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Satellite TV providers DirecTV vs. Dish 



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Dish Network vs. DirecTV: comparison

How do DirecTV and Dish Network compare among themselves? Comparison between the two main US satellite TV service providers is easier than between the cable and satellite. Both DBS giants use similar basic technology of broadcasting, have similarly sized satellite fleet, programming volume and content, cost per channel and top customer satisfaction record. Still, potentially significant differences for you may come along these three lines: (1) programming packages, (2) equipment and (3) your geographic location.


Main difference in programming packages between Dish Network and DirecTV is in the size and cost of their respective basic package. Dish Network offers smaller package at a lower cost, while DirecTV's is bigger and somewhat more costly. Premium sports and movie channels, as well as special interests programming - international, ethnic, religious, adult - are included in advanced packages, or can be bought either as a separate package, or a piece ("a la carte"). While premium movie packages are quite similar with both providers, when it comes to sports, DirecTV has the advantage of NFL Sunday Ticket exclusive.

On the other hand, Dish Network offers more diverse international/ethnic contents. Detailed, updated information on Dish Network and DirecTV programming is available on their Web sites, and sites of their authorized retailers.


Digital TV systems furnished by the two providers can be considered from the technical aspect, and cost-wise. Technically, dish antennas and receivers differ somewhat between Dish Network and DirecTV. Some features may be more important to you than others, so it make sense to go over it.

Cost-wise, Dish Network standard receivers beyond one are $5-$10, and up to $7 with DirecTV. If you are to pay monthly fee - either for the standard or advanced receivers beyond one - you are better off with double (or dual) tuner receivers, which allow you to connect two TV sets per receiver.

The cost of getting the most advanced HD/DVR receiver is, at present, also lower with Dish Network.


Finally, your geographic location matters because it determines how good position in the satellite "footprint" you'll have, as well as how high above the horizon your satellites will be. Both factors affect signal strength. While it is not likely to influence image quality in good weather and with accurately aimed dish, it can influence required dish aiming accuracy, as well as sensitivity to the effects of adverse weather. Both can be remedied with somewhat larger dish but, in general, the higher positioned satellite, the better; also, the closer are you to "footprint" center, the better. 

Locations gravitating toward the northern US border have lower satellite altitudes due to their greater distance from the equator. Highest possible altitude - for a satellite with orbital position nearly coinciding with the local geographic longitude, placing it at the southern meridian - varies from about 60 degrees at the southern US border, to about 30 degrees at the Northern border. A satellite whose orbital location is "A" degrees from your local longitude, will have this maximum altitude reduced by a cosA factor. Thus the significance of how far to either west or east from your local are the satellites increases somewhat with your latitude.

In general, DirecTV satellite distribution, with the western-most satellite at 119W, is better suited for the eastern US coast than Dish Network orbital locations, whose western-most satellites are located at 129W and 148W. EchoStar (Dish Network) also have two satellites to the east (61.5W orbital location), while DirecTV has one (72.5W), which all are not well located for the western US coast.

Note that both providers broadcast their core programming using satellites in the 100W-120W orbital segment, which are well positioned for all of the continental US (Alaska and Hawaii are on the footprint periphery, and usually require larger dish). It is the special channels, like local HD, or international, than may be coming from less favorable orbital location.

While you can be sure that either provider has done its best to make the reception satisfactory - or better - you may want to find out specifically how well positioned are the programming satellites in regard to your location, as one among other factors in deciding which of the two providers is a better choice for you. 


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Direct Broadcast Satellite  Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) TV service is a high-powered broadcast service to homes using satellites as the primary form of signal transmission. Its high transmission power makes possible use of relatively small dish antennas for efficient signal reception and utilization. Commercial satellite TV, as we know it, is a DBS service...

Dish Network  Dish Network is the second largest direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service provider in the US. Together with DirecTV, it shares the US home satellite TV market. Dish Network started commercial DBS broadcasting  in 1996, after its first TV satellite - EchoStar I - has been launched in 1995...

DirecTV  DirecTV is a direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service provider, based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Launched in 1994 by Hughes Electronics Corporation, it was the very first high-powered (mini-dish) DBS service in the world...

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