TV Dollars


It all happened like this--5 or 6 years ago, we moved into a two-plus story house with a full basement.  Truth be told, the basement is bigger than most of the houses and apartments I've lived in most of my life.  This place is HUGE.  Old, but huge.  Needed some, um, upgrades due to deferred maintenence and such, but that's a story for a different day.  Made of brick, like the smart little pig might have built.  5000 square feet or something like that.

So we moved in.  Needed a phone, some TV, and some Internet.  I'd had a wireless network in my old place, and wanted it again, but, like I said this place is HUGE.  The house we had left behind was less than half this size, and all on one level.  The wireless network here needed to cover three floors (when you count the basement, and I do) as well as part of the grounds.  I already had some wifi networking gear that I arrived with, so I called the local cable company (Time Warner) and got set up with high speed Internet, a couple of cable boxes (for the living room and the bedroom TVs, and digital phone service.  We have televisions in the guest room and in the basement too, and they have cable, but just whatever squirts out of the coax cable without a converter box.  A bundle, as they call it in the cable business.  About a hundred bucks a month. 

Time goes on.  I've changed the wifi router once since then, and with that and a wifi extender, I have pretty decent coverage.  The cable bill goes up a little bit every month.  How they get away with that I'll never know, and if there were a real alternative, I'd use it.  So, last month, the cable bill was $187.00, and that's too much.  I don't even have HBO for Christsake.  In addition, I've added some Internet appliances--a ROKU  HD box into the bedroom TV (and one in my office), a Sony Streaming HD Player into the living room TV, and a second phone line that hooks directly into the router with a NetTalk Duo device.  We also now have two smart phones that access the network, two laptop computers, other computers scattered around, and sometime soon we'll probably get a Kindle Fire or other pad.  Bottom line here is that the Sony Streaming Player was sometimes getting a little slow in the living room, reloading from time to time.  Not a big deal, but something I noticed. Sometime soon I'll be getting a new router (one of the dual-band N routers, no doubt) and a new range extender of some sort.  That should help, since I'm on a G system now.

I found that I was watching less and less of the TV content supplied by Time Warner, so yesterday disconnected the "digital converter" boxes, called the cable company, and downgraded by service so that the only TV content that I now have from the cable company is the stuff like I have in the basement--whatever squirts out of the coax cable.  Time Warner Cable, as usual, was sad and apologetic about my decision, but I was insistent, and they'll be out next week to pick up their equipment.  My bill will go down.  All is well.

But here's the really interesting part (for me, at any rate)--the Sony Streaming Player in the living room is no longer stuttering along.  The general wifi speed in the house is better.  I can only surmise that the cable company's digital TV boxes sucked up an enormous quantity of bandwidth. 

I'll still upgrade the wifi system to N soon, but it's no longer critical.  And then there's this:  The TV content I get from the HD boxes is better than what I got from the cable company digital service.  I'm getting better stuff for less money. 

I've noticed that Time Warner Cable will offer a new customer a cut rate to get them on board, but offer no "loyalty" discount for those of us who have used them for years and years.  I suppose all cable companies do the same.  The way it stands right now, I could get a dish from DirecTV with their standard package and still pay less total TV dollars than I previously was paying with Time Warner's digital boxes.  They should do better.

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