Ideas for avoiding cable

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
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catdude
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Post by catdude » Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:46 pm

By the way, are cable companies ever going to offer a la carte pricing (i.e., allow customers to pay for only the channels they watch)? Seems to me I heard awhile back that such a thing was on the horizon, but it just hasn't happened. Does anybody know the story on this?
catdude | | "As much as cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens." (Abraham Lincoln)

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soaring
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Post by soaring » Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:57 pm

johnny wrote:By the way, are cable companies ever going to offer a la carte pricing (i.e., allow customers to pay for only the channels they watch)? Seems to me I heard awhile back that such a thing was on the horizon, but it just hasn't happened. Does anybody know the story on this?
My understanding is the govt hasn't forced the requirement and cable doesn't want to do it. They say it will cost all users more. And I tend to agree.
Desiderata

Gekko
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Post by Gekko » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:07 pm

i'd like to see a law that requires any channel that charges cable companies more than 3X the average channel cost be required to become a stand-alone subscription pay station (like HBO). let those that want to pay for it - pay for it.

for instance, ESPN charges over $3 per cable subscriber whereas most other channels charge a tiny fraction of that. those costs are passed along to every single cable subscriber regardless of whether they watch ESPN or not.

i don't want to pay an extra $3-$4 every month to subsidize ESPN viewers.

if ESPN wants to try to gouge viewers - let us have some choice in the matter.

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/0 ... elevision/

Norris
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Re: Ideas for avoiding cable

Post by Norris » Thu Feb 18, 2010 11:10 pm

paulsiu wrote:Is anyone here anti-cable?
I'm anti-Comcast cable and I'm not alone. It infuriates me that they charge $5. per month for a telephonic modem that can't be purchased. I've just taken delivery of a Magic Jack VOIP device and am seriously considering giving up the hard line phone number I've had for 35-40 years. I feel like these companies hold us hostage just to keep a phone number. I agree with others that we should be able to choose TV stations we want and don't want. I get tired of having to call Comcast every year trying to keep costs in check as they relentlessly raise prices while advertising what good deals they offer. I'll probably purchase Dish or Direct TV just to threaten one against the other to keep the price down. Seems like a crappy way to have to do business.
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. Confucius

JasonP
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Post by JasonP » Thu Feb 18, 2010 11:19 pm

We've been very happy with Netflix and Hulu for a while now.

jasonp99
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Post by jasonp99 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:04 am

Bob's not my name wrote:
soaring wrote:Suppose you were in jest
Nope. No TV. No landline. No paper.

Don't know why anyone would use a landline when you have to have a cell anyway and videochatting is superior for longer, personal calls.
I've still got my landline, even though ATT has jacked it up to $26/mo (including taxes, what a rip!). Mainly I have it because my security system needs it, otherwise I'd have to spend about $200+ on a GSM module and then pay extra in monitoring costs. The other main reason is that our cellphone plan is split between 4 phones (us and my parents) with 450 minutes (though we get rollover). So I'm not sure if we got rid of the landline that 450 minutes would get us through the month.

The choice may get easier if I can ditch my Broadview alarm, install a new alarm system and get Watchpoint to monitor it (far cheaper than Broadview).

jasonp99
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Post by jasonp99 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:12 am

LadyGeek wrote:
I've got one mean OTA (Over The Air) system (16 element UHF Channelmaster Yagi and preamp, etc.). (caklim00 - Before the HD transition, all the ATSC broadcast stations were on UHF. After the transition, Philly local WPVI-HD (6) and WHYY-HD (12) reverted back to their VHF channels. I'll have to rethink my antenna / preamp situation in the Spring.)
I've got a Winegard HD7694P UHF/VHF (7-69). It gets the one VHF channel here in Austin very good, though I'm only 9 miles away from the towers (an the antenna is in my attic).

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Hat
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DB2 antenna

Post by Hat » Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:40 am

I have the DB2 antenna (UHF), but also get good reception of VHF channels 7 -13.

mithrandir
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Re: Ideas for avoiding cable

Post by mithrandir » Sat Feb 20, 2010 8:26 am

Norris wrote:
paulsiu wrote:Is anyone here anti-cable?
I'm anti-Comcast cable and I'm not alone. It infuriates me that they charge $5. per month for a telephonic modem that can't be purchased.
Yes. The rental charge used to be $3 but they increased it to $5 in Oct/Nov 2009. This infuriated me because the modem they had me rent was already 7 years old (and paid for many times over) and only DOCSIS 1.1 compatible. So while my service was advertised as 15/2 I never saw anything better than 5mbps down.

