Frequently Asked Questions

Installation

Will the installer put holes in my house?
Where will the dish go?
Will the installer hook up my entertainment center?
Do I need to have the TV’s present at the time of installation?
I have heard stories about poor satellite installations. How can I be sure it will be done right?
I have a big hill by my house. Will I be able to get service?
I live in an apartment. Can I get service?
What do I do when I move?
Do I need a phone line?

Programming

Do I get locals?
What is the signal quality?
Is the signal reliable?
Can I block certain programming from my children?
How long do I have to sign up for?
Can I upgrade my programming without any fees or extension on my commitment?
Can I downgrade my programming without any fees or extension on my commitment?
Do I need to subscribe High Definition programming since I have a High Definition TV?
Can I take the equipment with me when I go camping?
Can I put my account on hold?

Equipment

How many TV’s does each box (receiver) work on?
What is a DVR?
What do I need to get High Definition programming?
How many dishes will be mounted?
How big is the dish?
Will my antenna hook into the box (receiver)?

Internet

Can I get internet over my satellite dish now?

Weather

Does bad weather effect the signal?
Do high winds effect the signal?

Providers

Aren’t Dish Network and DirecTV the same company?
Who is better Dish Network or DirecTV?

High Definition

What is High Definition or HD?
Isn’t HD required to have by 2009?
Where should I go to get an HD TV?
Should I get a plasma or LCD?
What is the difference between 720 and 1080?
What does the i or p mean after the numbers (1080i)?

 

Will the installer put holes in my house?

The installation process in almost all cases will not put any holes in your house. We mount the dish on the home, run a line down to the cable box (usually 15 feet or less) on the outside of your home, and then use all your existing wiring. This makes the job much cleaner and is also more convenient for the installer.

In rare cases lines have to be run in the crawl space or the attic if no lines are present. Since our installers work for us and are not subcontractors we make sure the job is done right the first time, otherwise they are required to go back out at their expense to fix it.

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Where will the dish go?

In the Tri-City area the dish needs to point Southeast at 155° at an angle of 38° up. This allows us to point the dish on virtually any part of the home. Since we need access to the cable box usually we locate the dish in that area. If you are concerned about where the dish will be placed consult with the installer when he comes out in order to assure that you are taken care of. If the dish can be placed in the spot desired the installer will do it.

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Will the installer hook up my entertainment center?

Dish Network and DirecTV do not require us to hook up any equipment for the free standard installation. This can prove to be difficult since our installers are experts in satellite and not stereos, etc. With this said often the installers are quite proficient in most technologies and will hook up the equipment at no additional charge.

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Do I need to have the TV’s present at the time of installation?

Yes. The reason for this is that we want to make sure that all the equipment is working properly before we leave your home. We have found through experience that customers are happier if the job is done right the first time. In some cases if we are notified at the time of signing up we can bring out a portable TV to make sure everything is working properly.

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I have heard stories about poor satellite installations. How can I be sure it will be done right?

Unfortunately this is true in many cases.

At Columbia Basin Satellite & Electric the installers work for us. This means that the job is done to the customers standards otherwise we will come out for free and fix it. All we ask is that if the customer has any certain requirements, that they be present at the time of installation in order to make sure the job meets their standards.

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I have a big hill by my house. Will I be able to get service?

Yes. We install by huge hills routinely without any issues. Since the dish is receiving the signal from 38° from the Southeast, even in cases where the home is right up to the hill it isn’t an issue.

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I live in an apartment. Can I get service?

As long as the dish has a clear line of sight to the Southeast everything should be fine. This will allow the dish to get a working signal. Under FCC regulations landlords are required to allow their tenants to have satellite service. The landlord can stipulate where the dish is placed however.

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What do I do when I move?

Pack up your receivers and remotes with you and call your satellite provider to schedule a professional installation at your new home. Leave the dish on the home.

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Do I need a phone line?

Both Dish Network and DirecTV prefer a phone line to be hooked up to each receiver. The reason for this is for software updates to your equipment. They can send these updates in two ways:1) Through the phone line or 2) through the satellite.

The phone line is much more cost effective for Dish Network and DirecTV, while the satellite updates are very expensive. For this reason on certain receivers they charge a monthly access fee of $5. While not ideal it ends up being much cheaper than the alternative of getting a phone line for $40.

