In Toronto we have a couple of choices. Price-wise almost everyone is identical. Customer service –wise, judging just form personal experience, no one is great but I would rate Star Choice as the best, then Rogers and Bell would be at the bottom of the chain.
That being said, what you should consider next is whether to go satellite or cable.
The key advantage with cable is that its always on regardless of weather conditions. Satellite will go out of service when there are major thunder storms or snow storms. So cable wins the war on reliability.
When considering picture quality, there is no huge difference. Satellite signals are not compress so their signal will look a tiny bit better to a person sitting in front of the screen with a magnifying glass.
Lets proceed to the pros and cons of each available option.
Rogers is pretty much the only choice for cable. Their choices for channels are amongst the best. They do not require a contract in most cases and their customer service is not bad. Another nice feature that almost all issues you would have with their set top box can be resolved by simply resetting the box.
Bell is the popular choice for satellite. They are sometimes the only option for people living further out of town. Channel choices are almost identical to Rogers. The drawback with Bell is that they require you to sign a contract if you want free installation or subsidized pricing for their units. The contract is not that great a deal because if you are going to invest in a satellite dish and a unit, chances are you are going to be with them for a few years anyway.
Star Choice is the alternative to Bell. They do not require any signing of contracts and their customer service is rated best. Their downfall is their channel offerings. The number of HD channels offered by Star Choice is no where near the number offered by Rogers and Bell.
Free HD is also another option. It is offered if you live close to the CN Tower. Basically you can’t go wrong with free channels. You would receive about 8 (depending on your luck, you may receive a lot more) HD channels in great quality. Again you would need to be within 60 Km of the tower and you will need to purchase a HD antenna which ranges from 50 to 150 dollars. The drawback is obvious; 8 channels compared to the hundreds offered by the competition.