If I am paying a rental fee I expect to have the equipment upgraded at regular intervals. One may ask "well, why didn't you call them up and ask for a replacement?" I shouldn't have to do that. Comcast obviously knows what kind of rental equipment each customer has and if a customer has equipment that is out of date, it should be upgraded. It's not like Comcast can't afford it when customers were paying $36 and are now paying $60 a year for a cable modem rental.

Taking action, I bought my own modem (Motorola SB5101) for $45 and sent my rental back to Comcast. You don't need to rent equipment from them. You do have to call tech support to activate your modem - and I could sense they were a little miffed that they weren't going to get the $5 a month gravy train from me - but everything works great and I get downstream speeds in the 12-15mbps range now.

mithrandir
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Re: Ideas for avoiding cable

Post by mithrandir » Sat Feb 20, 2010 8:48 am

petrico wrote:The Netflix limited plan (2/mo.) seems too limited for $5/mo, and the cheapest unlimited plan, at $9/mo., has seemed too expensive.
$9 is too expensive? IMO, that's taking frugality too far.

I'm a huge fan of Netflix. Compared to the alternatives, Netflix offers a lot for the money. I am on the 3-discs-out-at-a-time with Blu-Ray upgrade plan ($22.25/month) and believe it's money well spent. The service is so convenient, the selection so broad and the speed of disc replacements is so fast, I wish other companies would look at Netflix and operate like them.

It just boils my blood that Comcast wants $55-60 a month for "standard" digital cable with no premiums and no cable-channel HD. I have their derogatorily-named "Limited Basic" service and I tolerate it because I get all the local channels in HD with no converter box (clearQAM).

I hate digital boxes with their wall-warts and space needs; I like the "old days" when you just connected the coax from the wall right into the TV (which is what I do with "Limited Basic").

jasonp99
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Re: Ideas for avoiding cable

Post by jasonp99 » Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:59 am

mithrandir wrote:
I hate digital boxes with their wall-warts and space needs; I like the "old days" when you just connected the coax from the wall right into the TV (which is what I do with "Limited Basic").
I've got 3 Zenith digital converter boxes for our 3 TV's, they plug directly in, no external transformer. And I wired my attic antenna into the house coax so I don't need any rabbit ears inside the house, this system works pretty well for us. If I had an HD TV I would get HD from the antenna but I'm waiting for our perfectly good 27" Sony to finally bite the dust (16 yrs old now) before I splurge on an HD TV. I wonder if LCD TV's will last as long at the CRT ones?

TheEternalVortex
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Re: Ideas for avoiding cable

Post by TheEternalVortex » Sat Feb 20, 2010 10:34 am

mithrandir wrote: I hate digital boxes with their wall-warts and space needs; I like the "old days" when you just connected the coax from the wall right into the TV (which is what I do with "Limited Basic").
You can still do that with any cable service; you just miss out on some of the features. Another option is to get a HTPC to replace all your devices with one.

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jpsfranks
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Re: Ideas for avoiding cable

Post by jpsfranks » Sat Feb 20, 2010 11:22 am

TheEternalVortex wrote:
mithrandir wrote: I hate digital boxes with their wall-warts and space needs; I like the "old days" when you just connected the coax from the wall right into the TV (which is what I do with "Limited Basic").
You can still do that with any cable service; you just miss out on some of the features. Another option is to get a HTPC to replace all your devices with one.
I'm on limited basic as well. Switched to it after Comcast eliminated most cable channels from the analog signal in their own digital transition. I plug the coax straight into an analog tuner on an HTPC for the channels I still do get, and for everything else I get by fine between Netflix, Hulu, and the library.

Norris
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Re: Ideas for avoiding cable

Post by Norris » Sat Feb 20, 2010 11:43 am

mithrandir wrote:
Norris wrote:
paulsiu wrote:Is anyone here anti-cable?
I'm anti-Comcast cable and I'm not alone. It infuriates me that they charge $5. per month for a telephonic modem that can't be purchased.
Yes. The rental charge used to be $3 but they increased it to $5 in Oct/Nov 2009. This infuriated me because the modem they had me rent was already 7 years old (and paid for many times over) and only DOCSIS 1.1 compatible. So while my service was advertised as 15/2 I never saw anything better than 5mbps down.

