Navin Harbola, Vice President-Technology, Castle Media Pvt. Ltd.

The cable TV arrived a few decades ago and replaced TV antennas, which were used for receiving television transmission. The cable TV operators offered many channels and the setup included huge dish-shaped antennas that were placed on top of the cable operator's office or his house. Customers could get a connection by paying a deposit and monthly subscription charges. This setup included the laying of cables through narrow streets and pathways alongside buildings. Any disruption to service due to rain or other reasons led to poor signal transmission.

The DTH (direct-to-home) service has emerged as a better alternative to cable television services. DTH service is the next-generation technology that offers different kind of TV viewing experience. One needs to have a small dish for receiving the TV/AV signal and a set-top box for receiving and delivering the signal.


  • lDTH provides better picture, audio and sound quality than cable TV. It is because cable TV in India makes use of analog signals while DTH uses digital signals that are transmitted directly from the satellite to home. The cable transmission is still analog in spite of digital transmission and reception of TV signals.
  • lDTH services provide stereophonic sound effects that are much better than the sound quality received from cable TV.
  • lDTH services are available even in remote areas and locations while the penetration of cable TV is limited to only those terrestrial regions where cable can be laid.
  • lCable TV does not offer any interactive services while DTH services provide enhanced interactive TV services including Internet access, email, video conferencing, and movie-on-demand.
  • lDTH and cable services differ in the way of reaching the consumer's home. In case of DTH, TV channels are transmitted from the satellite directly to a small dish antenna in the window or rooftop of the consumer's home. Thus, it allows the broadcaster to directly connect with the user and does not involve middleman like local cable operator.
  • lCable services are offered via the cables laid by cable operators. It involves the transmission of
    TV channels from the broadcaster via satellite to the dish antenna of local cable operator, which then provides connections to the consumers via cables.
  • lDTH is an advanced next-generation technology that offers as many as 700 channels while cable TV has limitation of transmitting selected number of channels with proper picture and sound quality.
  • lDTH services offer the consumers to select the dynamic program packages they want to use. Thus, consumers will pay for what they want to watch. However, in case of cable TV, consumers do not have much choice to select their preferred channels.
  • lDTH services provide advanced viewing control features such as electronic program guide (EPG); however, there are no such services available with cable TV.
  • lDTH services allow the consumer to move the dish and STB to anywhere conveniently; however, it is not the same with cable TV where consumers have to take new connection at the new location.
  • lDTH gives an option to disconnect the services and save on money for even 5 days. Say, you are on a trip with your family and you are not going to watch TV for 10 days. You can simply call up the customer care and just ask them not to charge for 10 days; it's done. Cable operators do not have options like this. Whether you watch TV or not, money has to be paid at the end of the month.
  • lThe most severe drawback of DTH service is that signal does not reach the set-top box and the picture goes off even when there is slight rainfall in your area or even in cloudy conditions. There is no such drawback in digital cable connection.