DTH or Digital cable connection: Which is better? How do they differ?
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Digital TV transmissions are of two kinds. One is Direct to Home (D2H) and the other Cable TV. Though it is 10 years since Dish TV has come about, it has not expanded much. It is possible to get quality Television programmes through both means. However, there are lots of differences between the two. When you know what they are, you can decide which service is better.

Even though there are several digital TV services, some people are still watching TV programmes without Set-top-box. The main reason for this is, Set-top-box is quiet expensive. They also hesitate to take Dish TV connection for the same reason that it is as expensive as the Set-top-box. Whatever the reasons, it is entirely up to the customer what service he would like to avail: Either DTH or Cable TV. However, he has to know which service would be more useful to him. In this context, the question arises, as to which is better. Let us learn the differences between the two:

Cost-effectiveness
representative imageThere are more than five DTH companies in India. The Set-top-boxes of all companies cost approximately, Rs. 1,600 each. The cost of each Cable TV Set-top-box is between Rs. 1,200 to Rs. 1,300. DTH companies charge around Rs. 150 per month for viewing TV programmes, in South India. In the North the same is around Rs. 200. In the first package, all channels are not transmitted. But thorough cable TV Set-top-box, all channels can be viewed from the start.  The monthly rentals are also similar, like Rs. 150 to Rs. 200.

representative imageInterruptions
Programmes might be interrupted some times, both in DTH as well as in cable TV. DTH signals are interrupted on their way to the Set-top-box, in case of cloudy weather or rain. Transmission might stop. However, this problem is absent in digital cable TV connection. But during power cut, cable TV shuts down. Power is supplied normally in three phases. If there is power cut in the house or phase, where the junction box of your cable connection is placed, you cannot watch programmes in the TV in your house. You can watch programmes though, if you have inverter or generator at home, through DTH. But this is not possible through Cable TV connection.

Variety of packages
There are more than one DTH packages available. You can choose the package as per your need and likes. You can add regional channels to the base package. You can subscribe for Sports package, when the cricket series begins. As for Cable TV connection, the regional channels keep changing as per the operator. Instead of a few channels per package, they will transmit all channels under one package. The channels keep changing frequently. Some channels disappear and new ones get added instead.

Qualityrepresentative image
Whatever the service, viewers will feel comfortable and are satisfied only with quality transmission. DTH Set-top-boxes have one year warranty. Any kind of defects will be repaired free of cost. Set-top-boxes of Cable TV too come with one year warranty. But the quality of service is better in DTH connections. DTH transmissions too are of better quality than Cable TVs. Good quality transmission is available in cable TVs too. But DTH transmission is any day better.

DTH companies are pro-active in responding to customers complaints. Customers can call 24x7 toll free number and avail their services. A majority of the complaints are resolved within 24 hours. The response depends on the DTH Company. As for Cable operators, it is a well-known fact that they do not respond immediately and you have to call them at least 10 times before they come to resolve the issue. A majority of Cable operators function in this fashion. At some places the response rate among them is good.

In case of shifting
DTH connection can be changed anywhere in the country, easily. But there is no portability in cable TV connection. DTH connections are useful to those who keep shifting from one locality to another in the same area or between different regions, frequently. This is because the same Cable operator is not available in all areas of one city. Especially the Set-top box of each operator is different and each time you will have to change the Set-top- box. Similarly, if you shift from one town to another, you will face the same problem. For such persons, DTH connections are ideal.
                                                                   
Charges
DTH is a prepaid service. Services can be availed only if it is recharged. If you are planning to be away from home say for a few months, do not recharge your connection. For Cable TV connection, whether or not you are there or whether or not you watch the programmes, you must pay the monthly rentals. However, the cable operator will accede to your request, in case you are unable to pay for say one month and the amount will be debited to the next month's bill.

representative imageChannels
As far as regional language channels are concerned, you will have to subscribe for a separate package, with DTH connection. The basic package in DTH will be mostly news channels. But such problems do not occur with Cable TV connections, as all the operators will generally run all regional channels. But in case you are out town, and want to watch channels of your mother tongue, than you will have to take separate package from your Cable operator.

