Cord Cutting Part 2: How Much Speed Do You Need?
Last week I covered what cord cutting was, some of the main providers (Hulu TV, You Tube TV, Sony Play Station VUE), and what you should expect to pay (around $40 per month for Hulu and You Tube).
You will need streaming video box to play your live TV replacement service. Costs range from the $40’s (Amazon Fire Stick + Roku player) to $200 (Apple TV box). Unless you have a compelling reason to go with the Apple TV, I think the Amazon Fire Stick or Roku would work out just fine for most of my clients. Keep in mind that Amazon and You Tube still are not getting along right now, so if you want to subscribe to You Tube TV, I would go with a Roku. With any of these services, you can watch live TV at any time on your computer, smartphone or iPad (I’m not going to say “tablet” because with the standard iPad being $329, its unwise to look elsewhere).
How Much Speed Do You Need?
If you are on a DSL internet package from 2003, that won’t work. However, most of you are likely capable of streaming HD video. With multiple concurrent internet users in my home at any one time, I would probably feel comfortable with of an internet speed of 40 mbps or more (which means 40 megabits per second in the download direction). I see cable internet speeds frequently advertised for 150 or 250 mbps, but if there are just two people at home, you really don’t need to pay for that much speed. You certainly can if you like. I have some cord cutting customers getting by on 22 mpbs from the phone company. It works! Cutting down to Internet only (or internet plus phone) should cost you about $45 to $60 with the phone company and $70 with the cable company for a serviceable option — for the Internet portion of the bill. (Extra savings: if you only get Internet from the cable company, you can save a ton by owning your own cable modem.) The streamers I am helping don’t have much concern about a home phone, but you can still have one as a cord cutter.
It is true that with the cable company or the phone company, the sun sets on some packages offered. I had a client tell me recently that she was told by her cable company that she could never get her package back if she changed. Another client, who is not a candidate for streaming, recently changed her package to get the Home and Garden channel. She was upset when she lost one of her favorite channels. In a subsequent conversation with Comcast she was told that there was no option of reverting. While they may be full of bloated bills and price gimmicks, the cable companies (like Verizon, for example) are not so evil that they proactively cancel customers on “grandfathered packages.” If you are in a contract, you may be getting a 12 month or 24 month discount for being on a given package. That discount expires, but there is a good chance you can keep your package, even if it is no longer offered to new sign ups. Keep in mind, your provider may make it difficult for you to stay on that package. The price could be jacked up or features could be removed, seemingly on a monthly basis. On the other hand, you may be able to ride along the easy road with it forever.
Truth be told, when you decide to be a cord cutter, multi-service packages from one provider don’t matter much. Internet is the only thing that matters. You will be getting your TV elsewhere.
Maybe you just want to try Amazon Prime Video (since you are paying for it already). Maybe Netflix is super appealing to you. You may just want to rent some movies from time to time. Be a streamer! Or you may be sick of the $200+ bills and want to take 100% control of your live channel subscription experience. A “free TV” antenna may be good enough if you don’t care about anything more than local channels. With a Roku box (and the like) you can get a really good traditional pay TV replacement service for about $40 a month. If you don’t like the menus and setup on Hulu Live TV, you can go to YouTube TV the next month, and so on. You are not locked down. You have choices. Welcome to 2019!