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Do I get locals?

Yes. Tri-Cities residents get ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and 2 PBS channels. Some of these channels are broadcast out of Yakima and some out of the Tri-Cities. Regular programming remains the same despite where they are broadcasting from. The only difference is with the local news which has NBC or KNDU local news.

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What is the signal quality?

With both Dish Network and DirecTV the signal is 100% digital. Even with the cable company’s digital signal it isn’t true digital. Often the with cable provider’s digital programming only portions are true digital since the signal has to travel on an analog line to the home. It can only be as good as the weakest link.

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Is the signal reliable?

Studies consistently show that satellite TV is more reliable than cable. If the signal is down on one satellite, they can send the signal via another satellite within fractions of a second to fix it. In some cases people have a poor signal due to poor installation. This is one more reason why we have our installers work for us rather than be subcontractors. This way we can make sure the quality of work is up to our company standards.

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Can I block certain programming from my children?

Satellite TV has the most advanced parental controls of any provider or TV. A person can block content by rating (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17), by content (Violence, Language, Nudity, Sexual Content), or block specific channels (HBO, MTV, etc), or a combination of any of these methods.

Some receivers can also be set to not be accessed at certain times of the day such as when kids get home from school and they are supposed to be doing homework. All options can be viewed with a password at the parents convenience.

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How long do I have to sign up for?

Dish Network requires an 18 month commitment that is prorated at $13.33 for every month left on contract for early cancellations. DirecTV requires a 12 month commitment for standard equipment customers (non-DVR or non-HD) and a 24 month commitment for advanced product (DVR or HD). With DirecTV both options have a prorated early cancellation fee of $12.50 for every month left.

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Can I upgrade my programming without any fees or extension on my commitment?

Yes. You can always upgrade with no additional fees or extension. They are always willing to take more money from you.

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Can I downgrade my programming without any fees or extension on my commitment?

Customers are charged a one time $5 fee for downgrading their service. No additional time is added onto your commitment.

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Do I need to subscribe High Definition programming since I have a High Definition TV?

Programming is only as good as the weakest link.

So if you have an HD TV, HD receivers but no HD programming then programming will only be digital. If you have HD programming, HD receivers, but no HD TV, then once again programming will only be viewable in digital quality. Still an excellent picture just not HD.

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Can I take the equipment with me when I go camping?

Many satellite customers take their receivers when they go camping or RVing. Usually they will purchase a second dish and tripod along with some cable and just take a receiver from their house. We frequently sell RV kits to those who don’t wish to rough it while visiting the great outdoors.

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Can I put my account on hold?

A customer can put an account on hold only if they are out of their contract. They charge a $5 for each month on hold and it can be put on hold for up to 6 months.

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How many TV’s does each box (receiver) work on?

DirecTV equipment works one TV for one receiver. Dish Network equipment often allows a people to view two TV’s independently of one another per receiver. The exception to this is with HD. Since HD needs special cables to be viewed with, only one of the two TV’s can be viewed in HD.

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What is a DVR?

It allows a viewer to pause, rewind, and record up to 100 hours of TV. You can even fast forward up to live TV. The name brand DVR is called TiVo. Dish Network and DirecTV have their own models. Be aware that once you get one you’ll never watch TV the same again.

Never miss an episode of any show since you can choose to record all new episodes or just Sunday night shows, etc. If you get a phone call, or someone asks you a question, press pause until your ready to watch TV. Missed some important dialog of a show? Just rewind and listen to it again. Record a baseball game and watch it in 30 minutes. The options are endless.

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What do I need to get High Definition programming?

There are three things needed for HD programming:1) An HD TV, 2) an HD receiver, and 3) an HD programming subscription.

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How many dishes will be mounted?

DirecTV requires one dish for either standard or HD programming. Dish Network requires one dish for standard and HD programming in most areas of the Unites States. Unfortunately since we are in the Northwest and the satellites are over Texas we cannot get a good enough signal strength for HD on one dish and so a second dish is required with Dish Network.

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How big is the dish?

The dishes range in size from 18 inches for standard to an oval slightly larger DirecTV HD dish.

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Will my antenna hook into the box (receiver)?

