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Erik's Spin


The Flipside to Cord Cutting

15 Aug, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

I am a cord cutter. I’ve been one since the summer of 2011 when economic reality transformed me from homeowner to renter.

Having already shunned the car in favor of the bicycle as a primary means of commuting, going down the fiscal downsize “to do” list it wasn’t hard to miss that $140 DirecTV bill.

I canceled the satellite-TV service, opting to pay the $20 monthly termination fee through the remainder of my contract — ignoring DirecTV’s myriad incentives to retain me.

From here on out, I would just pay for broadband access, watch a movie from my disc collection, rent from Blockbuster (LOL), stream on Netflix — or in desperation, read a book.

Fast-forward to the present, and I haven’t missed the bundled pay-TV experience. While I experienced initial ESPN withdrawal, avoiding the network’s East Coast bias is probably a good thing. And in February I streamed Super Bowl XLVII on CBS.com via HDMI cable.

But that streaming access is getting expensive.

When Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision collectively reported video subscribers losses of more than 1 million during their most recent fiscal periods, the multichannel video program distributors were able to offset the losses and actually improve ARPU (average revenue per subscriber unit) by gains in the number of new subscribers of high-speed Internet and telecommunications.

Time Warner Cable now generates 42% of its revenue from non-video sources. Its growth in residential broadband Internet access driven by thousands new subscribers seeking ultra-fast 30 megabits per second (Mbps) data flow speed. TWC also increased equipment rental fees, including upping cable modem charges more than 50%.

In 2012, I paid less than $1 a day for broadband access from Cox Communications, which is based in Atlanta and ranked third fastest in Netflix’s ISP speed index for July.

But getting Cox here in Buford, Ga., which is less than 40 miles from Atlanta, is not an option. My choices are limited to AT&T U-verse (11th on the Netflix index) and Clearwire (dead last).

And AT&T is charging me up to 75% more per day (introductory offer).

Cord cutting seems to be tying me to lower quality and growing bills.

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