Cord Cutter Guide pt 1 – Introduction

This cord cutter guide will help you cut the cord for good. Last fall my TV contract reached the 24 month mark and my bill went through the roof. I decided that I had enough after a few very frustrating calls to AT&T/U-verse, and no help from them on reducing my bill. My service provider was telling me to suck it up. Move on and start paying 50% just for being their captive audience. Given this horrible customer experience, I decided to write this cord cutter guide to help you learn from my experience. Get some recommendations and apply them to the process of cord cutting yourself.

A cord cutter world

Internet and IP services have the ability to reduce phone, video and many other services into software that is compatible with the many computing devices we now have around. The process of cord-cutting means letting go of these obsolete contract and hardware-bound services. Replacing services with apps that we can run from our smartphones, tablets, computers and smart TVs. You don’t need to have all these devices around, if you have one of these devices you can still benefit from the savings of cord-cutting.

The process of cord cutting can feel complex and filled with uncertainty. That is by design. The companies that provide you with phone, cable, satellite and other services don’t want to lose you. In doing so; they favor making it difficult for you to leave instead of convincing you to stay by offering you outstanding service. No wonder these are the brands with the worst consumer opinion in the market!

The process feels uncertain and you will have to jump through some hoops for achieving your goal. Following this guide will help you get there and enjoy reasonable savings every month.

There are 3 main components to a cord cutter: your video service; your internet connection, and your phone service.

Video service

All cable providers offer you a set of packages with a number of channels. But, how many of those channels do you watch? Would you be able to get by with half of those channels if there was an option? How much would you save if that was possible? Cable providers will tell you that this is not possible! So, you are stuck subsidizing cable channels with shows you couldn’t possibly care about.

Ultimately, the market is moving to video-a-la-carte, or choose your channels. A-la-carte solutions are not completely ready in the current market, but we are moving in this direction. A savvy cord cutter can get as close as the available services will let them. Cable companies would not move an inch if it weren’t for consumers that demand it. Conventional companies not moving as fast has opened up a number of opportunities for new and upcoming startups.

Even if you are used to watching cable exclusively on your TV, you shouldn’t worry. In fact, you don’t necessarily need to have a smart TV for cutting your services and continue enjoying them. You will need a device to receive video. This could be any mobile phone or tablet, a computer or HDMI receiver you may want to purchase. You can connect all these devices to your current TV. You could even place a dedicated device connected to the back of your TV or use wireless HDMI so you don’t have to deal with a cable mess connecting to your TV. I will expand on all these options on another part of this guide.

Internet connection

You will need to have a connection, but don’t despair and blindly upgrade your connection speed to the maximum you can get from your ISP. Just consider this: about a decade ago, I was streaming Netflix shows and all I had was a 3 Mbit (3 megabit) connection at home. That is not much in today’s terms… it wasn’t much 10 years ago either! Nevertheless, the secret is to always have a consistent service.

Bandwidth Needed

The software you run to see video streams can optimize the best resolution for your available bandwidth. As long as your service will provide you with consistent broadband speeds, the client software doesn’t need to be constantly calculating and sending higher quality images that will not be received on time. By comparison, current cable vendors that stream digitally only require of 3-4 Mbits for a single stream (meaning watching on a single screen). This means that if you have a slow broadband connection of about 6 Mbits you could make the switch without changing your internet service.

ISP Scare Tactics

In any case, depending of your ISO and the type of connection they offer (and they will try to up-sell you on this, playing scare tactics) you may connect up to 48 Mbits for any service over the phone wire (no phone line necessary); 150 Mbits or 300 Mbits for fiber/coax combination (a.k.a. Time/Warner, Xfinity, etc) or up to 1000 Mbits (Gigabit) if you are lucky enough to be in an area serviced by a Fiber vendor.

You do not need much speed when it comes to using your Internet connection, but all devices connected to your WiFi will use part of the bandwidth and take away from that bandwidth you need for video. As a general rule, a home with 2 smartphones that connect into your WiFi, a tablet, a computer and 1 TV screen should do fine with 12 Mbits. Anything higher than that is gravy and will allow more connections or higher quality, per connections.

Phone service

Some ISPs will require you to have a phone land line to have your internet service. This is the case of DSL providers. Other services such as AT&T U-Verse can function over the phone wire even without an active phone line. Any other Internet service that does not come in through the phone line (such as cable or fiber) will not require of your phone land-line at all but you may want to retain that number… without paying for it. This is not only viable but easy to do.

Most ISPs provide you with some sort of IP phone service (a digital service) but they charge you a similar price than the phone company would. After all they just need to be competitive with the phone company. In another section of this guide I will show you how to cut that cord as well and keep your current phone number, convert it to digital, and avoid having to pay for any monthly services at all.

To go to the next part of this cord cutter guide, follow the link into “Cord Cutter Guide pt 2 – Services Overview

About Diego Samuilov

Editor in Chief/Founder Diego Samuilov is an executive, consultant, IT strategist and book, e-book and web published author. Diego has worked in Microsoft’s environments since 1990. Since then, he has successfully filled many positions related to the Software Development lifecycle. Having worked as a developer, analyst, technical lead, project lead, auditor and, since 1996 a project manager, manager, director and VP in the Software Development, Server, Desktop and Mobile environments. Diego is very passionate about the software development process, which has played a great part in his skills development. Since the introduction of the first ever PDA (the Apple Newton MessagePad) in 1994 and Windows CE in 1998 he has pioneered and pushed the envelope in the field of mobile software development. He has developed many solutions used in mobile markets, desktop and server environments. He participates in public and private developer community events. He actively collaborates with the community at support forums and blogs. Diego is the author of "Windows Phone for Everyone" available [HERE].