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Thread: Dealing with the cable company

  1. #1
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    Thumbs up Dealing with the cable company

    I've finally finished the last phase of 'cutting the cable'. I've had Comcast for over 3 years and as far as technology goes, they are pretty much on the top wrung. But they, like many of the others, are pricing themselves right out of the market. In AT&T's case, they're into their 3rd steaming iteration, dropped or dropping the satellite business, and have recently raised their prices in spite of all.

    Sometime late last summer my promo ran its course, and I was awarded an increase to about $242 per month for my loyalty. I had a modem/router, and 4 tv's with cable boxes, one of which was a DVR. These devices accounted for a little over $50 per month in equipment fees. Enough is a enough and set about finalizing my cable departure.

    I now have 3 Apple TV and one Roku receiving devices. The system also has a Channel Master OTA antenna which feeds 3 of the 4 tv's directly as well as an HDHomerun converter, which is plugged into the newly purchased Motorola modem/router. My setup also includes a Nvidia Shield, with the 'for life' software, and a 4 GB SSD which houses my movie collection. Also, I have replaced all of the household phones with Vtech bluetooth units, which all interface with a Consumer Cellular flip phone that now has the home phone number ported to it, and acts as the base for the others (paired).

    Late last fall I downgraded my Comcast account to just the 200 MB modem/router 'Blaster' IE service, and the VOIP phone; $49 for the phone and $30 for the IE fees, plus the usual hidden costs and applicable taxes. My ultimate goal here was to dump the VOIP phone. That's where it got dicey when attempting to deal with Comcast. I was told that sure, you can dump the phone, but your monthly billing rate will be $2 higher than it presently is. Fortunately for me, I have a friendly source well placed within the corporation, and was told to just hang up and keep calling. Yesterday, January 31st, I was finally able to cut a deal. Not exactly the one I wanted, but managed to dump the VOIP phone but had to keep the 200 MB 'Blaster' service for $50 per month. I can live with that. The last customer rep wasn't going to budge, but I mentioned that Comcast just paid the largest fine ever administered by the FCC for forcing folks to pay for service that they didn't want, or never ordered. We also talked about a certain cable company, either in Minnesota or Wisconsin, that was forcing their customers to pay for the company's modem even though they had purchased their own. That company was sued, lost, and is now in bankruptcy.

    If you regularly or just occasionally look in on 'Cord Cutters.com', you will notice that these cable companies are taking huge hits as people are leaving in droves for the streaming providers.

    So, how do I like streaming so far? It's okay, as I use Hulu and I can't complain about the quality of the feed. They do a good job of buffering and almost no outages todate. The amount of totally free programming that's available is amazing, and if you're into old movies, like me, it's a bonanza.
    Last edited by Agent Orange; February 1st, 2020 at 05:43 PM.
    Surely not everyone was Kung-fu fighting

  2. #2

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    I've heard about the monopoly situation in America, not nice. Here, I can choose any ISP, even though they had nothing to do with the cables. It's only a matter of choosing a plan and a ISP that best suits the situation.

    Anyway, it's good that you've got out from under their heel.

  3. #3
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    As the United States built out its telephone infrastructure Congress intervened with regulation that forced the "owners" of the wires to allow their competitors to use the same wires for their services. Unfortunately the same practice was not followed with cable. Cable distributors struck deals with municipalities for exclusive rights within their districts. Many of these deals are more than 40 years old and still in force.

    So you may find that there is no alternative to your current cable provider; they "own" your area. And the local administration has no interest in changing the situation because they receive funds from the provider. As time goes on the smaller cable operators have been "consolidated" (bought out) by larger companies, and now there are essentially just a handful of them left. To date, Congress has shown no interest in anti-trust investigation.

    Congress, which is admittedly distracted at the moment with other issues, refuses to consider Internet service as an utility. I have suggested the topic to Senator Brown of Ohio; as yet I have not received a response. But it's only been two years and he's a busy guy. Mention impeachment, however, and you get a response right away.

    -CH-

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by clh333 View Post
    ... Cable distributors struck deals with municipalities for exclusive rights within their districts. Many of these deals are more than 40 years old and still in force.

