Difference Between Cable and Satellite TV

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 16, 2023


Difference Between Cable and Satellite TV

Why read @ Diffzy

Our articles are well-researched

We make unbiased comparisons

Our content is free to access

We are a one-stop platform for finding differences and comparisons

We compare similar terms in both tabular forms as well as in points


In order to talk about the differences between cable and satellite TV, we must first note down what these two are. Cable TV connection comes into our houses through a “cable” that is plugged directly into the television. It is much more trusted and reliable than satellite television however it is much more expensive than satellite television unless cable TV services are bundled with internet services and sometimes home phone services. Satellite TV signals travel to our screens via a dish that is carefully installed on the roof of the building of the satellite TV user. Then it travels down through a cable and into the TV. Satellite television cannot be considered to be as reliable and trustworthy as cable since many factors, such as weather, any physical barrier, etc., can disrupt proper reception but Satellite TV is a much more affordable service. 

Cable TV and Satellite TV are different from each other in more ways than one. For example, Cable TV is only available in areas or locations where the service providers offer their services. This can sometimes exclude rural areas or new places in the suburbs. Satellite TV signals, on the other hand, are available anywhere a dish is installed, which is why satellite TV networks are more popular in rural areas where cable operators do not provide their service. 

Cable TV vs. Satellite TV 

Cable TV provides television service to subscribers via fiber optic cable or coaxial cable. Typically, it uses a network or bunch of coaxial cables that are strung along utility poles or laid underneath the surface. The television signals are then transmitted via these cables to provide various range of channels to their subscribers. These signals can be either digital or analog, which is based on the type of technology used by cable service providers. Satellite TV, on the other hand, depends on the communication satellites that orbit the Earth. The providers of this service send various television signals to the satellites, which then beam it down to the satellite dishes that are specifically installed at the premises of a particular customer. The satellite dish antennas receive the signals, and they convert these signals into formats that are suitable for television sets. Cable TV is also more reliable than satellite TV since its reception is not affected by bad weather, unlike satellite television. However, Satellite TV is more readily available and is also an affordable option. 

Difference Between Cable TV and Satellite TV in Tabular Form

ParametersCable TVSatellite TV
DefinitionCable TV delivers television programs and shows to consumers via radio frequency signals that are transmitted through coaxial cables or light pulses transmitted over fibre optic cables.Cable TV delivers television programs and shows to consumers via radio frequency signals that are transmitted through coaxial cables or light pulses transmitted over fiber optic cables.
               InstallationTechnicians install the junction box in your home.Technicians install the dish on your roof.
EquipmentCable box and remoteBox and dish
ContractDone every yearSatellite TV transmits programming via communications satellites and is typically received by an outdoor antenna, a parabolic reflector known as a satellite dish.
AvailabilityOnly in areas close to where network providers offer serviceAnywhere in India.
Cost EfficiencyLess cost efficientMore cost-efficient.

What is Cable TV? 

Cable TV is a system that delivers television to consumers by sending radio frequency (RF) signals over coaxial cables or light pulses over fibre optic cables. This contrasts with television broadcasting (also known as terrestrial television), where radio signals are sent over the air via radio waves and received through pipes, radio with an antenna connected to the TV, or satellite TV, where radio is sent via communications. Satellites. Radio orbiting the Earth is not transmitted through the air and is received by a satellite dish on the roof. FM radio programming, high-speed internet, telephone service and similar non-television services can also be provided over these cables. Analog TV was standard TV in the 20th century, but since the 2000s, cable systems have upgraded to digital cable. 

Since the mid-1970s, cable TV systems offering specialized services have expanded. In addition to offering users a good signal, the system also provides additional TV channels. Some of these systems can transmit 50 or more channels because they split the signals generated in traditional radio broadcasts by non-broadcast frequencies. A frequency conversion device that connects to a user's television set to match the signal to a non-broadcast frequency. The channel's rise allows for the expansion of programming, including broadcasts from distant cities, regular weather and business reports, programs created by resident community groups and schools, and access to pay-TV content such as the latest movies from other countries and non-televised sports publishers. 

Another feature that cable operators have added is bi-directional channel capability, which allows customers to communicate with offices or service providers in the system. For example, viewers at home can use communications to participate in surveys or request various text and visual information (such as notes from reference books, timeline music, and different foods). The second work was provided by a system called videotext, a first in England and West Germany. Two-way cable TV technology increasingly allows consumers with home computers to connect to a computer, giving users access to information and allowing them to interact with other users online. Cable operators also experimented with video compression, digital transmission, and high-definition television (HDTV). 

History of Cable TV

The first cable TV in the United States was built in 1948 by John Watson in Mahanoy, Pennsylvania, providing radio transmission to people with poor reception due to mountains and gardens. Mahanoy County is well-suited for radio service because radio broadcasts can be easily received from mountaintop antennas and retransmitted via "double lead" or "ladder 'lead' cables to communities in the valley below (where reception is poor), Wolson's claim for the "first time" (by whom ?) was invalidated because his claimed start date could not be confirmed. The U.S. Congress and the National Cable Television Association recognized Watson as the inventor of cable television in the spring of 1948. 

