How to save $$$ with high speed Internet by cancelling your cable/satellite and phone line.
Getting your TV and phone service via the Internet instead of the traditional means is called getting them "Over The Top". This is driven by the fact that most people only watch 10% of the channels they pay for on cable or satellite. Everyone has heard of Netflix and Amazon Prime by now. That's just part of the story. Here is the detail of how to do it:
Step 1 - Get high speed Internet - 6M is absolute minimum for a single HD streaming program. 12M is better. 18M is good for at least 2 streams and surfing. More just makes thing happen faster.
Step 2 - Get a Roku. Yes, many TVs and DVD players are internet enabled. But their user interface is not even close to the Roku's. It's just easier to use. And the Roku comes with tons of free content. The Roku allows you to access free content as well as paid for services like those mentioned in Step 3. You probably want the Roku 3. The Roku 4 is for 4K Ultra HD so unless you have a 4K TV it's unnecessary. The Roku Streaming Stick is for flat screen TVs that are hung on the wall so that you have fewer wires. Roku is a one time cost, not recurring. Alternatives include the Amazon FireStick, Google Chromcast, and Apple Tv, but I prefer the Roku due to all the free content.
- Amazon Prime - On demand movies and TV shows, lots free, others pay per view or purchase. Also includes free 2 day shipping on Amazon purchases, free music, free e-books. $99/yr
- Netflix - Huge on demand movie selection in HD for $10/mo (HD) or $12/mo (UltraHD)
- Hulu - On demand TV shows old and new, including last night's SNL or South Park. $12/mo commercial free.
- Sling - Streaming TV including ESPN, CNN, AMC, TNT, A&E, History, TBS, IFC, Disney, Bloomberg, and more. $20/mo. This is live streaming, not on-demand. Apparently, you can add HBO to Sling for another $15/mo.
- HBO Now - All of HBO's original programs are here, like Game of Thrones...$15mo.
Step 3 - Subscribe to some services. Most of these are month to month without a contract:
Step 4 - Cancel the land line: There are a number of VOIP services that allow you to keep your phone number. I chose MagicJack, which cost $40 for the device and $85 for five (5), yes FIVE years of unlimited U.S. and Canada calling including the port fee to move the number. It doesn't get any cheaper than that. You can plug the MagicJack into the house phone line so that all the old phones work just like they used to. Buy the device here: Amazon The recurring rates are here: http://www.magicjack.com/plans.html
Step 4B - What about the alarm system? - Traditionally, alarm systems use the phone line to alert the alarm company. That has always suffered from the vulnerability of phone lines. An intruder can cut the line and avoid the alert. If you convert to VOIP, you'll want an alternative to phone line alerts. There are a few possibilities, but they depend on the alarm company. It might be time to shop monitoring. Here are the possibilities: A. Internet based monitoring - sufferes the same vulnerability as the phone line. B. Cell network monitoring - Costs a little more, but uses the cell network for alerts. C. Satellite monitoring - uses a small wire as an antenna, not a dish. D. Mesh network - Uses VHF or UHF radio to tramsit alerts. If alert can't reach the base station directly, other homes pick up & relay the signal. Check with your alarm company to see what alternatives they offer and shop around if you don'tlike what they have. MidSouth Security has mesh and satellite options.
Step 5 - Local TV Stations With an antenna, and that could be rabbit ears or one on the roof, there are a remarkable number of local TV stations available for free over the air. I mean dozens, not just 3 or 4 like the olden days. And the picture quality is impressive. You can plug the antenna directly into your TV. But there is a better way... Get a Tablo. It's a one time purchase. It attaches to your antenna and your network and a USB hard drive. It presents the TV schedule in the same manner as satellite or cable. And you can schedule recording of programs. You access these from the Roku. This Tablo has 2 tuners. There is also a 4 tuner Tablo. And here is a cheap antenna for your attic or roof.
Step 6 - Media Server - OK, you've got to be a little geeky to deal with this, but a Plex Server is awesome. Plex is a media server. You can access it from the Roku, a computer or a tablet. In a directory structure that makes it easy to find things, I stored all my music CDs, DVDs, still pictures and home videos on this box. Now I can watch any of that easily on the TV in the living room. Even better, it's free!!! Plex runs on Windows or Linux and the software is free. Installing it on Linux was trivial. I executed the command that downloaded & installed it, then used a web browser from my laptop to do every thing else.