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Satellite TV -- What You Should Know

In the last 10 years more than 27 million people have switched from cable and over-the-air TV to satellite TV. But is satellite TV really that much better?

Let's find out ...

Satellite TV

Satellite TV is a television system whereby a broadcast center sends a signal containing TV programs to a satellite in orbit above the earth.

The satellite captures the signal and sends it back to earth, where it is picked up by a satellite dish and relayed to a TV set.

In order to receive a satellite TV signal you must have a satellite system -- a dish to capture the signal, and a receiver to unscramble the signal and send it to your television.

Satellite TV History

In 1962, the first satellite TV signal was sent from Europe to North America via the Telstar satellite. The first first commercial satellite, Early Bird, was launched in 1965, and Satellite TV reception in the U.S. began in 1980.

Early satellite TV systems were expensive, costing anywhere from ,000 to ,000. The dishes were large -- 10 to 12 feet in diameter -- and the receivers and antenna rotators were bulky and complicated.

In 1994 the first DBS (direct broadcast satellite) was put into orbit, issuing in the era of the mini dish and the slim-line receiver, making it possible for anyone, even apartment renters and condo owners, to have satellite TV.

Satellite TV Providers

There are two major satellite TV providers in the U.S.A -- DIRECTV and DISH Network.


With 14.5 million customers, DIRECTV is the oldest and largest satellite TV provider in the USA.

DIRECTV is ranked #2 in customer satisfaction among all satellite and cable TV companies by J.D. Power and Associates.

DIIRECTV offers the following equipment and services:

* A Free satellite TV system -- one dish and four receivers.
* Free installation and instruction on using the system.
* 250 channels with digital-quality picture and sound.
* 500 commercial-free movies per month.
* Up to 67 pay-per-view programs and events daily.
* 67 commercial-free XM radio channels.
* Toll-free, 24/7 customer service.

DIRECTV offers the most sports programming of the two satellite TV providers.

DISH Network

With more than 12 million customers, DISH Network is the second-oldest satellite TV provider, and is the fastest-growing provider.

DISH Network is ranked #1 in customer satisfaction among all the satellite and cable TV companies by J.D. Power and Associates.

DISH Network offers the following equipment and services:

* A Free satellite TV system -- one dish and four receivers.
* Free installation and satellite TV system instruction.
* 256 channels with digital-quality picture and sound.
* 500 commercial-free movies a month.
* Up to 60 pay-per-view programs and events per day.
* 50 commercial-free Sirius radio channels and 52 music channels.
* Toll-free, 24/7 customer service.

DISH Network has the biggest variety of movies and shows of the two satellite TV providers, and offers the cheapest basic service package.

Satellite TV Dealers

There are more than 80 online dealers and thousands of offline dealers across the U.S.A.

Some dealers are reputable and will give you an honest deal, but a number of dealers will lure you into subscribing to their service, then hit you with hidden fees, provide you with shoddy installation, and give you zero customer service.

Before you subscribe to a satellite TV service, you should read their service agreement carefully and call their customer service to clarify anything that isn't clear to you.

Note: Click on the links below for information on dealers that are reputable and give the best service at the best price.

Satellite TV Benefits

The main benefit of having satellite TV service is you can access up to 375 channels of TV programming. That gives you a lot more viewing options than cable or over-the-air TV.

In addition to regular TV programming, satellite TV allows you to tune into pay-per-view movies and special events, and to listen to more than 100 channels of commercial-free music on satellite radio.

Another benefit of satellite TV is the quality of the TV picture. Satellite TV is broadcast in digital format which produces a super sharp picture. Additionally, you have the option of ordering HD (high definition) TV for an even more lifelike picture.

Another benefit is the ability to record your favorite programs and to pause or fast-forward live TV using a DVR (digital video recorder).

Last, but not least, you get all the equipment you need to view satellite TV, including installation, absolutely free.


If you have over-the-air TV and don't watch much television then satellite TV probably isn't for you.

If, however, you watch a lot of TV or you have cable TV, then I recommend clicking on the links below to see what satellite TV has to offer.

With over 375 channels to choose from plus satellite radio, pay-per-view, movies, and programming packages starting at less than a dollar a day, you can't go wrong with satellite TV.

Click on the following link for more information on free satellite TV systems and service, or these links for ordering information, the latest offers, and free bonuses from DISH Network satellite TV or DIRECTV satellite TV.

About the Author: Brian Stevens is the senior editor for The Satellite TV Guide and has written extensively on satellite TV.

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