Declare Your Cable Indepedance!
We, like most everyone else, put up with crappy cable service for some time. We only got one feed from any given premium channel, could not get it in stereo, had all kinds of interference and noise problems, suffered numerous, sometimes lengthy service outages, and worst of all, had to deal with a "take it or leave it" attitude from the cable comapany. Finally, one day in 1991, we received notice of yet another rate increase. In return for the additional cost, we would receive a pay-per-view option. At that time the featured pay-per-view programming was "Wrestlemania". That did it! We called the cable company that day and said disconnect it NOW! Pat went to Radio Shack and bought a TV antenna for local coverage (We already had an FM antenna more non-service from the cable guys), and bought a C-Band Satellite system from a local dealer (We should have bought it from Skyvision...We would have saved a bundle!). It was very satisfying...the day the cable guy showed up to disconnect us, we were installing the big dish. We have never regretted it, and will NEVER go back to Cable. Our viewing habits now are such that if cable was the only option, we would do without!
But we doubt that will ever be necessary. Finally the small dish system came about to give the cable guys some real competetion. Our BUD (Big Ugly Dish) is still our primary source of programming (local TV is a joke, but occasionally we need access to local, news), but we have also ended up with a small dish system from Dish Networks. We haven't played with ths small dish system too much, but we will post some comparisons and opinions as we develop the site. For now, suffice it to say we still prefer the big dish system because of programming options and signal quality. We don't have to subscribe to a programming package...we can pick and choose the services we want, and end up paying a LOT less. We don't have problems with rain fade that the small dish systems do. And you still get a lot of quality programming for free, for instance, NASA Select, with launch to landing coverage of the shuttle missions (at least now Dish Networks has that in their base package). As far as reliability, the big dish has been FAR more reliable that cable EVER was. Since 1991, it has been down twice. In both instances the dish positioner wore out. Even then, we could lock the dish on one satellte and get the programming that was most inportant to us, until the replacement positioner arrived.
Of course, when the cable company came to disconnect the cable, they left the wire connected to our house, and in the way. So it is now entangled and dangling in the tree closest to the pole!