Comparison of Cable, Satellite and IPTV Services for Digital and HD Programming

Since I like to save a buck, comparing digital television packages offered by cable, satellite and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) providers in my area just makes sense to me.Even though IPTV isn’t offered in my area yet, I need to be aware of it because it is coming.

But, this isn’t just about me. My area is probably a lot like yours. I have access to two cable companies, two satellite companies and will have access to an IPTV provider probably within the next year or two.

In a sense, by reviewing my data you can get a feel for what it’s like in your area. Of course, everyone has their specific needs from a service provider so I don’t expect this to apply to everyone.

Do you like your service provider?

Constants for this comparison: I didn’t include premium services or current offers to new subscribers because I wanted real world prices, not temporary prices. I also did not consider bundling services.

My three-room system is configured so one room has high definition (HD) and digital video recording (DVR) service. The second room has HD service and the third room has standard digital service.


DirecTV has several options to choose from when considering digital television and high definition programming. With respect to this study, the best package DirecTV offers for HD and DVR service is their ‘Plus HD-DVR’ plan for $69.99/month. This plan includes DVR service and the high definition package, which is normally priced at $9.99 a la carte.

You might have to pay an upgrade lease-fee on some receivers upon subscribing to their service. Though, there are deals in place that could reduce or eliminate the upgrade fee. Each receiver other than the initial receiver that is included in the monthly programming fee costs $4.99/month. The regular price for a HD-DVR receiver is $299.99 plus shipping and handling. The HD Receiver is usually around $99.99 for the initial upgrade fee. Standard digital receivers are usually free.

The bottom line cost for DirecTV is $79.97 not including taxes and other administrative fees for the Plus HD-DVR package, which comes with 195+ channels (including 68 XM Satellite Radio channels), HD programming and the DVR service. I would have to pay upfront costs of $299.99 for the HD-DVR receiver and possibly $99.99 for the HD receiver.

Time Warner Cable

Time Warner has a 300 digital cable package for $61.30/month. This programming package has more than 300 digital channels, 47 are digital music channels. Time Warner service is a little confusing because they itemize their packages to these small groups of channels, especially with digital and HD channels.

High definition service is either $9.95/month for 16 HD channels (12 free) and the HD receiver or $7.95 for the HD receiver and 12 free HD channels.

Converter box prices are per room. A standard digital receiver is $6.99/month and a Digital Navigator HD Receiver is $7/month a la carte. So, the best deal on the HD receiver is to bundle it with a HD package or upgrade the digital programming package for $1 more/month. Time Warner offers a CableCARD for $2.65/month but this doesn’t apply to me as I don’t have a TV with that capability.

Non-HD and HD/DVR are both $9.95/month.

The bottom line cost for Time Warner is $98.14/month not including taxes and administrative fees. With this cost I get digital service in one room with a standard receiver, HD service in two rooms. One of those rooms has a HD receiver and the other room has a HD-DVR along with HD-recording service.

Sudden Link

Sudden Link, which bought Cox Communications in some markets, offers digital cable for $65/month. This service has 200+ channels, including 30+ digital music channels. The HD programming package is $7.95/month for seven high definition channels.

Converter box costs are $4.99/month for a standard receiver, $9.95/month for a HD receiver (plus 5 free HD channels) or $14.90/month for a HD-DVR receiver (plus the DVR recording service). All converter box charges are per room.

The bottom line cost for Sudden Link is $102.79/month not including taxes and administrative fees. With this cost I get digital cable service using a standard receiver in one room, the high definition programming package in two rooms with a HD receiver in one and a HD-DVR in the other room. I get DVR service in one room.

DISH Network

DISH Network’s America’s Top 200 package is $42.99/month. I get over 200 channels, including 60 Sirius digital music channels. DISH Network’s HD package is $20/month but this price includes access to somewhere between 28 and 32 HD channels.

Receiver costs are per room for DISH Network. The end result is that I can get a two-room receiver and pay only one receiver cost or have a receiver in each room. The DISH Network customer service rep says that I should go with a HD-DVR for two rooms and a standard digital receiver in another. The standard receiver is $5/month and the HD/DVR is included in the main programming cost – meaning I won’t pay monthly for it.

The bottom line cost for DISH Network is $72.99/month after taxes for America’s Top 200, a HD programming package, DVR service and access to programming in three rooms. I would lease one dual-tuner HD-DVR receiver that would control TVs in two rooms and one standard receiver for my third room.


FiOS TV is Verizon’s alternative to cable and satellite. They currently offer a digital programming package in parts of the USA for $42.99. This cost includes 200 digital channels and 28 high definition channels.

Set-top box costs are $4.99/month for a standard receiver, $9.99/month for a HD receiver and $12.99/month for a HD/DVR receiver.

The beauty of FiOS is that Verizon bundles their programming into one package instead of forcing the subscriber to pay extra for HD and DVR service.

The bottom line cost for FiOS TV should it be offered in my area at these prices is $70.96/month not including taxes and other administrative costs. For this price, I would get digital and high definition programming, HD service in two rooms, standard digital service in one room and DVR service in one of the rooms with HD. I would have three set-top boxes: one standard, one HD-only and one HD/DVR with the recording service.

About Nguyễn Viết Hiền

Passionate, Loyal
This entry was posted in Integration, Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

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