The cable providers that are available in any given area vary dramatically. Although there are a number of national companies, most do not have operations in every market. Deregulation and new technologies have all broadened the types of businesses that can offer cable service. This makes finding and choosing the best cable company something that must be done on a local level. The first step is to determine what companies are available. Several other factors will help when making a decision.
The networks and stations that each cable company carries are different. Smaller companies might only carry a handful of well-known stations while a large national provider could have hundreds or thousands of channels. One thing to look for is what local stations the company carries. Some cable providers do not provide access to local stations because of contract disputes or technical complexities. Other providers carry only one or two local channels and ignore the rest. The best practice is to look over the complete list of stations provided by the service.
Many cable providers now offer bundles or a variety of optional features. Some of these might be very important for certain households. Cable subscriptions could include Internet access and digital phone service. Others have packages that include high-definition stations or three-dimensional (3D) stations. Digital providers often offer video-on-demand services, digital recording and interactive channel guides. The best cable company will provide the additional features that are necessary for maximum enjoyment of the programming provided.
The increasing variety of channels, packages and services available has resulted in more complex contracts than ever before. The best cable company should provide an easily understood contract. The contract should clearly state any early cancellation fees, additional fees for using advertised services and equipment costs. The length of the contract is important to understand. Some companies require two or three-year commitments that cannot be broken. Smaller and newer companies sometimes offer monthly billing with no contract.
Cable companies use special offers to draw in new customers. Looking at the special offers that are available could help when comparing cable providers. The offers might waive installation fees or lower the monthly cost of service. Most offers are limited and will last for only a certain period of time such as the first three months of service. A few offers might last for an entire year or more. Some providers will actually renew these longer offers at the end of the service contract in order to keep customers. Special offers should be considered when looking at the cost of cable service since they will help to save money.
The installation requirements for cable service are an important consideration. Homes or apartments that already have existing cable lines normally experience very few installation issues. New homes, however, might require extensive drilling through exterior walls in order to run the cables into the house. Digital providers might not be able to deliver service without modern phone lines in the area. Satellite cable companies will need to install a satellite dish in a very visible location outside of the home. It is best to understand exactly what installation will entail before deciding which cable company is the best.