It depends on the model. Some hook up directly and populate the antenna channels directly onto the program guide and some require a manual switch over.

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Can I get internet over my satellite dish now?

While both Dish Network and DirecTV offer internet, it is only through third parties. Examples of this are with DSL through the phone companies. Often Dish Network and DirecTV will have additional promotions if a customer signs up with satellite through a retailer like ourselves before getting DSL from the phone company. Other options are Clearwire, PUD wireless and HighesNet satellite internet which are all offered through Columbia Basin Satellite & Electric.

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Does bad weather effect the signal?

Very seldom does bad weather effect the satellite signal. If installed properly, the equipment will work like the mailman, in rain, sleet or snow. Studies consistently prove satellite to be more reliable than cable.

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Do high winds effect the signal?

Almost never. If installed properly, the equipment is designed to withstand class 1 and 2 hurricanes. To put it into perspective when we had a windstorm with 70 mile per hour winds we had 3 customers that needed service calls out of several thousand.

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Aren’t Dish Network and DirecTV the same company?

Dish Network and DirecTV are two separate companies. Both started around the same time and occasionally team up to approach the FCC on certain issues regarding the hyperinflation of cable prices, etc. But both are independent and different.

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Who is better Dish Network or DirecTV?

It really depends on what the customer wants. Each have their strengths and weaknesses. Dish Network ends up being more affordable in general while DirecTV offers slightly more sports. The best solution is to consult with one of our office staff via phone, email or in person and we can help you decide for yourself.

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What is High Definition or HD?

High Definition is often defined in the TV world by lines of resolution. A standard picture is usually 480 lines of resolution while HD is at lease 720 lines of resolution and sometimes even 1080 lines. Obviously the higher the resolution, the greater the clarity.

While HD programming is only available in digital quality, one can get digital programming without getting HD. Digital just defines the framework of the method the signal is sent to your house.

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Isn’t HD required to have by 2009?

No. This is a common misunderstanding. All people will be required to have digital programming by 2009. This is being done to free up the airwaves currently used to provide antenna broadcasting and use them for other things such as cell phones and wireless internet. Both Dish Network and DirecTV offer all channels in 100% digital.

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Where should I go to get an HD TV?

We have found the best place to go to get an HD TV is Costco. They can sell them cheaper to the customer than we can buy them as a business at wholesale. In addition, some electronic stores will digress the quality of the picture in the lower cost TV’s in an attempt to up sale customers. Costco is not deceptive like this and along with their excellent return policy they can’t be beat. That’s where we get our TV’s from.

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Should I get a plasma or LCD?

There are benefits to both. Plasma TV’s have proven to have a better picture color, clarity, and contract, but have a stigma of having a shorter life. With advancements in technology plasmas usually are designed to last 10-12 years if the TV is left on for 10 hours a day.

LCD’s are considered more durable and can be placed at multiple angles including upside down, whereas a plasma must be viewed and transported upright. Since most people don’t move their TV very often and based upon price and picture quality the plasma TV is considered better overall to most experts.

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What is the difference between 720 and 1080?

The number of scan lines on a TV will reflect the picture clarity available to the viewer. 720 scan lines in the minimum resolution to be considered HD while 1080 is the higher resolution.

While 720 for a while was what most broadcasters were using, most are going to 1080 with some advancements in video compression technology.

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What does the i or p mean after the numbers (1080i)?

The ‘i’ stands for interlaced which refreshes the screen from top to bottom while the ‘p’ stands for progressive which only refreshes moving objects. Without getting too complicated 720p is roughly equivalent to 1080i.

While progressive generally has a better picture in HD the standard definition picture can appear to be more jagged or pixilated up close. Even though 1080p is highly considered as “true HD” currently no broadcasters actually broadcast in 1080p.

The current industry standard for all broadcasters from ESPN to Discovery Channels, etc. is either 720p or 1080i. Certain video games and some HD DVD and Blu-ray players can display in 1080p with limited abilities.

The current broadcasting standard of 720p/1080i will most likely remain the industry standard for quite some time since the naked eye can’t physically notice any difference between 1080i and 1080p unless it is from a very close distance. As a word of advice, the average home can save a few dollars and buy a 1080i instead of the 1080p and not notice any difference in quality.

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