Which is Best for HDTV: Cable, Fiber or Satellite?

hdtv, high definition television

Consumers have more choice than ever when it comes to TV service, with options available from cable, satellite and fiber TV providers. One of the things consumers care most about when shopping is which of their options offers the best HD experience to make the most of their HDTV. There is no clear-cut winner amongst the three when it comes to HD service, but there are plenty of differences to consider. Here's what to keep in mind when shopping.

Picture Quality

HD picture quality is generally the same, no matter which type of service you go with. There are bandwidth constraints the companies have to deal with, but they deal with these by limited the amount of HD channels offered, not the quality of the channels. The most eagle-eyed technophiles will probably report they see a slightly better picture with fiber options, but no matter who you choose, you should get nearly-identical crystal-clear service.

Channel Availability

Due to the limited bandwidth of their technology, cable and satellite are more limited in the amount of channels it can provide in HD, while fiber options typically do not run in to these constraints. No matter what option you go with, you should be able to receive your local channels, most regular "cable" channels and movie channels in HD. With clever compression techniques, cable and satellite can offer almost as many HD option, but if you want the most HD options, generally fiber is the one that delivers. Make sure you check the channel lineups and choose an option that includes all of your favorite channels in HD.

Here are some special channel considerations to keep in mind:

  • Sports - Not all systems are licensed to show all sporting events. While you should get most of your local games in HD regardless, if you want a "total package" that grants access to all games, you might have to choose . The best example of this is DIRECTV's Sunday Ticket that lets you watch all NFL games; this service is not available on cable or fiber.
  • OnDemand - OnDemand programming is becoming more and more popular, and more and more of it is available in HD. If OnDemand content is important to you, check your options to see which ones deliver the variety you want.
  • Pay-Per-View - Much like OnDemand programming if pay-per-view options are important to you, make sure you pick an option with the number of HD choices you need.


To receive a high-definition signal, you'll need an HD-capable receiver. Virtually all options on the market today come with an HD receiver, but remember to check to see if there are high fees associated with this equipment, or if they require long-term contracts. If you need multiple rooms to have HD service, look into any fees associated with additional HD receivers, too.

DVRs are becoming standard equipment for most people these days. Again, you'll need to make sure the provider offers an HD-capable DVR unit (which usually contains the receiver as well) if you want to record shows in HD, and that there aren't excessive fees or contracts for the service. Due to bandwidth constraints, some DVRs will only be able to record one or two shows at once in HD, but others can record four or more simultaneously. If recording lots of shows at once is important to you, make sure you choose an option that can meet your needs.


As far as your options go, they are all competitively priced and there is no clear-cut bargain winner. To find the best deal, compare offers here on WhiteFence to see what the prices are like right now in your area. Keep an eye out to see if any providers are offering special deals, as these can save you big.

One thing to keep in mind is that it is easier to find bundled options that combine your TV, Internet and phone service with fiber and cable companies, which can help lower the overall cost of your television service big time.

Other Considerations

Believe if or not, there are even more factors to consider:

  • Availability - Not every type of service is available in every area. Satellite service is available nationwide, but fiber and cable availability varies from area to area.
  • Signal Strength - Due to satellite transmission being a wireless delivery method, you'll need a clear view of the southern sky to be able to receive satellite service.
  • Weather - Typically, weather does not affect cable or fiber service. However, if you live in an area with severe weather, there is potential for this to interrupt satellite service.
  • Installation - Generally, there is no significant difference with installation. The biggest difference is that satellite service requires a dish mounted to your home.
  • Contracts - Satellite providers usually require a contract, but they are less prevalent with fiber and cable. If you are averse to committing to one company, keep this in mind.

Now that you have a better handle on which type of TV service will deliver you the best in HD service, it's time to see what's available where you live and start comparing options. Enter your address now and WhiteFence will let you know providers and plans are available in your area and how much they cost. Once you make a decision, you can place your order right here on the site. Get started now!