Sunday, September 8, 2013

Cut the cord - the setup

Droning on and on about cutting the cord some friends who are also feeling squeezed by robellus asked me for details. Maybe it was just to shut me up but i'm going to spell it out anyhow. Basically I swapped my ISP, switched to a no monthly fee VOIP service, cut my cable TV subscribed to netflix and installed an OTA antenna.

My main goals were cost savings, and to move off traditional media services. Cable companies are the next record companies the internet age is crushing large clumsy institutions.

I switched my ISP to a great company out of London ON. They have fantastic customer service in the few times I've called them. I've had no outtages beyond blackouts. $50/mth for 20+mbps down 2mbps up. I'm watching multiple netflix streams without issue.

Home Phone
I replaced my homephone with a free voip service from They have a bunch of options, one where you rent an ATA device from there for $5 a month and they provide customer service. Or you buy the ATA device yourself (~50$) plug it into your home router and enter a few settings they give you ($25 fee for ATA settings). I did the latter. If you want to keep your phone number they charge $25 to port your number over. I have call waiting, call display, voicemail, voicemail to email, call following and other settings I haven't tried yet. I also get free long distance to about 30 large Cdn cities (see list)

Cable TV
This was the most difficult in setup, resistance and also the most recent. I cancelled cable over the summer. I backed up our DVD collection onto a free media server called Plex . To use Plex I needed streaming boxes to hook up to TVs. Through sales I amassed a WDTV Live, a Plex and a Google TV. All a bit different with their own advantages.

 One thing that was missing was live TV, news in the morning, watching "prime time network shows". For that I built an antenna with a friend. 1x4 wood with some fairly cheap wire and a $1.10 balun from radio shack. Having a house provided me with a southern facing point to point the antenna. Being on a higher elevation also helps. The antenna in a 1st floor window gets TVO, CBC, Global, CTV regularly. On occasion it'll get Omni1,2 and CityTV. Eventually a professional antenna mounted on the roof should be able to get NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX. Hooked into the panel in the basement should provide OTA for all cable outlets in the house. I'll need some additional hardware for that when the time comes. I'll likely setup or buy a DVR for it as well.

The ROI is solid. I'll dig up some numbers on my initial costs and go through it in another post.

In a few weeks I'll provide a followup on how things are going. The main concern is getting the rest of the family onboard, getting the kids used to less selection. But i'm a change advocate. I think it'll be good for them. Some kids change towns and schools. I cutoff treehouse...

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