I’ve cut the cord.
This was not a revolutionary act, at least not in the sense it represents anything new. Millions of Canadians have dumped traditional television and phone landlines in recent years; more do so all the time. So it was more a matter of joining a revolution already in progress.
I suspect many of the 73 per cent of Canadians who still get traditional television services — according to a Forum Research survey last fall — are, like me, aging baby boomers. We’re old enough to remember when cable was the shiny new toy that broke viewers free of the rabbit ears’ limits, a doorway to first dozens, then hundreds, of channels.
For years, I’d been aware more and more people were cutting the cord — or never hooking up to start with. Big telco pricing for bundles — television, home phone and internet — kept creeping higher. But despite the promise of significant savings, I delayed taking the plunge.
The reasons were twofold.
First, what I had, a typical bundle, worked. It was convenient. The inertia of the familiar.
Second, as I discovered, my provider or big telco competitors would often offer me attractive — at least compared to posted prices — deals on those bundles if I stayed or switched.
So I did both. I’d call my provider’s retention team annually to get a decent monthly discount for the upcoming year. Other times, I’d switch to a telco competitor if their offer was markedly better.
But I kept my eye on the revolution. I kept researching: How to do it, what the different technology was and how well it worked, how much legally available content was out there. And, of course, how much one could save.
By this summer, I’d had it. And I was getting tired of the “game” — the seemingly necessary dance one did every so often with the retention folks at the big telcos, to get modest discounts off their ever-higher monthly fees.
Even with those discounts, potential price savings from cutting the cord looked substantive. Compared to regular, undiscounted fees for bundles paid by some people — folks who don’t know how to get discounts or who don’t try — well, don’t get me started.
So I decided to cut the cord and go internet only.
I signed up with a VOIP (voice over internet protocol) provider and kept my existing number (it’s a process called porting, if you’re interested). I needed to buy a $50 device to connect my existing phones with the internet. I’m not paying a monthly fee, just an inexpensive flat rate per minute. I rarely use my landline, but now whenever I place or receive calls, they travel over the internet.
Then I cancelled my expensive telco bundle. All I needed now was internet service. (There are quite a few providers out there, so if you’re thinking of doing the same, shop around.) Using another piece of required equipment — cost about $200 — I connected my TV to the internet, downloaded content-providing apps such as Netflix, CBC and others and starting streaming.
Some content is free. Other content, such as from Netflix, is subscription-based. In most cases, subscriptions can be dropped or added monthly.
Obviously, one’s costs depend on what one subscribes to, but overall the monthly financial hit for a cord cutter should definitely be far lower than for a traditional bundle subscriber.
Most importantly, though you do have to learn a new way to access content, what you’re watching looks as good as ever.