If I am paying a rental fee I expect to have the equipment upgraded at regular intervals. One may ask "well, why didn't you call them up and ask for a replacement?" I shouldn't have to do that. Comcast obviously knows what kind of rental equipment each customer has and if a customer has equipment that is out of date, it should be upgraded. It's not like Comcast can't afford it when customers were paying $36 and are now paying $60 a year for a cable modem rental.

Taking action, I bought my own modem (Motorola SB5101) for $45 and sent my rental back to Comcast. You don't need to rent equipment from them. You do have to call tech support to activate your modem - and I could sense they were a little miffed that they weren't going to get the $5 a month gravy train from me - but everything works great and I get downstream speeds in the 12-15mbps range now.
Is the SB5101 a telephonic modem? The reason I ask is Best Buy geek said they didn't have a modem to replace Comcast's.
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. Confucius

Norris
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Post by Norris » Sat Feb 20, 2010 12:09 pm

jasonp99 wrote:
LadyGeek wrote:
I've got one mean OTA (Over The Air) system (16 element UHF Channelmaster Yagi and preamp, etc.). (caklim00 - Before the HD transition, all the ATSC broadcast stations were on UHF. After the transition, Philly local WPVI-HD (6) and WHYY-HD (12) reverted back to their VHF channels. I'll have to rethink my antenna / preamp situation in the Spring.)
I've got a Winegard HD7694P UHF/VHF (7-69). It gets the one VHF channel here in Austin very good, though I'm only 9 miles away from the towers (an the antenna is in my attic).


For $349 these guys will provide us with the antenna we need. We are about 75 miles from major broadcast facilities.

http://www.zipinstallation.com/Antennas ... IiCjAv_xhH

Anyone had experience with this company/offer? I'm exploring the options. Also, I've heard there are no stupid questions so I have to ask: What is HTPC?
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. Confucius

mithrandir
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Re: Ideas for avoiding cable

Post by mithrandir » Sat Feb 20, 2010 10:17 pm

Norris wrote: Is the SB5101 a telephonic modem? The reason I ask is Best Buy geek said they didn't have a modem to replace Comcast's.
No, the SB5101 is just a cable modem, no built-in VOIP.

BB is probably right, the Comcast equipment for their phone service (which I presume you have) may be specialized.

'Ponine
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Post by 'Ponine » Sat Feb 20, 2010 11:03 pm

We switched to a cable modem this year and have free limited basic cable for a year under a promotion related to the HD TV switch. I have never had cable before. We also do not have a landline or hardcopy paper.

We use the 1-out per time unlimited Netflix and have a Roku player so we can watch the netflix "watch instantly" shows as streaming videos on our TV it's $8.99 a month and more than sufficient. We will likely cancel the limited basic once the year is up.

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Ducks
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Post by Ducks » Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:30 am

We have cheapie cable ($13/month) and Netflix. We use our XBox 360 as an extender, and use my computer as DVR. Works awesome.

Will work even more awesome when we get one of these jobbies:

http://www.cetoncorp.com/products.php
Getting our Ducks in a row since 2008.

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Gindacu
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Post by Gindacu » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:42 am

We are also sans cable, though we do fork out $70/month for very, very fast cable internet from Comcast. We used to have Verizon FIOS until we moved and Comcast is the only option in our new area. DH can't live without 30mb download speeds, which may seem excessive, however when you can download a 1.5gB movie from iTunes in 25 minutes, it's worth it.

Our TV experience centers around high speed internet and a Mac Mini connected to the TV in our living room. There are only a couple TV shows we enjoy and watching them live isn't important. We use Hulu and Netflix for streaming TV shows and movies and also subscribe to NBA League Pass Broadband to watch our beloved Pistons. We get Netflix DVDs (1-out at a time/unlimited monthly) to watch old TV series' (Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men) and the occasional movie. iTunes fills in the gap for on demand new movies.

