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Computer - featuredWith two separate announcements last week, Time Warner Cable likely raised the cost of my Internet another $60 a year.

The rates for customers will go up an average of $3 a month. In addition, the cost to rent a modem went from $3.95 to $5.99 a month. Time Warner only last year started charging the modem fee.

Many of us will now buy our own modems.

What are the choices if you want to jump ship?

If you do not want to bundle with television or phone service, there’s only one other major choice: Frontier. It offers home Internet service over its landline phone network. Speeds can be slower, though there are technologies that are boosting copper speeds.

Dish and DirecTV require a television subscription. Earthlink is an option, but a quick check of prices don’t indicate huge savings over Frontier or Time Warner. The dish services and Earthlink use the lines from your local phone and cable companies.

Greenlight Networks is a local startup, but its geography is very limited. Also, it’s plans start at $50 a month, more than I pay now.

AT&T and Verizon offer wireless Internet options, but they are expensive, often have data caps, and slower speeds. (People with smartphones pay for the Internet twice – for mobile and home use. I’ve long wanted one Internet bill.)

I pay $37.99 (pre-rate hike) a month for Time Warner’s “lite” Internet service. I do not have cable television. I’d like to keep my bill under $50 a month, but I’m not sure how much longer that will be feasible. Sure, I can switch providers to find better deals, but that’s a pain in the neck. Every time a promotional period runs out, I’d have to go back to market.

As more of us cut the cord, the giant telecoms and cable providers will find a way to make up that cash. That’s why our broadband bills will keep going up.

Some wonder if the Internet should be regulated as a utility. Think about this fact: Time Warner, which raked in more than $21 billion last year, has 700,000 subscribers in the Buffalo and Rochester markets. I’m not sure how many of those are businesses. But the Western New York market has 875,000 households. That’s an astounding market penetration. Does this mean Time Warner is the best choice or the least worse option?

 

Links of the Day:

 

– A Buffalo News columnist calls for a metro school district. Donn Esmonde points out reform models don’t take into account the importance of economic diversity.

– Eighty-six percent of Pittsford graduates go to four-year colleges. In poorer districts, fewer than half do.

– Forty percent of the University of Rochester’s Simon School students are from other countries.

– Ankle monitors give a false sense of security. They simply produce too much data for law enforcement to reasonably check.

– Important read on why the government crackdown on leaks threatens the public’s right to know. Confidential sources are crucial to journalism.

More low-wage workers are fighting back.

 

I cut the cord today but this may or may not end up making a lot of financial sense.

What I watch on television:

  • The Good Wife
  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • Downton Abbey
  • News
  • True Blood
  • Girls

Cable bill:

  • $49.99 Internet
  • $9.50 Basic TV
  • $12.95 DVR
  • $6.82 Equipment charges
  • $1.80 taxes, fees, surcharges
  • Total: $81.06

I was paying $31.07 a month, or $372.84 a year, for a basic television package I rarely watched.  Half of my bill was for a DVR service I rarely used. Time Warner would not let me cancel DVR unless I turned in my digital cable box. But if I turned in my digital cable box, I would not longer get high-definition broadcast channels. You can see where this is going…

With No Cable, How Would I Watch My Shows?

I was already downloading shows onto my iPad when NFL games pushed back The Good Wife and the DVR didn’t record.

Depending on when you choose to download to your viewing device, a season can cost anywhere from $20 to $60. Some episodes are available on network websites for free. I’m saving money and have the added convenience of mobility by watching shows on my iPad.

As for HBO, it would have cost me $13 a month in a cable package. Actually, it would have cost me more, considering the added costs of having cable. Unfortunately, HBO does not offer standalone Internet subscriptions, though it acknowledges the demand. In the meantime, I’m sharing an HBO Go password with a family member, which HBO sort of allows right now.

I also plan on getting a digital antennae for my television, which cannot get over-the-air channels right now. That will satisfy any need I have to watch TV news, especially if there’s breaking news. I get the vast majority of my news, however, online.

The Trip to Time Warner

There were 22 people ahead of me in line when I sat down in the waiting room, toting my cable box and remote in a Wegmans bag. Ironically, the waiting room of a broadband company doesn’t have free Wi-Fi, forcing me to use my phone’s AT&T connection as a hotspot.

The line moved fast and the cashier was very pleasant. She repeatedly asked me if she could make a deal to get me to keep my TV service. Even after I said no, an equally-pleasant manager came over and offered to keep my current package at $73 a month, taxes and fees included, for the next two years.

I was paying $81.07, so that didn’t strike me as such a great deal. But, they pointed out my Internet costs without the TV service would climb to $54.99 a month. Under the $73 scenario, TV would cost me $18 a month versus $31.07.

Determined to make all of this make sense, I opted for slower $37.99 a month Internet, which I believe is about the same speed as my 4G phone. If I can’t stand it, I’ll switch back to fast Internet or call up Frontier.

Lessons:

Essentially, I cut my bill in half, but I’m giving up all TV and getting slower Internet. Did I really win? Or did I cut off my nose to spite my face?

I was driven by a desire to PAY FOR ONLY WHAT I CONSUME. I don’t watch much TV and I resented paying $31.07 a month for something I rarely use.

I was also driven by my resentment at paying two bills for the Internet – through Time Warner and AT&T. Mobility and speed are important, but companies haven’t found the right product to fill both of these needs at the right price.

In summary, cord cutting is great in theory. In practice, it may not be super practical for everyone.

Update: This ended up being a great decision for me. I’ve never looked back. I enjoy my low broadband bill every month and I’ve never noticed a difference in Internet speed. – RB 2/13/14

Links of the Day:

– So you want to cut the cord, do you? You’re looking forward to watching your videos online, streaming movies on Netflix or hooking up your Apple TV. You’re so excited about lower monthly bills and not having to pay the cable monster for excess channels you don’t watch.

If it sounds too good to be true…

A New York Times article makes it clear that you will either pay big bucks for cable or you will pay big bucks for broadband. Tiered pricing that charges you based on data consumption is on the way. The business model could stifle cord-cutting and innovation:

The strategy, called usage-based billing, is advantageous for the companies that control the digital pipelines. But it may be detrimental for customers who are watching more and more video on the Web every month, as well as companies like Netflix that distribute it. Some fear that as customers become more aware of how much broadband they’re using each month, they’ll start to use less of it, and in that way, protect traditional forms of entertainment distribution and discourage new Internet services.

When Time Warner proposed tiered pricing in Rochester, Senator Chuck Schumer came to town and won a reprieve for consumers. But times have rapidly changed in just the past few years and the company is implementing the model elsewhere. How long can Rochester be exempt?

As more people cut the TV cord, cable companies will need to make up that revenue. They’ll tie us to the new cord – broadband.

– Rochester’s deputy mayor will have to rent an apartment in the city. He’s running up against the year deadline to comply with the residency requirement as he tries to unload his $499,000 house in Perinton.

– Buffalo’s interim school superintendent – not chosen for the permanent job – realized she can’t go back to being not-the-superintendent.

– This isn’t very comforting. Common drugs used to treat acid reflux may cause other problems.

These are truly stunning and scary pictures of wildfires in Colorado.