Q. I have cable but I’ve been thinking about getting DIRECTV. But I live in an area where we get a lot of rain and I’m told this is a problem with satellite. We also have some large trees in our backyard. Could this be a problem, too? — Mark, Seattle, Washington.
Both cable and satellite TV (and the telco TV) services can undergo outages due to weather. A heavy storm could not knock out your area’s cable system, for instance, causing your TV picture and Internet to go out.
But it is also true that a steady, particularly heavy rain can block the signal from the communications satellite in the sky to your satellite dish. Such an outage is usually infrequent and short, but if you live in an area that experiences more rain than normal, you might see more outages. (Note: Snow can also cause outages, particularly if the snow piles up on your dish.)
As to your tree problem, the dishes of DIRECTV and Dish both need a clear southern view of the sky to capture the signals. That doesn’t mean there can’t be any trees, but it does mean that you need some clearance where the signal comes in.
If you’re not sure if a satellite dish is a viable option for you, call either DIRECTV or Dish and ask them to come out to do a feasibility test. They can survey the area and determine if you will be able to receive a sufficiently strong signal to get all your channels. They might suggest shaving some tree branches or doing something a little different such as putting the dish on a pole on your roof to elevate it above the trees so it can capture a stronger signal.
Since the installers are local contractors, they also can provide some advice on the local rain issue.
Bottom line: If you really want satellite, don’t give up the idea until you’ve given in a try at your house. Every home is different.
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