Americans have a love/hate relationship with their cable companies. We love our favorite shows; we love being able to watch the game; we love having Dora or Curious George come to the rescue on a long rainy afternoon. But we hate the price tag; we hate having to pay for channels we don’t want, and having to pay extra for channels we do. Over 5% of US households have only broadcast TV and another 4.5% have broadcast TV and broadband. The number of us making the break with our cable companies is growing. But can you still enjoy great programming without the high cost? Is free-to-air satellite an answer?
Here are a few ways you can tune in without cable:
• Use online subscription services like Netflix or Hulu.
• Buy a digital converter box and a good antenna.
• Try free-to-air satellite with equipment you purchase and own – not rent for an extra fee. You can find reputable vendors like Ocean Satellite that offer FTA receivers, dishes, switches, and KU LNBs.
Using subscription services is great, but you do have to pay those monthly fees, you are limited to the shows that are offered, and you must have reliable, consistent high-speed internet. With an antenna, you may be able to pick up local channels, depending on your location and surrounding interference. At this point, a lot of us give up and go back to the cable company, but let’s look at the third option, FTA satellite, before we put down any of our hard-earned cash!
What is FTA?
Thousands of TV channels are broadcast in an unencrypted format; this allows you to bypass the pricey subscription and still get TV channels. Now, if you are a big fan of HBO or Showtime, FTA may not be a substitute: very few premium channels are carried. But there are many other benefits:
• There are scores of foreign channels. This is excellent for those who are from other countries, or even those who are learning foreign languages.
• There are English-language channels.
• No monthly bill or contract.
• Install your dish, connect to receiver, and start watching.
• If you have some time and read the instruction guides, you can go the DIY route for installation of your dish and save more money.
• You own your dish and equipment. While this is an upfront expense, you do not have to pay your monthly bills and there are no rental fees like you get when you have cable or subscription-based satellite TV.
Free-to-air television is a great service for people who want to stay informed, learn more about other cultures, learn a foreign language, keep up with events in their home country or locations where friends and relatives live, and, most importantly, be entertained.
How do you start enjoying FTA satellite TV? You will need to purchase a satellite dish, a receiver, and KU or C band LNB. An LNB is a low-noise block downconverter; it takes the transmission received, amplifies it, and downconverts the block of frequencies to a lower block, so that the signal can be fed into the indoor satellite TV receiver.
Some customers worry that FTA will be expensive: let’s look at a price breakdown. An FTA satellite dish can cost from about $87 to about $160. A receiver can cost about $35, a switch is under $5, and a KU LNB can cost around $5 as well. Say you spend $200 on your equipment and another $100 on professional installation. That is $300. How much is your cable bill? The average American household spends about $70 per month on cable. Within about four months, your FTA equipment has paid for itself, and you never have to pay for television again.
Is your cable bill draining the fun out of TV? Maybe it’s time to change how you watch.