    So you may find that there is no alternative to your current cable provider; they "own" your area. And the local administration has no interest in changing the situation because they receive funds from the provider...
    In the town where I live the Mayor is a VP at Comcast!

    In all fairness he was elected mayor loooong after Comcast had control of the entire area.
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  5. #5
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    $242.00 a Month! Good god.... That is nearly $3,000.00 a year in cable bills. Our Cable provider went up $5.00 monthly this January putting us at $840.00 a year.

    I have spoken to people who pay in excess of $265.00 a month and I just don't get it. That would cut way to deep into my burnable income.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by clh333 View Post
    So you may find that there is no alternative to your current cable provider; they "own" your area.
    -CH-
    Very well put. We have a newly elected township supervisor and he swears that they, the township, have cut no deals with the cable companies. He suggested that I go on my own, house-to-house, contact at least 10 neighbors, and approach some of the other carriers. That's BS. In reality, if Brighthouse or one of the others showed up on my doorstep, I don't think they're going to bend over backwards as far as rates are concerned. So, I'm going to sit tight with what I have and wait for something to pop with the forthcoming 5G technology.

    As an aside, I'm saving about $100 per month as of now with my present setup. Yes, there was an initial outlay for hardware, but I expect to recoup on that by the end of the year.
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  7. #7
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    We snagged cable television in my area around 1977 or so. Back then a cable company would have to invest quite a bit of money to run all the cables down each street and hope people would subscribe to make their money back (it was new after all and TV was free back then needing nothing but an antenna). So cable companies would make a deal with each city to be exclusive and 100's of cable companies sprang up. Those deals are now illegal but the infrastructure is there and nobody is going to try laying new wire in order to compete. So instead of competing with each other in each city/territory they just buy each other out until very few are left. This was before broadband was a thing, we used the phone company (another monopoly) for dialup Internet back in the day.

    Back in the 90's still with the same cable company I decided to buy a new fangled mini dish (unlike the old style searching for life in outer space satellite dishes that NASA would have felt at home with) from Direct TV. You had to install the thing yourself back then and you ended up with a much better quality image then what you had from Cable plus music channels and PPV. Later on I ditched DTV and my parent purchased Dish Network which they still have. I ended up streaming with Netflix.

    Prices for satellite dishes dropped like a rock over the years from when I was an early adopter but pricing for service has never gone down even factoring in inflation, same with cable. What did happen was cable internet around 2000 in my area which I quickly snapped up even if I didn't watch cable TV at that point. Now companies could charge you for TV AND Internet without having to change any cables.

    You can say that cable providers have a monopoly on cable TV and Internet but Satellite services and streaming ate into their TV money and cheap DSL and most people browsing using their 4G equipped phones ate into their Internet profits as well. Cable is a industry that is turning into a monopoly but is slowly dying. I get advertisements from Spectrum EVERY week begging me to get TV/Internet/Phone from them at a cheaper rate then I pay just for internet ($70 a month for 100Mb)for maybe a year before they jack the rates up but I don't bother. Why would people need VOIP now when cell phones are $20, that's 20 years too late to compete with AT&T (another monopoly that still charges a ton for a wired landline that few people use anymore).

    With Internet you don't need a TV subscription anymore. So as long as my Internet service is not owned by a content producer I am happy. Once Disney buys out the Internet providers were are all screwed.
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  8. #8

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    FYI, for your secondary TVs which don't need the premium/pay TV channels, you do not need a cable box. Almost every new TV made in the past 10+ years has a built-in "clear QAM" tuner which can receive all freely viewable digital cable (or FiOS) channels.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by vwestlife View Post
    FYI, for your secondary TVs which don't need the premium/pay TV channels, you do not need a cable box. Almost every new TV made in the past 10+ years has a built-in "clear QAM" tuner which can receive all freely viewable digital cable (or FiOS) channels.
    How does that work? Isn't FiOS a Verizon fiber optical deal?
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Orange View Post
    How does that work? Isn't FiOS a Verizon fiber optical deal?
    Only for the distance from the central office to the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) in your home. Inside your home, FiOS uses standard coax cable for the connections to the TVs and the network router.

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