With the Digital Transition now in effect this is probably a good time to evaluate your home television reception and what possibilities you have for improving it.
If you live near a metropolitan area you may have seen the transition to digital provide a few extra channels to your over the air lineup. Many major stations have begun offering 24 hour news or weather stations while others have introduced sports channels and other offerings only previously available on Cable or Satellite networks.
However if you live on the edge of the reception area you may have found that channels that once came in relatively good now are not showing up at all. This is the way of Digital Television.. instead of being able to live with poor reception on a low signal the digital tuner in your television or set top box has a minimum signal quality that will refuse to display any picture if it is below that level.
No matter what offerings you now have and even if you have a current satellite provider you should always keep yourself apprised of what other offerings are in your area.
The first thing you should understand is that Satellite Television will not normally have the same lineup that you were useto with your cable company. Although many of the same offerings are available and many new ones you probably never heard of, some stations are limited to the system they are on. Also along with System Owned stations there are a number of contract negotiations that may require purchases of groups of stations in higher cost bundles just to get one or two stations that you useto always watch. When you are changing providers it may cut into your television watching routine but there is usually something on of interest for everyone.
Local Channels are not available as a standard package. Even if you now live outside of the local broadcasting area because of poor digital reception don’t expect your basic rate package to include the stations in your area. The reason for this is rebroadcasting rules that the network must pay for local distribution. Expect to pay an extra $10 for a group of local channels if they are available on your network.
Contracts and Warranties
Each company will have its own contracts for service and it is important to fully understand all of the costs associated with your satellite dish and set top boxes. When you choose a longer contract you are likely to get a lower price per month but if for some reason you need to break that 1 to 3 year agreement you may find that disconnection and cancellation fees are much higher then what you would have saved.
Make sure that you understand if you are renting or if you own the equipment outright. If you own the equipment it can be an asset when you sell your home but if it breaks you may not have an easy way to replace it cheaply.
Owning verses Renting can also be a problem if you want to upgrade your box with more functions or if you need to replace your dish to connect more televisions.
Understand everything up front before you sign the contract and contact a few different install companies for the same dish network and ask what their policies are for service and repairs. You may find some are better then others even though they are hooking you up to the same network.
Installing the Dish
Installing your own dish is possible but because most companies provide discount packages that include free installs it is better for a new dish owner to have a technician install the hardware.
Installing a Satellite Dish on the outside of your home can not be regulated by local laws or community association rules. Any dish that provides your primary television viewing must be allowable for install with no limitations however if you alter the equipment in some way you may run into problems.
Dishes by heavily advertised companies are in the two feet round category. They are small dishes but because they are heavy they must be secured to the side of your home by anchors that are screwed into the wood framing of your home. You should never attach the Dish to a shingled roof surface and although it is possible to attach it to your fireplace chimney with straps it is not the best idea.
Your dish must be installed with a non obstructed view to the satellite that it will receive reception from. In some heavily populated areas or on homes with surrounding trees it may mean placing the dish on a pole or outbuilding or on the top of an apartment or condo.
Also keep the dish away from electric lines and high enough that it will be out of distance from flying balls or frisbees and psychopaths that might try to steel it.
Dishes have a limit to the number of televisions they can serve.
If you have many televisions in your home you may find that you can only hook up the primary ones so expect the kids to cry foul when you tell them only 4 TVs are going to get connected and that doesn’t include their bedroom.
Set Top Boxes
Each television that you connect to your dish will require a Converter Box. Yes unfortunately you can not run the signal like old Cable Tv to all the rooms and plug it into the back of any cable ready or Digital Television.
This also means you will be selecting your stations from the box and controlling volume and other features from your television.
When selecting the set top boxes remember to get the ones that best meet your needs. Some have the ability to connect another tv through Radio Signal and others have DVR options. The more options that you select the higher the price of your monthly bill.
If you currently have Cable Television or a shared Antenna the wiring in your wall will most likely not be sufficient to connect to your new Dish.
Satellite Dishes like to have what is called a Home Run or a single wire with no breaks between the Dish and the Set Top Box.
In some cases a technician can reroute some of your internal Cable TV wires for reuse but don’t be surprised if they tell you new wires need to be run. This is one of the reasons to get free installs…
If the Dish Company does Modify your Cable TV Wires inside your house and you decide to switch back to Cable TV expect problems when they come out to turn the service back on. Once a home is wired by one service they usually don’t take kindly to alterations even if you do own all the wires inside your home.. For this reason expect to pay a rewire fee of about $150 per set unless you can get a special deal.
No matter what solution you choose make sure you look at all your options and always ALWAYS ask about special deals, free install service and READ YOUR CONTRACT BEFORE YOU SIGN!