Once you have settled in your new apartment, the next thing to do is look at cable TV options. Comcast and Dish TV are the largest players in the paid television market. You may also consider Direct TV and other competitors in your local market. Cable connections are available in almost all apartments in the USA. This requires a quick sign up with the company and an installation. There are many plans available and there is a lot of fierce competition in the market. If you are a new client, chances are that all the companies will give you great promotion deals.

  • For starters every service provider offers different packages that include HD channels, Indian channels, HBO, sports programming, etc.
  • If you prefer HD channels you have to consider what each company is offering. Dish Network beats Comcast when it comes to the number of HD channels available.
  • It is a good idea to choose a plan or ask for a ‘preferred plan’. Many cable plans offer a choice of channels and hence customize the rates as per the plan. You can choose the one you like best from the available plans.
  • You can also choose between a cable and satellite connection.
  • Consider opting for a Dish based connection if you need dedicated Indian Channels. Many cable companies, such as Comcast, offer limited Indian programs for a few times a week. The programs are aired at different times, depending on your location in the USA. However, many dish network companies like Dish Network offer 24 hour access to Zee TV, Asia Network, etc. If you like watching cricket, you will get live cricket coverage on Dish connections but seldom over cable TV.

Cable TV

Some of the popular cable TV providers are: Time Warner Cable TV, AT&T U-Verse, Comcast, Cox Cable TV, etc. Compare the plans offered by all the companies. Cable TV requires one receiver per television for digital programming. You may get a Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) and remote for which there is a fixed monthly fee. All the cable equipment is required to be returned upon discontinuation of service, unless otherwise specified. Most of the digital cable providers offer the following in most of the areas.

  • An electronic program guide,
  • Pay-per view movies,
  • On-demand’ video which includes movies & shows, and,
  • Subscription services

Satellite Dish Companies

Normally a satellite can support 250-300 channels. To have satellite service you will need the following equipment:

  • A dish, or multiple dishes, that must be placed outside and have a clear view of the southern sky.
  • A receiver for each TV
  • DVRs are available as well.
  • Remote

Like cable TV equipment, most satellite providers require all equipment to be leased for the service period. The equipment is required to be returned once you disconnect service.

You may consider any one of the following two satellite dish companies.

  • Dish Network
  • Direct TV

Dish Network uses its own satellite dish to broadcast Indian programs like TV-Asia, and Zee TV. For some packages like Zee TV (Gold) and south Indian channels (Teja TV, Gemini TV, etc) you will require an additional receiver. Direct TV uses satellite receivers manufactured by RCA, Sony, HNS, Pro Scan etc., and has different contracts for broadcasts with companies.

If you prefer to have Indian channels, check out the current packages offered by different companies. The packages and special promotions vary from time to time. The advantage of dish over cable is that you can get the Indian entertainment and sports channels regularly.

Consider the following factors to make a decision.

  • Are you allowed to put a satellite dish in your apartment?
  • What is the number of HD channels provided by each service provider?
  • What is the number of Indian channels provided by each service provider?
  • What is the monthly cost of the plan you prefer?
  • If you are opting for cable TV, what is the monthly service fee of the Digital Video Recorder (DVR)?
  • If you are opting for cable TV, what is the monthly service fee for any additional receivers?
  • What are the DVR capabilities offered by different companies?
  • Is your TV HD compatible?

Useful Tips

  • Verify with your apartment management before you buy a dish. Some apartment communities do not allow dish installations.
  • For perfect reception, dish antennae should be facing in a particular direction. Keep this in mind while putting up the dish.
  • Remember, you can always return a connection package if you do not like it. But this has to be done within a specified time period. All the companies have a return policy.
  • Leading companies offer bundle plans. This is a good strategy to save money on your TV service, high-speed Internet and landline. Many times you are likely to get better plans if you purchase all three services from one company. You will also have to pay just one bill instead of three bills. Quickly do a cost-benefit analysis and opt for a bundle plan only if you save money.
  • If you are opting for a bundle plan, remember that these are limited time offers. Most likely your bill will go up by 40 to 50 percent after the promotion period (typically 6-12 months). Keep this in mind if you are looking for a Comcast deal.
  • If you are looking at a deal with ‘rebates’ make sure you send the rebate form before the due date and get the rebate.