Television in the Mountains

If you have lived in the mountains for more than 6 hours, you’ve probably already learned that over the air television reception is nearly non-existent.

There are ways to get television over the air, but you need to live in a very high area with a completely clear view to the East. My home’s ridgetop location is ideal for this so I do have an antenna system, but this is not going to work for most homes. My system consists of a high gain antenna from MassDrop along with a Winegard signal amplifier.

Even with this excellent system and my ideal location, I still have frequent signal interruptions due to weather. For this reason, I rarely use my antenna and am thinking about removing it from the roof.

The local cable company, USA Communications, does offer traditional cable service along with cable modem. I don’t believe their rates or channel lineup are competitive with reality, so I chose not to use their cable TV service, although I do use their cable modem Internet.

In the past, I had great success with Dish Network, and I subscribed to their low-cost Family Plan, also known at the Welcome Pack. It’s a hidden plan that doesn’t show up in their ordering options but is available if you call and ask. The family plan is the way to go if you don’t need gobs of channels.

Over time though I simply lost interest in any cable or satellite TV package and decided to try streaming over my USA Communications Internet connection instead. I cancelled my Dish service and haven’t looked back. If you have high-speed Internet at your home, digital streaming should be the only method of receiving TV that you invest your time and money into. It’s just that much better. There is a service called LoCast that provides many of the local Denver channels over the Internet, and there is a free channel service called PlutoTV that is wonderful. There are many streaming services such as Tubi that have free movies.

Note about satellite installation: The installers that satellite companies send up here from the city tend to be very ignorant of the conditions here, and they just want to do the fastest install possible. That is what happened to me. The installer didn’t want to take the precautions I mentioned to him, he knew the ‘fastest’ way to install, so he did it that way, running cables all over the outside of the house (he also drilled through one of my live electrical outlets, in a shower of sparks). By not thinking about the result of these cables everywhere, he installed the cables where ice buildup ripped them apart after only a few months. Since modern satellite systems send voltage through the cable to the dish, it shorted out my satellite receiver and ruined it. I had to replace the receiver and completely re-wire the system myself, running the cables in the crawlspace where they should have been in the first place. Don’t let this happen to you! Keep after your installer to make sure he is not doing something ignorant.