CABLE VS SATELLITE: Which One is Better?

The cable vs. satellite debate is as old as iPhone vs. Samsung, Xbox vs. PlayStation, Messi vs. Ronaldo, and The Big Bang Theory vs. Friends debates. There is no end-point to most of these debates. No matter what argument the opposite side presents, we are intrinsically programmed to stick with our favorite. However, the cable vs. satellite debate isn’t as complex as the others. There is a lot to talk about and you can make a rational decision keeping your allegiance on the side.

Cable and satellite providers have taken over the landscape of the U.S. TV and internet industry. Every day, more and more people subscribe to these services. If you are in a neighborhood where both of these services are available, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the technical jargon surrounding these two.

Therefore, we’ve created a comprehensive guide on the basic comparison between these two services so that you can choose the one according to your requirements. Broadcast networks operate by broadcasting content from a central source. The content reaches to you in many ways. Cable and satellite are the two main sources. The cable network delivers content with the help of dedicated coaxial cable lines. In the case of satellite, it reaches you with the help of radio waves.


You can get satellite even in geographically remote areas. Satellite is available everywhere. AT&T DIRECTV being a satellite provider is available in more than 44 states. Your satellite dish must face the southern sky for you to get coverage.

Conversely, cable doesn’t have excessive coverage. Providers are still trying to give access to remote areas by extending the coaxial cable network lines. If you are living in an urban area, you will find cable quite easily. Spectrum is one of the biggest cable providers in the country with services across 41 states. You can get Brighthouse Network or TWC TV packages quite easily in their serviceable areas.


The price varies from provider to provider. For example, Spectrum is a cable provider. The most basic TV plan costs you somewhere around $60 to $70 after adding taxes, equipment rental, and other surcharges. The price is good for a year or two. After the end of the promotional term, the prices go higher.

The satellite is a bit cheaper, on the other hand. You can get a decent plan for under $50. However, equipment is a bit expensive but you can pay monthly installments.

Equipment and Installation

Satellite and cable work in different ways, so their installation is different. Satellite doesn’t require any professional installation. You just need to set up a dish and ensure that it has a clear view of the southern sky. The satellite will catch the signals and you will get the signal service.

The cable requires a professional installation if you are getting the service for the first time. The cable TV and internet works through an integrated system of coaxial cables. An outlet is required for you to connect to this network. Setting up a cable TV service requires a cable box which receives the signals and transmits them to your TV set. The professional installation cost varies from provider to provider.

Video Quality

We live in the world of high-definition. After all, watching your favorite movies on a 60-inch 4K UHD TV with your friends is a great way to make the most out of your weekend. Both satellite and cable host HD programming. The only difference is that satellite offers a better choice in HD when it comes to national programming. Conversely, cable has a better collection of local programming in HD.

Channel Lineups

Satellite and cable offer a vast variety of channels belonging to every genre. You can even get premium channels included in their plans for a limited period, in most cases 12 months. You can tailor your channel lineup to meet your needs. The only difference is that satellite offers better support in terms of national channels while cable offers an extensive variety of local channels.


Cable network works with the help of coaxial cables that are installed underground. In case you have bad weather, your cable TV or internet service will remain the same. However, cable outages are common too but they are less frequent than disruptions due to weather. Conversely, satellite doesn’t work very well in stormy or rainy weather. The satellite also needs a clear view of the southern sky. Therefore, you are more likely to experience service issues than you can imagine.

Final Verdict

Although satellite has better national programming and easy installation, it faces a lot of problems with the changing weather. Conversely, the cable offers better reliability if you are willing to compromise a bit on the price.