James F. Reynolds invented the CATV system in 1940' Developed in Maple Dale, Pennsylvania, in the 1960s and later grew to include Sandy Lake, Stoneboro, Polk, Cochranton, and Meadville. Eastern Pennsylvania, particularly Schuylkill and Carbon counties in the anthracite region, was home to some of the first CATVs. Although he owned it, he also had other cable television businesses throughout the United States. One of them was James Y. Davidson of Tuckerman, Arkansas. Davidson is the manager of a local cinema and also works as a radio editor. In 1949, he built a cable to completely carry a new radio signal from Memphis, Tennessee, to his community, which was too far away to receive the signal using an aerial antenna. Leroy E. "Ed" Parsons built the first radio in the United States, using coaxial cables, amplifiers, and public antennas to transmit radio signals to areas that would not be broadcast on TV. Radio. By 1948, Parsons owned a radio station in Astoria, Oregon. He and his wife saw television for the first time in a year at a press conference. In the spring of 1948, Parsons learned that KRSC (now KKNW), a radio station 125 miles from Seattle, was going to open a failed television station. He found that he could pick up KRSC's signal from a large antenna on the roof of the Astoria Hotel and, from there, run a coaxial cable to his apartment across the street. When the station (now KING-TV) went on the air in November 1948, Parsons was the only person in town who could watch television. Parsons is charging a one-time setup fee of $125 and a monthly service fee of $3, MSNBC's Bob Sullivan reported. In May 1968, Parsons became known as the father of the television antenna community. 

Pros of using Cable TV

  • More reliable. 
  • Do not get affected by bad weather or any physical barriers. 
  • Easy to install. 
  • It is better for those subscribers who do not want a long time commitment. 

Cons of using Cable TV

  • It is available only where the service provider provides service. 
  • It is comparatively more expensive. 
  • Does not offer too many varieties of channels. 

What is Satellite TV? 

Satellite TV is a service that provides television service by sending signals directly to the viewer's location via communications satellites orbiting the Earth. The signal is received by an outdoor parabolic antenna (often called a satellite dish) and a low-frequency sound source. The satellite receiver then determines the television program you want to watch on television. The receiver can be an external box or a built-in TV tuner. Satellite TV offers many channels and services. It is often the only television available in many remote areas where terrestrial television or cable service is not available. 

Currently, signals coming from the X band (8-12 GHz) or Ku band (12-18 GHz) frequency should only be a small dish less than one meter in diameter. The first satellite TV was a now-obsolete type simply called broadcast TV. These systems receive weak signals from the C-band (4-8 GHz) sent from FSS-type satellites and require the use of a 2-3 meter dish. For this reason, these systems are called "big disk" systems and are more expensive and popular. 

Early systems used analog signals, but modern systems use digital signals and can transmit modern HDTV standards due to the improved spectral quality of digital broadcasting. As of 2022, Star One C2 from Brazil is the only remaining analog satellite broadcast. 

These two types require different receivers. Some broadcasts and channels are unencrypted and, therefore, delivered for free, while many other channels are sent encrypted. Free-to-watch channels are encrypted but not free; Pay TV, on the other hand, requires viewers to sign up and pay a monthly fee to access the service as people turn to internet-based streaming TV and free over-the-air TV. 

Pros of Using Satellite TV

  • It is a much more affordable option. 
  • It is readily available anywhere a dish can be attached. 
  • It provides a large variety of channels. 

Cons of Using Satellite TV

  • It is not very reliable since it is easily affected by bad weather or physical barriers. 
  • Not for people who do not want to commit long term since satellite TV is subscribed yearly. 

Difference Between Satellite TV and Cable TV in Points 

  • Satellite TV is less reliable, and its reception is easily disrupted by rain, cloudy weather or even physical barriers; cable TV, on the other hand, is much more trusted and not affected by bad weather. 
  • Cable television offers less variety of television channels than satellite TV. 
  • Cable TV cannot be installed just anywhere; it can only be installed in places where service providers offer their services. Whereas Satellite TV is installed anywhere a dish can be attached. 
  • Cable TV is mostly used in cities, and Satellite TV is mostly used in suburbs or rural areas. 
  • Satellite TV is provides subscriptions on a yearly basis, while Cable TV provides subscriptions on a monthly basis. 


Comparing cable and satellite setups is like comparing landlines with cell phones. While cable TV relies on physical cables, satellite programming uses satellite dishes to receive the signal. If we had to choose a single installation, we can say that cable is the easier and more reliable option for most people. Satellite TV is vulnerable to interference. You'll find that cable providers are more flexible and generally require less equipment, such as sockets, coaxial cables, and installation boxes. If you live in more than one room (apartment, townhouse, etc.), you can usually install the cable without any problems. If you have the talent, you can do it yourself. Once you’re done, because the signal runs through the cable, interference will be minimal. Satellite providers are required to install a dish on the outside of the house, and the dish must point in the right direction and be free of any debris. If the slightest thing goes wrong, such as bad weather or windy conditions, it can interfere with the signal. 


  • https://www.reviews.org/tv-service/cable-vs-satellite-tv-service-depth-comparison/
  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_television
  • https://www.britannica.com/technology/cable-television


Cite this article

Use the citation below to add this article to your bibliography:



MLA Style Citation

"Difference Between Cable and Satellite TV." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sun. 21 Apr. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-cable-and-satellite-tv>.

Edited by

Share this article