Over the next few weeks, my wife and I will be moving out into rural Maryland—Frederick County, to be exact—and need to reevaluate our options for high-speed internet, cable tv and phone service. Not exactly the most fun thing to do when you are moving, but considering my life and job are entirely dependent on good telecommunications services, this is a really big decision in my household.
In the past, my wife would only consider Xfinity, as she is a big fan of their voice remote service. I have to say, it does work well and—when compared to Verizon Fios—seems much more accurate and user-friendly. In fact, my parents have Fios so I have spent a lot of time comparing the two service providers.
But times are changing in the Kazianis household. Our home phone is collecting dues and my wife does not watch a lot of TV these days. What she does watch is mostly available via an app (QVC, yikes) or over-the-air broadcast (local news). And as I only watch cable news—part of my job involves being asked to be a guest now and then when North Korea does something naughty—it seemed the time was right to make the switch to a cheaper streaming platform.
But how? What does the average user need to do? How easy is it? Well, this has been something I have been preparing for and I have some answers. Below is my own plan to dump cable tv and move to the land of streaming and becoming a cable cutter. In the coming weeks, once we move into our new home, I will write a companion piece to see if this plan worked out or not. However, I feel pretty confident it will.
Here is what I plan to sign up for:
Internet Provider: Fios ($79.95 per month), no question. They offer a 1 Gigabit connection that is symmetrical—unlike the slow upload speed from Xfinity. And the best part is that where I am moving, Fios is already installed by the prior owner. I can simply have a new wireless router sent to my home from Fios (the router rental is free thanks to a promotion they are running) and plug into the same place the old one is—a simple installation, considering the cable company rarely wants to come and do a service.
From there, the rest looks easy. I did a basic wi-fi survey of my new home and property and I am excited that I can get nearly full internet speed anywhere I stand. That is pretty impressive, and likely due to the fact that my home is surrounded mostly by farmland and cows—meaning no one else’s router is messing with my signal. Where I live now, just outside of Washington, D.C. in a townhouse, there are like thirty other routers all around me—and no amount of tweaking, boosting or extending seems to make my wi-fi move anywhere near advertised speeds.
Main TV Streaming Service to Replace Cable TV: YouTube at $49.95 per month seems like the best option for us. All we want is access to the news networks and local stations if reception through the over-the-air antenna is not good. In addition, we’d like a few basic stations like HGTV, to watch the news and basic sports now and then. The price is good, the content is strong and I cancel anytime I want. Seems like a winner to me.
Additional Supplements: I will sign up for standalone premium cable networks like HBO ($14.99) and Showtime ($10.99). What would life be like without Billions, Homeland, the Sopranos and the Wire?
TV OS Replacements: My main TVs, a 2018 LG OLED and brand new Samsung QLED, will both have Roku players attached because I don’t like either TVs’ OS. But this way, I know I have the best user experience with an excellent selection of apps and free content. My 6-series TCL already has Roku.
Total Monthly Cost: I pay right now $202.00 per month including all taxes and fees for Xfinity that includes all premium channels (HBO, Showtime, Startz, Encore and Cinemax), gigabit internet, a wireless router rental and home phone service that offers unlimited nationwide service.
My new costs: $155.88 per month (no taxes as I am dumping my home phone and that is where most of the taxes and fees come from). Not a bad savings for sure, but keep in mind, I am canceling my home phone and losing some channels. Yet, the convenience of streaming, faster connection with Fios and flexibility in these service choices, makes this all a better fit for my wife and me.
Next Steps: As I move into the home, I will share my insights of how it goes, what challenges or problems I encounter, and if I have a desire to go back to cable tv. More to come.
Harry J. Kazianis is a Senior Director at the Center for the National Interest. His work and ideas have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, USA Today, The Week, The Hill, the American Conservative and many other outlets across the political spectrum. Harry enjoys writing about technology issues and products from a real-world perspective. You can follow him (or yell at him) on Twitter: @Grecianformula.
Image: Creative Commons/Flickr.