Difference Between Satellite, Cable And Terrestrial TV


Television (the electronic delivery of moving images and sound from a source to a receiver), is currently delivered in a variety of ways: “over the air” by terrestrial radio waves (traditional broadcast TV); along coaxial cables (cable TV); reflected off of satellites held in geostationary Earth orbit (direct broadcast satellite, or DBS, TV); streamed through the Internet; and recorded optically on digital video discs (DVDs) and Blu-ray discs. Let’s look at main Difference Between Satellite, Cable And Terrestrial TV.

What Is Cable TV?

Cable television, is generally, any system that distributes television signals by means of coaxial or fibre-optic cables. Cable-television systems originated in the United States in the late 1940s and were designed to improve reception of commercial network broadcasts in remote and hilly areas. During the 1960s they were introduced in many large metropolitan areas where local television reception is degraded by the reflection of signals from tall buildings.

The cable TV systems use an integrated antenna to receive broadcast signals (often from communications satellites), which they then retransmit through cables to homes and establishments in the local area subscribing to the service. Subscribers pay a specified monthly service charge in addition to an initial installation fee.

Besides bringing high-quality signals to subscribers, the systems provide additional television channels. Some of these systems can deliver 150 or more channels because they distribute signals occurring within the normal television broadcast band as well as nonbroadcast frequencies. 

What is Setellite TV?

Satellite television is a service that delivers television programming to viewers by relaying it from a communications satellite orbiting the Earth directly to the viewer’s location.

The signals are received via an outdoor parabolic antenna commonly referred to as a satellite dish and a low-noise block downconverter. A satellite receiver then decodes the desired television program for viewing on a television set. Receivers can be external set-top boxes, or a built-in television tuner.

In other words, satellite television installation allows you to receive television and radio services through a satellite dish. The services are transmitted from an earth station to a set of geostationary satellites. The signals are then returned to earth where they are picked up by the satellite dish. You need a set-top box or satellite-enabled television to decode the signals. 

Satellite television provides a wide range of channels and services. It is usually the only television available in many remote geographic areas without terrestrial television or cable television service.

Also Read: Difference Between Android And Smart TV

What is Terrestrial TV?

Terrestrial television is a type of television broadcasting in which the television signal is transmitted by radio waves from the terrestrial (Earth-based) transmitter of a television station to a TV receiver having an antenna. The term terrestrial is more common in Europe and Latin America, while in Canada and the United States is is referred to as Broadcast or over-the-air television (OTA).

The term “terrestrial” is used to distinguish this type from the newer technologies of satellite television (direct broadcast satellite or DBS television), in which the television signal is transmitted to the receiver from an overhead satellite; cable television, in which the signal is carried to the receiver through a cable; and Internet Protocol television, in which the signal is received over an Internet stream or on a network utilizing the Internet Protocol.

Also Read: Difference Between Digital And Smart TV


Satellite broadcasting is a method of getting television programming into your home that relies on transmitting data from a communications satellite in outer space. These transmissions are routed through a satellite network and then distributed to consumers’ homes. Unlike cable television, which may not require any additional equipment, satellite television relies on the use of a satellite dish to receive programming. In turn, the information received through the dish is sent to a set-top box inside the consumer’s home.

Terrestrial television uses a network of transmission towers to relay the signal across a given geographical area. Each transmission tower has a specific area of coverage, and it is the network of coverage that provides television signals everywhere.

The broadcast signal is sent to the various towers and if you are within the area covered by a tower, then you will be able to receive the broadcast services via a terrestrial aerial which is usually placed on your roof or on your television set (depending on how strong the signal is that you are receiving).