Cable companies vary GREATLY from one city to the next, even from one neighborhood to the next.
My mother-in-law lives in a privately owned senior citizens "village". While she was on vacation, the superintendent allowed the cable guy to enter her house, replace all her cable receivers and generally leave a mess (furniture not put back in place, etc.
When she returned nothing worked, not TV, no internet - nothing. After calling the cable company 3 or 4 days in a row, finally a repair man came out and took one look and said, they used all the wrong equipment - replaced everything again including the wiring, finally got TV and internet back up.
When the weather warmed up her A/C would not cool the house, so she had the superintendent call an A/C repair man who checked out the unit, it was working fine, but he found the cable guy had fallen on the A/C ductwork in the attic and half of her cold air was keeping the attic nice and cool, so they had to have a sheet metal man in to repair that damage.
As for DirecTV and Dish Network, some say DirecTV has a slightly better HD picture, but they also say Dish has better equipment. We have had Dish for 13 years and only lose signal during heavy rains, and even then it sis only for maybe 15 minutes at a time max.
Dish is cheaper than DirecTV and channel offerings are very similar.
The new Dish Hopper 3 with 16 tuners sounds tempting, but we already have 2 Hopper 2's and 1 Joey, so the Mrs and I can each have our own receiver plus one in the guest room.
My mother in law has had more down time with cable because it seems to take them so long to get anything fixed - several days.