A Case for Cutting the Comcast Cord

Scrolling through the recent transactions posted to my credit card, I noticed that my Comcast bill for the month was about $15 higher than it usually is. Sure enough, whatever weird promotion I had just ended, and it was time to go finagle a new one with a Comcast rep. Then I stopped to think: Why the hell am I paying them over $150/month?! 

Here are some reasons why I've wanted to dump Comcast, and why you should too.

  • Every year you have to jump through hoops with Comcast sales people to renegotiate some sort of a limited-time-offer deal to keep the monthly cost down.
  • To qualify for a reasonable discount, I had to ADD phone service. Now I've got this giant clunky modem with a big battery (that I removed, otherwise you can't reboot the thing when there's a problem) which allows me to use the 'home phone' (that I do not know the number to, nor actually own a phone that would plug into this). For this device, I pay $7/month for. That's $84/year.
  • I pay $7.00/mo for a DVR that cuts the ends off of shows, has a clunky SD user interface that is rarely updated, and draws a continuous 150W irrespective if it's 'off' or 'on'. ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY WATTS ALL THE TIME!
  • Comcast has apparently sold my 'home phone' number, because I frequently get a caller ID pop-up on TV when watching something off the cable box. Nobody knows this number, not even me, so these calls are quite clearly telemarketers.
  • The quality of Comcast's HD video has been declining as they cram more channels into the same bandwidth. This post, from back in 2008 shows the problem very clearly. Today, the motion artifacts are so bad I get physically angry watching shows with a lot of movement. 
  • And lastly, I don't really watch much TV. I really shouldn't be either. Neither should you. Go outside, fatty.
So here I am with my fancy home phone service that has no phone connected to it, and an 'HD Preferred Xf'' bundle whose main purpose is to allow screenings of new Jersey Shore episodes as they air. Here's my bill, now at nearly $160. That's over $1900/year!

I'm not normally one to try to aggressively cut costs out of my life at the expense of enjoyment (hell, I love me some Jersey Shore premiers), but this is now a matter of principal. I'm paying for a service that irritates me. Everything about it does. The quality of the HD video is not great, the equipment they provide me with is power hungry and comically outdated, and they make me renegotiate pricing all the time. It's simply not worth it, both in terms of money and mental frustrations. It upsets me, and Snookie can't get into enough wild situations (pun intended) for me to justify keeping the service.

So what's the plan? Well for starters, I've got plenty to do besides sit on the couch and watch TV. But when this needs to occur, as it does when I need to not think for a while, here are my content sources:
  • Netflix streaming: I've been using this service for a long time and it's great. It's available on 3 devices connected to my TV (I use Apple TV primarily for this) and it's very cheap.
  • Over the air broadcasts: I'm researching antennas to pick up these stations in the Nashua, NH area. Here I can get local news and most of the prime time programming that I'd want. Without a DVR, it's much less useful, so I may keep that.
  • Amazon Prime Video: Amazon Prime is the best thing in the world for the free 2 day shipping alone, but they also include a Netflix-esque service that's now available on the PS3. 
  • Hulu Plus: I'll start my subscription to this again, which I had previously cancelled for lack of compelling content. It's only $8/mo, available on the PS3, and has much of the newer programming that Netflix lacks.
Aside from the OTA programming, all these services come over my broadband connection, bringing up the concern of bandwidth utilization. Last month and much of this month were the heaviest months of Netflixing I've ever had, and I don't expect to ever watch that much again (think 7 seasons of Grey's Anatomy...).

So under the heaviest usage I could ever fathom, I'm a safe 100GB away from the 250GB trip point where Comcast gets upset.  The moral of the story here is that I can rely on streaming services and stay under my data cap without worrying about it.

So excited about this new plan, I called their 24/7 support line tonight to cancel all these extraneous services, but their offices were closed. Thanks for the 24/7 line, Comcast.