Through recent years, I have heard friends speak about cutting the cables and saving money. Unfortunately, in rural Alabama, this wasn’t a viable option because of poor options with internet and spotty, at best, cellular coverage. Dish Network cost almost $200 month for TV and internet! Not to mention that the internet had a 20gb/month bandwidth cap!
Recently, ViaSat started offering a new internet package that IS an option to rural people in the United States. We finally have an opportunity to have a truly unlimited internet experience. While they do have a fair access policy that says once you exceed your allotted high speed data that you are subject to deprioritization, so far we haven’t experienced any slower speeds. In my area, there are 4 packages available: Unlimited Bronze 12 (12 mbps), Unlimited Silver 25 (25 mbps), Unlimited Gold 50 (50 mbps), and Unlimited 100 (100 mbps). I signed up for the bronze package and always have than advertised download speeds, even after using 500GB per month. This package runs $70/month with the first 3 months at $50. To learn more about ViaSat, visit https://www.viasat.com/internet.
Once I had internet installed, I needed to work on getting TV packages at home. Being a T-Mobile subscriber, Netflix is free with my cell service. I considered several options including: SlingTV, Playstation Vue, Directv Now, YouTube TV, and Hulu Live TV. There was a new kid on the block, per se, and this app is Philo. Philo is limited to certain devices but will stream on Apple iPhone, PC, and Fire TV. Philo costs $16/month for 40 channels. This worked well with Netflix and Amazon Prime video. We also signed up for Hulu at $8/month to catch shows that we may miss. Learn more about Philo at https://www.philo.com/login/signup?redirect_uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.philo.com%2Fplayer.
Next, I needed local TV. After searching Amazon for a TV antenna, I found the perfect antenna. I live 60+ miles from the closest TV station. Here is the HDTV Antenna that I found. I also needed a good TV antenna pole. Home Depot had the solution with a ChannelMaster Universal 40 ft. Indoor/Outdoor Telescoping Mast. While the Antenna and pole cost a little over $200, that was a one time fee. At 40 feet in the air, I currently have over 60 local tv stations!
Now with over 100 channels, and having my cost under $100 per month, I decided to get a DVR unit to go in the family room. I chose to go with a Mediasonic HOMEWORX HW130STB HDTV Digital Converter Box with Recording and Media Player Function – Certified Refurbished . This particular model needed an external hard drive. I chose a Seagate Expansion 2TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0 (STEA2000400) that really works nicely with the DVR. The Homeworx allows me to add digital media from my computer as well that is especially nice. For videos that are over 2 hours, however, the Homeworx will not completely play them in mp4 format. You can download Handbrake to convert them to mkv for free and the Homeworx will play them.
To watch Philo in the family room, I bought a Fire TV Stick from Amazon. The primary reasons being, Apple TV cost too much, ROKU doesn’t support Philo, and I am downright scared of the cheap Android tv boxes.
PlayOnTV offers a service to record movies and shows from several streaming providers at a cost as low as $1.99/month. You can then stream to any device such as Google Home, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku and watch your content anytime. With ViaSat satellite internet, there are times that the internet goes down with the weather, although it is rare, it happens.
Finally, I decided with a 40′ antenna pole, that I really should try to get a better cellphone signal in my home. I found a TriBand Cellphone Repeater and Amplifier for T-Mobile and AT&T on Amazon. Costing less than $150, I bought it and boosted our signal from 1 bar to 4 bars increasing our download speeds from 2 mbps to 14 mbps.
While my initial costs were under $500 to cut the cables, I am 5 months into it and am saving more money now than ever. If you have ever considered cutting the cables, there is no better time than now to do so!