Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cancelled Cable, Boosted Broadband

This weekend, my husband suggested we cancel our cable altogether.

We've been using Astound which bundles 7 Mbps broadband internet access, basic cable, and basic local phone for $100, not counting fees. In the past, I had thought about trying to eliminate just the channels I found to be particularly addictive and time wasting (VH1, Bravo, Comedy Central, Food Network, HGTV--my crack, basically), but since it was the same price with the package, we kept them.

But now, we're not even watching network TV; he tuned in three times: for the presidential debates, primaries and March Madness, but that's it. So Sunday, my husband wanted to drop everything but the internet, and use our mobile phones. I convinced him we should keep a land line for emergencies (I guess then we'd better find a rotary phone at a thrift shop if that's the case) so I called Astound last night to drop cable.

I was transferred twice, once to a specialist (about 10 minutes on hold to get there), then to an even more special specialist. I'm guessing they were going to try to convince me not to downgrade, but how do you argue when it's not about price, but someone just doesn't watch TV anymore? To their credit, once I got the special-specialist, he took care of it without any debate and apologized for the wait (I was watching Hulu, so I didn't care).

As for the cable, the existing options were to downgrade slightly to 6 Kbps or up to 10 Kbps. Given that I would still shave off $35/month from my total bill, I opted for the faster option.

I'll be honest, I now understand why cable companies want to fight Net Neutrality and charge more for the right of certain content to be streamed faster. If I'm watching Hulu, where I can see movies online free from networks, it means I'm not paying my cable company for Bravo, NBC, Fox, FX, and SciFi.

But if I didn't watch any of this video on the internet, I'd be fine with the $20 low-speed internet. Instead, I'm paying $55 for faster broadband to get a limited set of channels, rather than $48.50 for more channels. They get $35 more out of me so I can get access to a few shows, which is more than their most basic cable package at $20. So all in all, I think they come out ahead. Granted, I'm not average-- I think most people use Bit Torrent to download shows illegally. But as networks and studios make more options available, that shouldn't be as much of a problem.

Perhaps I'll change my tune if they raise their rates on internet access as a whole in response, but in general, I think the cable companies fighting back the only way they can -- making you jealous of those Silicon Valley millionaires, who wipe their butts with $20s (as opposed to those cable millionaires who only use Abe Lincoln's face on their tush). I guess that's why I only saw this commercial in Georgia, not California.

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