At times like this, with the Final Four (congratulations Kentucky Wildcats!) as well as the second season premiere of Game of Thrones, could make someone pretty anxious about not having cable or satellite TV. I “cut the cord” when I moved to Seattle in 2010. Since then I’ve done without cable and not looked back. That’s not to say I don’t watch movies or TV. Between Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes and a over the air HDTV antenna I stay pretty plugged in. Let me talk about my setup and how I’ve saved money compared to the $150 or more a month I was paying for broadband and cable TV in Los Angeles.
To explain how I’ve done it I’m going to lay out my set up in a series of posts over the next few days. First step is connectivity, because streaming needs a stream.
Step 1: Broadband
In Seattle why not go with one of the cable providers for broadband as they were wired into my apartment building? First I guess I have a problem with dealing with the cable companies in any form, not just for TV but for broadband. In Los Angeles the local company was Time Warner Cable whose broadband was so slow and the connection so unreliable (it would be worse than dialup every morning from 7 to 9 AM while everyone logged into to check email before work) that I finally installed an AT&T DSL line as an *upgrade*. After that horror show there was no way I’d repeat the same mistakes in Seattle.
When I first moved north I tried Clearwire WiMax wireless broadband. I can’t say I’d recommend it to anyone now. It’s a dying technology (being replaced by LTE) put out by a company that’s constantly running low on cash. It’s no surprise that their 4G wireless, while completely unlimited in how much you could use per month never really provided a great streaming experience. You could download HD movies, as long as you were willing to let the download run overnight. In the end I was convinced that either my bandwidth was being throttled or the local network was just oversold and over capacity. It was time for another change.
A couple of months back I switched to a new provider that’s only available in a few Seattle neighborhoods, Atlas Networks. From what I gather they are running antennas to apartment buildings and then leveraging the CAT5 wiring to drop into each apartment. With Atlas I signed up for 50 Mbps with bursts up to 100 Mbps for $59 a month. As I type this Speedtest on my Android comes out at 16 Mbps and 25 Mbps on my MacBook Pro all while I was streaming an (SD quality) movie via iTunes to my Apple TV. No matter what the absolute speed it’s still 3 to 5 times better than what I had with Clear.
Total cost per month of $59, but since I use the connection for work (and blogging) as much as I use it for entertainment, let’s allocate about 50% of that cost or $30 to my cord cutting tally.