Saturday, April 28, 2018

Gone Streaming. Sorry, Comcast.

So sorry to hear that the cable TV industry is suffering because of the growing defection to streaming media services.  See this recent Fierce Cable article. We seem to be entering a meltdown, where increasing cable prices encourage more of us to "cut the cable" and go to streaming solutions.  That means that cable companies have to increase their rates, which leads to more defections.

You don't want to be the last one to switch over in a game like this.

We aren't the first by any means, but our sky-high bill finally got to be too much when the last of our introductory discounts disappeared.

Technically, the Comcast service in our area is very good.  Internet performance has inched up over 250 Mb/s.  Unfortunately, the monthly charge is running around $1 per Mb/s.

So we had an abundance of bandwidth and a similar abundance of channels -- most of which we never used.  The Internet bandwidth is sweet when I want to download a new Linux DVD every 6 months, but how much is that really worth?

TL;DR. We have just dropped cable video and phone service and cut back our Internet speed to 60 Mb/s -- quite enough for our small household.  These changes cut our Comcast payment by 70%!

The new system is built on a Netgear CM600 modem, an Asus RT-N66U WiFi router, an Ooma Telo VOIP box, and a Roku streaming device. (Our nice Sony HDTV predates "smart TV".*) In addition, we're watching more over-the-air TV, mainly to get the PBS Newshour live.  (PBS hasn't figured out how to live stream, it appears.) In this location, we need an amplified antenna that mostly works for us indoors, but it will need to be installed outdoors for solid performance.

The thorny issue now is how to make sense of the many streaming services.  People worry about what will be happening without "net neutrality".  The Internet is likely to fragment into walled gardens.  As others have pointed out, this already is happening in the streaming market.  Do I want Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, CBS Now, etc.?  There are several providers for live streaming TV channels, too. Each of these has some interesting content.  Even if I didn't mind paying for all of them, the data management gets to be overwhelming.  There is no simple navigation or program guide I know of that crosses those boundaries.

Brave new world?  Chaos?  All of that. Glad to help the cable industry find its destiny.

* Smart TV: I worry that the "smarts" get obsolete well before the "TV" does.  Integrating them should help simplify the user experience, but the quick obsolescence is a worry.
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