Many DIRECTV and Dish subscribers say they can not cancel their satellite service even if they wanted to because they have no TV alternatives due to limited or no Internet service. published an article last week detailing how some DIRECTV and Dish subscribers can’t terminate service because they are stuck in two-year contracts. While they might want to try a less expensive streaming service, they can’t because they don’t want to pay the cancellation fees that come with the two-year agreement. (Both Dish and DIRECTV require new customers to sign two-year contracts in exchange for lower entry prices and other incentives.)

However, the story triggered an outpouring of comments from rural satellite subscribers who say the contract is not their main concern. They say they can’t switch to streaming because there are no reliable Internet services in their area. The FCC this year estimated that 21 million rural Americans still lack access to high-speed Internet, although some believe the number is higher. 

The limited TV options in rural areas is one reason why some industry analysts believe a rumored DIRECTV-Dish merger would have difficulty winning federal approval. The elimination of one satellite service would further narrow the viewing choices for rural residents.

“The Only reason we don’t drop DIRECTV is because we Do Not have Internet Service that will work for good reasonable service,” Loretta Hankins wrote in the TV Answer Man reader forum. “If you don’t live in the city, country people are at a huge disadvantage! We would love to cancel Directv but it is what we can get in our area.”

“Many subscribers to Dish and Direct live in Rural areas where there is little choice. With no or little internet streaming services are not a good option. Perhaps in time rural areas will get access to internet and then have more options on programming,” wrote Leticia Smith.

“I have Dish because of no high speed internet is available in this rural area. Even cellular service isn’t an option,” added ‘Steph.’

Some rural satellite customers say they even have difficulty getting local signals from antennas because they live too far away from the stations’ towers, among other reasons.

” Putting up a roof antenna is a non-starter due to topographical limitations,” wrote Samuel Coleman.

“No high speed internet and only one channel over terrestrial antenna,” added Chad Wilson. “As soon as I can get internet service over 1mbs Dish will be gone!!

Some rural subs who posted messages acknowledged they could move to areas where Internet is available. But they are content with forgoing some modern conveniences for the peace that a rural area can bring.

“We are off grid – there are zero services/utilities,” wrote JR Hill. “We have Dish for TV (dropped DTV two+ years ago). We have HughesNet for internet so there is no streaming here due to speed and data quotas. Overall we enjoy the quality of life much more than the gadgets.”

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— Phillip Swann