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The Wall Street Journal has a delightful column about breaking up with cable. Cutting the cord. Going Internet-only. Excerpt:

I’ve changed over the years. I’m hardly at home. And when I am, it’s not live television I’m watching. It’s stuff that’s been queued up on my DVR for weeks. But mostly, when I’m on my couch with a remote in my hand, I’ve been…streaming.

I’m quitting you, cable.

This will go easier if we can just admit it: We’re not right for each other anymore.

I took a big step toward cutting the cord by subscribing to only basic cable plus HBO. (I’m thrilled HBO GO is arriving for Time Warner customers – one less reason to DVR.)

I’m starting to wonder, however, if the concept of cord-cutting is a false choice. In order to stream all this great content, you need the Internet, right? You need pretty fast and reliable Internet. Broadband costs anywhere from $30-$60 a month, depending on promotions.

You might be able to lop off $50-$100 from your monthly bill by cutting cable TV, but you can’t ditch the Internet. Time Warner and other cable companies know it, which is why they’re positioning themselves as broadband companies that do TV on the side. Kind of like how Netflix wants to stream and do DVDs on the side.

Complicating matters is the fact the Internet is meant to be mobile. My dream is to have one low-cost Wi-Fi bill for my phone and home. Right now, I pay about $50 for a data-capped phone plan that includes tethering and $45 to Time Warner for home broadband. That’s $105 a month, before taxes, on Internet. So much for reducing my TV bill. (Mi-Fi’s begin to address this, but they are still on somewhat slower over-the-air networks and the cost of entry can be high.)

Consumers will ultimately have more choice and pricing tiers as Internet TV gains a larger foothold. But we’ll always need broadband and I’m convinced we’re replacing one bill with another.

9 Responses to Can You Really “Cut the Cord?”

  1. When we finally do get around to upgrading to HDTV, we’re getting rid of our basic cable package and going over air. With, what … 10-12 channels available over-air in this market there is really no value to basic cable for us anymore.

    With Apple TV we could stream whatever we’re watching on Netflix, or elsewhere on the web, to our HDTV. With a 3G enabled iPad you could be totally wireless and only pay about $15/mo. for the data connection.

    It’s not optimal, but doable. I have to believe that in the coming years mobile internet connections will continue to improve, making “cutting the cord” a real option soon.

    • January 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm Rachel responds:

      I live in a basement, so for me to get over-the-air, I have to have someone rig it up for me…haven’t gotten around to it.

  2. cable started out as paid TV.

    Then it became paid advertising TV.

    Then they invented Better TV at a higher price.

    Now, it’s paid advertising TV with miniscule repetitive content, and mediocre Better TV bundled with other info media services to hide the fact of the limited quality of the Better TV up-charges.

    That guy going from room to room stopping and starting the action on an action flick is an idiot.

  3. We ditched cable three years ago and haven’t missed it. It significantly changes what you watch, but, it was a change for the better.

  4. ads on popular cable shows, especially those lame content-starved reality TV shows, are programmed at the FCC maximum limitsd of around 18 min/hr, if you can believe that.

    I bet it’s more like 22-24 min/hr, including future promotions for the current show or for shows owned and produced by the channel or cable operator.

    It’s rather insulting to pay for ads, dontcha think?

  5. I cut the cable cord two years ago and have not looked back. Currently, my internet connection is via Frontier’s DSL (approximately $30.00 per month). With a good indoor antenna, I am receiving 16 over-the-air channels at zero cost. For movies, I pay $9.00 per month for Neflix.

  6. We cut the cord 3 years ago. We bought a DTV Over The Air DVR for 250 bucks and an external antena (small about the size of a kindle fire) and havent paid a cable bills since. We pay 35 a month for internet from time warner and have NEVER had an issue… we pull about 18 channels on the antenna… we use redbox for movies, we use hulu and a rokubox for free content…. the only thing I REALLY miss is watching the Sabres (online sites host the games) but guess what.. time warner and dish network dont have the games anyway…

  7. January 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm Fitzherbert responds:

    Cable co marginal cost is a few bucks a month in city center. Classical economics would predict that competition would price fees to that $5 figure but for barrier to competition. Namely a cable company (Comcast) gets municipal ok for using city right of way (right of way they don’t own).

    Nonetheless, the Supreme Court in 2005 or 2006 said that Cable Companies need not allow other ISPs onto their wires to compete. The case is called National Cable v. Brand X.

  8. February 23, 2012 at 9:47 am Luann Waden responds:

    I cut cable about 5 months ago. After trying 4 antennas to get some free TV not working too well I made one more trip to Radio Shack to see if maybe there was something else i could get to boost the reception.
    By not working well I mean that I get CBS, NBC, the CW and 4 PBS stations all out of Syracuse NY, while I live 40 miles south of Rochester, and only when the weather is clear.
    Well the young woman at the store put our address in to her computer and it said it was not possible to get TV w/o cable at our address. No clear shot for UHF signals at our address and we live on a main highway!
    I wouldn’t have any local news if it were not for the internet since our local paper is very thin and the Rochester papers don’t cover our area. Thank goodness for your Blog Rachel!
    SO now i am at a crossroads. I REALLY REALLY miss my local & national news but not my cable bill. What to do? Direct TV? Frontier Cable TV? Dish Network? oh crap….back to the drawing board!

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