There are as many myths or misunderstandings floating around about satellite and cable providers as there are stars in the sky – or, these days, HD stations on a premium service package. So how is anyone supposed to know what service to pick and what not to choose?
Ultimately, the short answer to that question is: you’re not. All companies, in pretty much all industries, make claims in large print that are pretty close to flatly contradicted by the small print at the bottom of their contracts. So the first myth to bust in terms of both satellite and cable providers is this one: the marketing speak is real. Forget it. No marketing talk is ever real.
We’ll use connection speed as a case in point. When you load up a website for a cable or satellite company, it’ll make a big deal about its internet connections and the insanely fast download speeds you can enjoy. The big number you see will make visions of being able to download hundreds of films simultaneously swim in front of your eyes, Ignore them. Somewhere down in the fine print, it’ll point out that those stratospherically fast download speeds will only happen if no-one else in the world is using bandwidth on the cable your signal is coming through at the same time.
In other words: massive download speeds don’t work during the broadband rush hour. No matter how fast your connection, I guarantee it’ll start falling over when everyone gets home from work.
The second myth to bust is that satellite is better than cable; or that cable is better than satellite. Basically, satellite and cable are the same thing delivered via different methods. Cable providers send a signal through, you guessed it, a cable; and satellite providers do the same thing with a satellite.
Theoretically, the satellite signal is more reliable because it’s beamed from space, and there is nothing in the way. Except trees. And clouds. And buildings. And – well just about everything that stands on a straight line drawn between the sightline of your dish and the satellite beaming the signal. Indeed, satellite signals are so susceptible to disruption by physical objects that you can’t have satellite TV or internet if your house hasn’t got a clear view of the sky in a given direction.
The cable signal, by contrast, is actually extraordinarily reliable. That’s because the cable runs directly into the appliance you are connecting to that signal with. The only obstructions that signal ever gets are in your home. Where your cable providers have given you a wireless router, for example, and you’ve blocked its sightlines with a pile of books.
Cable signal deteriorates, between the source and the home – that’s why fibre optic cable is so good, because it keeps the signal as clear as it was when it left the transmitter – but very rarely so much that you would notice. Otherwise (sounds obvious but you have to say these things) you’d notice. And I guarantee that you don’t sit there every night watching your superfast 200 channel cable TV service thinking “I can tell this signal has deteriorated”.
In other words – most claims about one or the other service being superior are myths. Both deliver amazing TV, you just have to choose which one to buy.