Cut the cord

One Cable Cord Cutting Quest

Cut the cord

The number of pay-TV defectors is steadily rising. I had a mid-range priced subscription with my cable company Comcast.  I have been thinking about cutting the cord to save money.  I have Amazon Prime and Netflix, but can I live without the cable shows I watch regularly?

About 6.5 percent of households nationwide have cut the cord, up slightly from 4.5 percent in 2010, according to research by Experian Marketing Services. Most “cord cutters” do still deal with some actual cords. Nearly one-fifth of Americans who have working Netflix or Hulu Plus accounts don’t subscribe to a cable or satellite TV service. But watching current shows, award shows, and sports can be difficult.

I called the cable company and threatened to leave. I was connected with their retention department and they “found” a promotional offer for me, saying they had reduced my monthly bill by $40 a month.  But after I got the bill the savings were really about $15 monthly.  Extra fees for rental of set top boxes, cable modem, taxes and the bundled HBO were to blame.

So I called the cable company again after discovering that Comcast had created a new product called “Internet Plus”.  It’s the same high speed Internet (50 mbps) I was used to, along with a select few local and other channels.  An article in the Houston Chronicle Online states that this package was created to retain people seeking to sever the cord.  The package is actually less than Internet by itself and they throw in HBO, which is a nice bonus. “Internet Plus” is $29.95 monthly for a year for new customers then goes to the standard rate of $49.95 monthly.  Existing customers can get it for the $49.95 a month price. Compare that to $69 monthly for the same speed Internet by itself, without HBO or any TV. Comcast even offers a product called “Blast Plus” – even faster Internet with a few more popular cable channels for about $20 more a month.

Then I started thinking that instead of renting, I could I own my own modem and set top box (the box that actually tunes in the channels with the remote) and save even more. I found a better cable modem than the one Comcast provided with a built in gigabit Ethernet router, 2 speeds of WIFI, and supporting up to 380 Mbps speed.  It adheres to new DOCSIS 3.0 standards and works with my cable company.  It was a Netgear N600 cable modem router (C3700) purchased from Amazon.  I chose Amazon because as a prime Amazon customer I got free shipping and a good price. I will pay for the cable modem vs rental in a year. There are cheaper compatible modems but they don’t adhere to the latest standards or offer the performance.  Please note that your speed will still be limited by the Internet product you select.

Then I began to look for a set top box.  I selected a TiVo Roamio for one room and a TiVo mini for a second room. This requires a $13 a month subscription for service with a contract.  TiVo is considered by reviewers to be the best choice but they offer a poor pricing model for cord cutters who don’t want a subscription.  Alternatively, they offer a lifetime subscription but it’s about $400 with a coupon – wow! TiVo offers a 30 day money back guarantee.  I also got this hardware from Amazon. I will eventually pay less by buying the set top box, but it will take a couple of years.

I will receive my hardware this week and will report my findings in a follow up article.

So have you cut the cord? I would love to hear your experience.