We just added a EyeTV One HD tuner to the Mac Mini with an indoor UHF/VHF antenna for being able to watch OTA HD TV. This is great for sports (Olympics, Sunday NFL, Superbowl, etc). You can stream from other computers on your local wifi network and even your iPhone at no additional cost. There's also the ability to record shows. Paid only $80 for it and another $90 for the antenna. EyeTV One is made by Elgato (can't include the link since this my first post).

To second another poster's comment about Comcast cable modems, don't pay the $5 monthly fee. Buy your own and you'll save money. The Comcast site lists compatible modems. I bought a Motorola SB6120 SURFboard® DOCSIS® 3.0 Cable Modem for $85 on Amazon. DOCSIS 3.0 is the latest cable modem technology and it is blazing fast. The Comcast installer guy just has to enter the MAC address into their system and you're all set.

Norris
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Post by Norris » Fri Feb 26, 2010 9:07 am

Gindacu wrote:To second another poster's comment about Comcast cable modems, don't pay the $5 monthly fee. Buy your own and you'll save money. The Comcast site lists compatible modems. I bought a Motorola SB6120 SURFboard® DOCSIS® 3.0 Cable Modem for $85 on Amazon. DOCSIS 3.0 is the latest cable modem technology and it is blazing fast. The Comcast installer guy just has to enter the MAC address into their system and you're all set.
Welcome to the Bogleheads! I assume your telephone is not thru this modem? I'd like to save the $5 monthly fee but I have phone service thru Comcast and it sounds like I have no choice short of dropping the service.
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. Confucius

Gekko
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Post by Gekko » Fri Feb 26, 2010 9:27 am

Norris wrote:
Gindacu wrote:To second another poster's comment about Comcast cable modems, don't pay the $5 monthly fee. Buy your own and you'll save money. The Comcast site lists compatible modems. I bought a Motorola SB6120 SURFboard® DOCSIS® 3.0 Cable Modem for $85 on Amazon. DOCSIS 3.0 is the latest cable modem technology and it is blazing fast. The Comcast installer guy just has to enter the MAC address into their system and you're all set.
Welcome to the Bogleheads! I assume your telephone is not thru this modem? I'd like to save the $5 monthly fee but I have phone service thru Comcast and it sounds like I have no choice short of dropping the service.
call Comcast and ask if you can buy their modem. i bought mine years ago for $40. (no telephone).

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dratkinson
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Post by dratkinson » Fri Feb 26, 2010 10:28 am

My neighbor has recently purchase all of their cable, phone, internet services from Comcast and I've been trying to talk them into cheaper options.

The above discussion about Magic Jack (and OOMA in previous topics) I have passed on to them. After the introductory period, the Comcast rep said their phone service would be $25 per month, so $300 per year.

Also the discussion about buying their cable modem from Comcast and saving the $5 per month rental fee, so $60 per year.

So it looks like they could save about $360 per year just by following the ideas listed here.

I think they could save more by scaling back on the Comcast TV premium packages they buy. Wish they could buy basic cable and then select their favorite cables choices a la carte. But from what I've learned here, that may not be possible.

At least, I can give them your ideas for saving money on Comcast and maybe they can parley that into some discounts after the introductory period.

/r
David

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Gindacu
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Post by Gindacu » Sun Feb 28, 2010 11:10 pm

Norris wrote:
Gindacu wrote:To second another poster's comment about Comcast cable modems, don't pay the $5 monthly fee. Buy your own and you'll save money. The Comcast site lists compatible modems. I bought a Motorola SB6120 SURFboard® DOCSIS® 3.0 Cable Modem for $85 on Amazon. DOCSIS 3.0 is the latest cable modem technology and it is blazing fast. The Comcast installer guy just has to enter the MAC address into their system and you're all set.
Welcome to the Bogleheads! I assume your telephone is not thru this modem? I'd like to save the $5 monthly fee but I have phone service thru Comcast and it sounds like I have no choice short of dropping the service.
You are correct, we do not have comcast phone service. We have used vonage for the past 4 years. We have the $17/month for 500 min plan. There is an unlimited plan for $24 a month if you need more minutes. Either way, long distance is included as is the service to have your voicemails sent to you in an email.

To be honest though, why would renting vs supplying your own modem matter in order to get phone service through comcast? I would think as long as the modem you buy has a phone jack, you'd be all set. When I signed up, they tried to get me to add a phone package even though I told them I was supplying my own modem. We stuck with vonage because it was much cheaper in comparison to the comcast phone plans.

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