TV Cable & Satellite Providers

Choosing the right TV service

The sheer volume of cable TV and satellite TV options may be confusing. Taking time to review your options is a good way to get the most satisfaction for your money. First, learn the basics about the different choices. Main options are cable, fiber optic and satellite. Then, learn what's actually available where you live. Not every option or package is possible in every region. Check with service providers to know what's available, so you can begin to compare features and costs.

Meanwhile, here are a few points to keep in mind:

About satellite: Satellite television offers many viewing choices. In addition to standard channels, satellite television providers offer high-definition (HD) packages and multiple-channel feeds. The main problem with satellite is the potential for lost service during storms.

About cable and fiber optics: These services run directly into your home and can be part of bundled Internet and telephone services, which may reduce the total monthly bill. Cable services are generally reliable. Fiber-optic services tend to offer clear images and top sound quality.

Costs and contracts: Be aware that installation, rental fees and bundling can all affect initial and ongoing costs. Contracts can also factor in your decision about which kind of TV service to choose. Satellite companies may require long commitments, while cable and fiber optic services may provide a contract-free service. In either case, be sure you are aware of all potential extra fees, including for terminating service.

Customer service tips

Whether you're asking about rates or making a complaint, getting the best possible customer service takes a little work on your part. But you'll increase your odds of satisfaction if you follow these steps:

  • Before calling, be ready with the account number and any pertinent information, such as dates and times when service was interrupted. It's helpful to write questions before calling.

  • Be friendly. Take note of the customer service representative's name and remain calm throughout the conversation. Being polite to the person who answers the phone directly affects how you'll be treated. However, be persistent and clearly state the reason for the call. The customer service representative cannot properly help without knowing the exact situation.

  • Be specific about what you want. If you want a credit applied to the bill, say so. Ask to speak to a supervisor if your questions and concerns are not being handled to your satisfaction.

Switching TV providers

Thinking of changing TV services? Consider budget, quality, services and options.

Budget considerations: If you're tired of paying as much as you do, consider dropping options. Check with your provider to see if bundling  phone and Internet with TV services is cheaper. Consider if you're paying for more services than you actually use.

Quality matters: Changing to a digital service may clear up problems with fuzzy images. A high definition (HD) source will produce even clearer images. Cable and satellite providers both offer dedicated HD channels, often for an extra charge.

Services and options: Another reason to change services is to find specific content. You may want to focus on sports and movies, for instance. Other services include video-on-demand (VOD), "pay per view" programming and digital recording.

Whenever you consider changing services, be sure to review the terms of all contracts. Ask lots of questions to make sure you are aware if there are hidden fees and if introductory discounts will change after a certain time.

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