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Cable versus satellite television

Which television service is right for you?

How would you like Jon Stewart and American Idol to be delived? Through the sky or along underground cables? Let's decide.

Price

While cable companies have the package with the lowest price available, satellite offers much more value. You could get a low end cable package for less than $30, but you would get 1/3 of the channels of satellite and save less than a few dollars a month.

Programming

Both cable and satellite have the same amount of programming consisting of movie channels, sports channels, HD channels, PPV, etc. In some rare areas however, local channels are not yet available on satellite.

Equipment

With cable, you could get every piece of programming offered with the exception of High Definition without buying any equipment. With satellite, you'll have to have a converter box and remote for each television in your house. Satellite doesn't cost you any excess money, however, as both DirecTV and Dish Network have free equipment promotions.

Availability

Cable typically does not offer services out in rural areas. If your house or apartment is older than a few years and is in a city or residential area, it most likely has cable installed in it already.

Satellite is a little more complicated. Check with your landlord before signing up with satellite, as a lot of apartment complexes do not allow satellite dishes on their property. Once you have your landlord's approval, you need to see if you have an unobstructed view of the southern sky. This means you should be able to stand where the satellite will be located, look up toward the south, and see nothing but blue sky.

Customer Service

Cable companies have local offices, while satellite companies perform business strictly over the internet and phone. If you need to pay your bill in person (or complain, for that matter), cable is right for you.

Obligation

This is the big drawback of satellite. Much like a wireless company, they require you to sign a contract or one or two years. Cable does not.

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