Bundle Face-Off: DIRECTV vs DISH

DIRECTV Bundles (TV + Internet)
DISH Bundles (TV + Internet)
Comparison Score: 91/100
Customer Rating: (4.0/5)
Comparison Score: 89/100
Customer Rating: (4.1/5)
Price
$49.94 per month

Promo: 60% off, 24 month contract required.
TV: Entertainment Plan
Internet: up to 5 MBPS

Update: With AT&T's acquisition of DIRECTV, we recommend you also check out their joint bundles: DIRECTV + DSL internet.
Price
$69.98 per month

Promo: 50% off, 24 month contract required.
TV: America's Top 120
Internet: up to 5 MBPS

Qualifying TV Package(s)

DIRECTV's bundle deal includes all their programming packages; the larger the plan, the slightly higher the price. Here's the cost for each (TV + internet):

Entertainment: $49.94/mo
Choice: $54.94/mo
Choice XTRA: $55.94/mo
Ultimate and Premier: $57.94/mo

Qualifying TV Package(s)

As with DIRECTV, DISH will bundle with any of their TV plans. Price-wise (and channel for channel), their bundles cost a little bit more. Here's the breakdown:

Smart Pack: $69.98/mo
America's Top 120: $69.98/mo
America's Top 200: $79.98/mo
America's Top 250: $84.98/mo

Internet Speed
5-10 Mbps

As you probably know, satellite internet works by delivering an over-the-air internet signal from an orbiting satellite to the dish on your home. As a result, it's highly dependent (even moreso than TV) on a clear line of sight from the satellite to roof. So, as long as you're in a good to excellent area (check with your retailer), you'll get close to 10 Mbps. Yeah, compared to cable internet, that's not very fast, but if you're in a rural area and it's your only option, it's a huge step up from dial-up.

Internet Speed
5-10 Mbps

Satellite internet speeds are only restricted by their software and hardware combination. Over the past decade, major strides have been made in the satellite broadband world (years ago, it was barely at 1 Mpbs); I wouldn't be surprised if it eclipsed 25 Mbps in a few years. Until then, it's all about your needs. If you don't require a ton of bandwidth and like the idea of combining your TV and internet bill (and saving a few bucks a month to boot), give it serious consideration.

Data Caps
10 - 40 GB/month

Similar to most cellphone plans, sat internet comes with data caps. The vast majority of users don't come anywhere close to them, but since it's a supply and demand issue, providers need to ensure users (that really should be on cable/dsl internet) don't cause the network to lag.

Data Caps
10 - 40 GB/month

Data allowances are set by the providers, so no surprise that DIRECTV and DISH share the same levels.


Internet Providers
HughesNet and Windstream

DIRECTV delivers the internet via one of their preferred partners, either HughesNet or Windstream (your location determines which you'll use). We've tried out both, and they essentially offer the exact same service/bandwidth. Logistically, even though a 3rd party provides the service, all your bills and customer service are conveniently handled through DIRECTV.

Internet Providers (dishNET)
HughesNet and ViaSat

Just as with DIRECTV, DISH relies on a partner to provide the service, branded as dishNET. In this case, their second provider is ViaSat instead of Windstream. Though the two have slightly different coverage areas, their speed, performance and reliability have historically been identical (it's a relatively small industry, so new technologies get quickly adopted by competitors).

Phone Option?
Yes

DIRECTV offers a VOIP (voice-over IP) phone service as well. However, if your average internet speed is less than 3 Mbps you may experience distortion and/or static while on the phone and browsing the internet at the same time.

Phone Option?)
Yes

As with DIRECTV, you can usually add a phone option to your bundle. Since they don't always (actively) offer it, if you're interested, be sure to ask your sales representative. Option B is to just setup your own VoIP service: Vonage, Skype, etc.

Overall
Solid Package

For the foreseeable future, satellite internet will continue to fill a specific niche...folks living in remote areas or those who don't need a high-speed connection. That is, if you want to stream movies or large media, you'll probably end up a bit frustrated. However, if you primarily use the internet to browse non-resource intensive sites, check email, etc., it just might be a perfect fit.

Overall
Delivers as Promised

For a couple years, we actually had the dishNET service and other than a couple outages, were very pleased with it. When I caught the Netflix bug, I eventually did outgrow it, however. Movies streamed OK, but the occasional lag and buffering persuaded me to upgrade to cable internet. Otherwise, we'd still be a satisfied customer.


or call 1-800-347-5750
or call 1-888-336-3795


BUYING GUIDE

DIRECTV VS. DISH
Confused about satellite TV? Compare the pros and cons of the leading providers here.
Compare the Deals
View a side-by-side comparison of the top satellite promos currently available to new customers.
Channel Lineups
Search this interactive table and find out which packages include your favorite channels.
DIRECTV Genie
If you need to hook up more than a couple TVs, consider upgrading to the Genie whole-home DVR system.
DISH Hopper
The first whole-home DVR system on the market, learn about how it skips commercials, syncs your TVs, etc.
Cable VS. Satellite
If you'd rather go coax, check out this breakdown of cable's features and its leading providers.

The Future of Satellite Internet

Mobile internet via 4G and LTE (for smartphones and tablets) has exploded over the past few years and satellite internet has been happily along for the ride. The next wave just gaining some traction is high altitude WIFI...that is, internet on airline flights. A few airlines have already launched their service -- speeds are still relatively slow (<10 Mbps), mainly due to a lack of satellite coverage. With the demand, more (and better) satellites are being launched. In addition, some providers are even combining terrestrial (cell) towers with satellites. The end result is a remarkably high level of coverage, even during international flights, which traditionally drop internet signals. So, before long, you should be able to stream your favorite movies or play live games, even at 30,000 feet.

Once all the infrastructure is in place, internet via DIRECTV and DISH should quickly follow suit. At the current rate, I wouldn't be surprised if bandwidth speeds doubled over the next few years. If history is any indication, prices shouldn't increase either as supply and demand will set the market... a win win for everyone.

Have something to share?

If you've tried any/all of the Satellite Internet services on this page or would like to suggest an important feature not covered, please feel free to get in touch.

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