Perfect Television ServiceDisclaimer: there is no such thing. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let me share my satellite/cable experience of the past few years.

The major contenders in my area are DIRECT TV and Dish Network (both satellite providers), Utopia (fiber optic broadband), Qwest (DSL), and Comcast (cable).

The choices can be overwhelming and confusing. My husband has a PhD in electrical engineering, so what's Greek to me is simple English to him. But without being a techno-geek, you may not understand the distinctions at all. In my opinion, for most of us it doesn't matter. What matters is that we consider the features that are important to us and the associated costs in getting those features. Here's my non-technical take on the services listed above.

DSL and Cable

We have not used either Qwest or Comcast, so I cannot assess their performance.


Dish Network Satellite

For a number of years in Florida we used Dish Network as our satellite provider. It was our first experience with satellite and when we moved to Utah in 2001 we kept Dish. We were very happy with the cost and the options. Most importantly, we really like the service. The programs were clear and sharp. Changing channels was quick and seamless. The DVR worked well and was fairly intuitive.

The one drawback? Dish Network doesn't carry the MountainWest Sports Network (The Mountain”). Now, we're not huge sports fans, so normally this wouldn't be a big deal. But our alma mater, BYU, happens to have signed an exclusive contract with The Mountain to broadcast all non-network games. And missing a single BYU football game is like having your liver cut out with no anesthesia. And that's a serious drawback.

Direct TV Satellite

When we moved Eagle Mountain to the American Fork rental home, we choose Direct TV satellite. They cost a bit more, changing channels is a dizzying experience with mixed feeds of multiple channels for a number of seconds, and the DVR system took some getting used to. Direct TV carries the The Mountain. And that was their trump card.

Fiber Optic Broadband

Currently in our rental house we use Utopia, provided by PrimeTime Communications. We get a package deal with television, internet, and voice over IP. The internet part is great and fast. The VoIP is moderately good. The television is probably the worst we've had in the past two decades. And since we're talking TV, here are the details:

  • Glitchy broadcast of shows with blips and burps and stutters throughout the show
  • Very basic remote functions, not elegantly implemented.
  • Cumbersome DVR interface, that makes it a major headache, for example, to delete the 4,324 episodes of Dora the Explorer that you six-year-old recorded.
  • Offers The Mountain
  • Good price on package deal

The Verdict

We are still looking at options. If we were just considering features, I'd still go with DIRECTTV. If Dish finally, ever took the plunge and contracted with The Mountain, I'd go with them in a heartbeat. But Utopia hangs on in contention due to both offering The Mountain and having a really good price.

We're watching what these companies do in the next few months before deciding what service to use in the new house.

What are your experiences, both good and bad, with television service companies?