Special facilities
You can avail extra facilities with DTH connection. Set-top-boxes with storage capacity and recording facility are available. Your favourite TV programmes can be recorded. You can rewind or fast forward while watching TV, and watch all your favourite programmes. Supposing you are not at home to watch any programme of your choice, you can just press the recording option and the programme will be recorded, for you to watch later. The whole family can watch the film of its choice. You will need to pay Rs. 50 extra for this. There are many such value-oriented programmes. DTH is the only connection which has 4K resolution picture quality.

Companies offering DTH
Airtel DTH, Tata Sky, Dish TV, Sun Direct, Reliance Digital, Videocon DTH, Doordarshan Direct to Home etc., Companies offer DTH services. Two main Cable TV connectors are Hathway and Citi Cable.

Technology
Tata Sky, Dish TV: MP Easy-2 Technology, Videocon, Sun Direct, Reliance, Air Tel: MP Easy-4 technology. Videocon and Airtel have advanced DVB S-2 technology. The technology helps in better interactive services.

High Definition (HD) 3D
Videocon DTH has offered many HD channels. The Set-top-box can be improved up to 1080 P, in Reliance. Competitors are using 1080 I Set-top-box. There is 3D ready option in Airtel, Videocon and Reliance DTH. Among all these, Airtel is the only DTH that has technology that can adapt to future changes. If you want DTH connection with ultra modern technology, you should choose Airtel. Customer service is also quick. Packages in Dish TV are cheap. There is scope for adding more channels. However, it is a failure where service is concerned. Sun Direct is the main company in the South. It has packages that cover all regional languages.

Cable, DTH Inter-Protocol Television (IPTV) is another service. Internet service providers transmit Television programmes via internet connection. Even though BSNL is trying it's best to get such services to the users, it has not succeeded.

What is Set-top-box?representative image
It is a device that changes the encrypted signals received from a cable or Satellite dish, in to content. Viewing of the transmission is possible with this. There are three types of Set-top-boxes in Dish TVs. One is Standard Definition (SD), second is High Definition (HD) and another High Definition digital video recorder. HD set of box is useful only with a HD TV. For a normal CRT TV, an SD set-top-box is adequate.

Why Set-top-box for cable TV?
Quality programmes can be watched with Set-top-box. TV programmes have changed to digital long ago. The quality of signals is poor without Set-top-box. There is no 100 per cent clarity in the picture or speech. With Set-top-box, the quality of the programmes improves and becomes easy to watch. With Set-top-box, the information regarding what is happening in your house will reach the government agencies that check illegal transmissions. Realistically speaking, even Cable TV connectors can offer value-added services, like DTH providers. But they do not do this.

DTH began in 2003
Proposals to start DTH services in the country were placed in 1996. But it was shelved then, owing to national security. Dish TV began DTH services for the first time on October 2nd, in 2003. Doordarshan DD Free Dish services began in December 2004. All DD channels are available free of cost through this.

representative imageTV programmes...Cable-DTH
Broadcast centre is the key part of TV programmes. It receives the signals from the channel centre and sends them to the satellite. Signals from the broadcast centre are received by the satellite that compresses them and sends them back to earth for telecast. DTH centres have the receivers that take the signals from the satellite and send them to the Set-top-boxes, which are further transformed and send to the TV for telecast.

At present, there are two types of TV transmission (broadcast) networks in the country. One is Terrestrial and the other cable and satellite. Doordarshan is the only channel that uses Terrestrial network. You can watch DD programmes with just the help of an antenna. There is no need for any other connection. Earlier, only this was available in every home. Even today, at least three crore people in the country watch through Terrestrial network.

representative imageCable and Satellite (C&S) network sends signals from broadcast centre in TV channel to the satellite. Multi- system operators (MSO) downlink signals through the Set-top-box from the Satellite. Free programmes on TV are not encoded. Anyone can downlink them. Paid channels will have to decode MSO. The particular channel will charge a certain amount. The signals that a down linked are sent to the local Cable operators either through digital or analog network. Only 70-80 channels can be telecast through analog network. Through digital network at 500 channels can be telecast easily. That is why, if there is no Set-top-box, no morethan 80 channels can be telecast.
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