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April 07, 2011

Cutting the Cord; Dismounting the Dish

A young friend and his family just disconnected their FairPoint landline, which they had been using for voice and DSL, and took down their Directv satellite dish; total gross savings: over $100/month. They replaced all of this with a Verizon cell phone he bought at the VZW store, which came with a $30/month all you can eat data plan for the life of the phone (apparently a special offer).

They don't feel they have given up anything in functionality. They were using their cell phones for voice, anyway. The new phone he bought has WiFi and can serve as a hub for up to five devices. He says he is getting better effective speed from it than he was getting with DSL. They get their entertainment and news over the net; the shows they want to watch are available for download (I don't know how much, if anything, they're paying for downloads). No question that this is one of the ways of the future. The implications for traditional phone and cable companies are enormous.

We came home from a three week trip to discover that, in our zeal to save electricity, we'd unplugged not just the big TV screen but also the DVR. How were we supposed to catch up with the episodes of Damages we hadn't recorded? No prob, it turns out, can buy them ala carte from Amazon for $1.99 each ($2.99 for high def); full season even cheaper. Hmmm… so we don't really need Directv's channel 101.

I'm not quite ready to follow my young friend's example but I've made a checklist of what has to happen before I cut my landline cord and take down my dish. Could well all be completed within a year.

  1. Faster Internet access than I'm getting today with DSL. Even watching mlb.com on its lowest definition is painful. Took five hours to download high def Damages. Hope to have this solved within a month with new service from a WISP (also, of course, removes the need to keep the landline for DSL).
  2. A modification to my home alarm system so that it works over the Internet and doesn't need its own phone line.

    Reach this point in the list and the landline is gone.

  3. Local channels available as webcasts. The dramatic shows we watch are already on the web, as it turns out. BBC is on the web. The local news shows and CNN are mostly on the web but in a story at a time format. Maybe I just need to get used to selecting individual stories but do like to let the news come at me while I eat. Of course, I don't want to have to watch the 6PM news at 6PM or lose the ability to fast-forward through boring stuff; the DVR has spoiled us for that.
  4. NFL on the web. I don't always buy Directv's NFL season ticket, but many Jets' games are on broadcast channels even here in Vermont. It's unlikely the NFL will let the networks or local network affiliates webcast these games; but it's likely the NFL will follow Major League Baseball and sell these games to us directly somehow. And, if a strike prevents an NFL season …..

Related posts:

Cutting the Cable; Taking Down the Dish

Daddy, What's a Channel?

No More Landlines – Comm Forecast #1


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