- Entertainment and Media
Why I Cut the Cord
Cost Reducing Measures for Home Entertainment and Communication
This month I cut the cord on both cable TV and telephone, instead getting these services through my internet connection. My provider had started raising rates and it was going to cost me about $500 more per year to continue with my bundled package compared to the previous years.
I took stock of what I was getting for that extra $500 dollars and compared it to what TV and telephone alternatives were available, plus the hassle of switching providers, and found that the yearly savings was well worth the time and energy to cut the cord on cable TV and phone.
Cutting the Cord on Cable
Terminating my cable was probably the easiest choice I could make. There are many video streaming options available and MOST shows are easily found and played from one of the many streaming services. Simply ending cable saved me about $30 dollars per month.
This was fairly easy to do, and just required a bit of time on my part. I had to call and talk to a representative of the company. Be polite, but firm. They WILL try to upsell you. You will have to return your DVR or receiver.
I received a box in the mail with instruction on how to complete this step, and it was very easy. You basically unflatten a box, put in a carboard insert to keep the devices from moving around, place a shipping sticker, and bring it to the post office or UPS store (in my case). Shipping was free.
Cable TV Alternatives
Netflix is the most popular streaming service available. At 7.99 per month, it is a bargain compared to $30 for cable service. Best of all, there are no commercials. Closed Captioning is available for most shows.
A lot of people don't realize that TV is still broadcast over the air, and that you do not need a special antenna to receive it. ANY antenna will work. Your TV does need to have a digital receiver, and most flat screen televisions built already do! If you insist on using an older TV, you can purchase a terrestrial receiver. This will get your channels like ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, the WB, and Fox. Frequently, there will be local channels broadcast as well, and even some like Sprout (for kids). Generally, there will be another feed for every channel (for example 10.1, 10.2, 10.3) I frequently find older classic television being played there, like the original Hawaii 50, the Incredible Hulk (with Lou Ferrigno), Emergency! and more!
Youtube is also free to watch, with minimal advertising.
Cutting the Cord on Telephone
Cutting the cord on phone service sounds a little trickier. A lot of people may have your "home number" and make switching difficult. The good news is that you may not have to switch numbers at all.
First, do not cancel your telephone service in preparation for changing providers. You will LOSE your phone number. Instead, your new provider may be able to swap your number (usually for a fee). This was super easy to do for me, and was handled mainly by the new company I was swapping to.
Afterwards, my previous provider wanted confirmation that I wanted to continue my other services, and required a quick call, but it was also very easy to do.
I purchased a MagicJack Plus for $50 and spent the extra $20 to move my home number from my telephone company (called "porting"). Included in the price was 6 months of service.
The original MagicJack had some quality issues, but the one that I am using now sounds clear, and I get no delay in speech. The only complaint I got was that I sounded a bit quieter to the listener on the other end.
I am still using my previous "home" phone and am very happy with how it is going so far.
If you are willing to change your number, you might like trying Google Voice, which is free. As of now, you CANNOT port your HOME number to Google Voice, but might be able to use your cellular number.
Newer Android cellular phones allow for calls over wifi This means you will be able to place calls over your wifi from your cellular phone, saving your minutes if you don't have an unlimited plan. Certain home hand-sets can connect to your mobile via bluetooth.
Disadvantages of Cutting the Cord
So, some disadvantages. The main bad thing about ending cable is that you will likely not be able to easily watch anything "LIVE." The most obvious thing here is sports games like football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. You may also need to do some searching online for a news feed, but that should not be too difficult.
Finally, there is usually a few days delay for shows that have just premiered. You wouldn't be able to come in to work and chat about the finale of your favorite show with everyone, because you won't have seen it yet.
I am very happy that I have made these changes. There is a bit of an adjustment period, and some initial cash required, but the long-term savings and other benefits are well worth the minor inconveniences.
I'd definitely do it again.
Right now I am trying Hulu Plus. Try it free for two weeks!