DTH or Digital Cable TV Set Top Box – What Should I Choose?

Government has made it mandatory to get set-top-boxes (STBs) to avail cable TV services. Are you planning to purchase a STB or looking for any other alternative? Of course, there is only one alternative to STB – a DTH connection. Many of you might have thought through this and are looking for some more clarity to choose the best, isn’t it? If ‘Yes’, this article is for you. We made a comparison between a DTH and digital cable TV considering various factors which could help you take an informed decision.

DTH Digital Cable TV (STB)
Initial Cost

Have to buy both set-top-box and dish. A standard set-top box would cost around Rs.1,500-2,500 along with installation charges.

Only set-top-box is required – Costs around Rs.1,200-1,500.


Monthly expenses

Have to choose the package based on your interests. A typical package starts from Rs.150 – 410. You can also get additional channels by paying extra.

Based on your area a typical cable connection (as we all know) would cost you around Rs. 150 – 200. Once digitised, the cable operators may increase the monthly tariff (not sure)

Relocation and charges

Relocation to anywhere in India is possible. You can use the same equipment anywhere. De-installation and re-installation charges are applicable. May cost you around Rs.125-500, based on the service provider.

If you relocate in the same area, where the local operator is the same, then you can use the same set-top-box. If not, you need to have another set-top-box that matches the bandwidth. If new box is required, you again need to spend Rs.1,200-1,500.

Ease of installation

Both the dish and the STB needs to be installed by professionals. Availability of the equipment and the service personnel is high. Thus, you can get it installed quickly.

Only STB need to be installed. Your cable operator can do it. However, as of now, due to the unavailability of STBs and less number of cable operators, it may take some time.

Quality of telecast (both audio and video)

Digital signal – Picture and audio clarity and quality will be superior.

With digitisation you can now experience better picture and sound quality compared to the old cable TV. Compared to a DTH, though there is a little quality variation, the difference is not that significant.

Number of channels

Depends on you package. You can control the number as well as the cost. However, DTH has a capacity constraint, it cannot accommodate many channels. Moreover, local channels are not available in DTH.

The availability of bandwidth (capacity) is huge in digital cable. Hence you can get more number of channels than regular. As of now, around 500 channels are available across the world. If your cable operator supports you can receive all the channels. You can also get all the local channels.

Types of set-top boxes

DTH operators offer different types of set-top boxes such as Standard definition box, High definition box and a HD Digital Video Recorder box. However, the price varies for each service provider.

There is no such facility/service from the cable operators. You can only get the standard box.

Customer service – Issue resolving time

24/7 call center assistance is available. Small issues will be resolved on phone. But major issues may take a week time to get fixed once the complaint is lodged. The quality and the period of issue resolutions vary based on the service provider.

24/7 assistance, online issue resolving is not available. But most of the times local operator is available just a phone call away. You can call him and get the issue resolved.

Mode of monthly payment

Can recharge through Internet using debit/credit cards and the recharge vouchers are easily available at the dealers. But once the due date for monthly renewal is over, service will be disconnected. One advantage over cable TV is that if you are not staying for one month, you can stop doing recharge and save that money.

Bill collectors will typically come and collect the bill (in most cases only cash payment). No service interruptions, even though you delay for 10-15 days. May be after complete digitization we may expect such things. Even though you are not at home for long time still you need to pay the monthly bill.

Service interruption

Rain or bad weather may cause few minutes of interruption. The frequency of interruption will be more during rainy seasons which is irritating. But the service may not get affected due to power-cut at the service provider.

Broken cables and power cuts at service providers place interrupts the transmission.

Other services and features

You can get value added and interactive services like on-screen shopping, stock market updates, cooking lessons, games, and movie-on-demand. If you have HD Digital Video Recorder box, you can record/pause/rewind/play the live TV.

We cannot get any such services from the cable service, but still it is possible to provide Internet services through the same cable.

You may also like to read:
Why You Need a Set-Top Box?

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