on additional cost on your bill. I love DISH and I always recommend them to everyone!

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