Cut The Cord & Cut The Bill

Sorry cable company, I sacrificed you to La Muerta (A Kristen trinket from Central America)… Cause’, well, you’re dead to us.

Using your unlimited data and hotspot to get rid of cable

Rory here…

Kristen and I had been struggling with trying to eliminate unnecessary bills lately, and a recent change in the market presented a golden opportunity to save $40 a month.

A certain cable company that shall remain unnamed, had fallen into an unfavorable status with us, after they increased our bill (for the same service) of the slowest speed internet they offered, because they sneakily only allowed 12 auto payments through their online payment options. (knowing fully what this would mean for most customers we’re sure) This might be fine for the average couple, but we tend to travel to places that are pretty removed, and without internet access. (Like Africa) Kristen’s mother, who was house-sitting for us while we were gone, reported to us when we returned from Uganda, that “the internet just stopped working” while we were gone. We assumed this must have been some error since we were signed up for automatic payments, however, shame on us for not reading the fine print that said it would need to be re-established every 12 months… Ugh… No problem, we could just call the cable company and explain the situation, pay our bill, sign up for another 12 months, and be back on track, right? Nope, they decided to almost double the cost of our EXTREMELY SLOW SPEED INTERNET from the promotional rate of $39.99/month to $59.99/month from that point forward. We couldn’t believe what we were hearing! We even tried threatening cutting the cord with them if they didn’t resume with our previous cost, to which we got the “You can choose to do that if you like…” aka “hahahahaha, we’ve heard that one before, we know the position you’re in!”. You see, where we live, they know they are a monopoly. There are literally no other cable internet options. Having had satellite internet before, there was no way we were going that route.


Free Market At It’s Finest

What to do? Well, not having internet at home makes work really difficult, and we like being able to occasionally binge watch something on Hulu or Netflix, so we decided to keep them and keep paying them for the past year.

The problem with gouging your customers, is that you leave them begrudgingly paying for your service until a competitor comes along, and then they will HAPPILY move to your competitor, even if the price is the same. Luckily for us, the market for unlimited data in cell-phone companies just took a giant leap forward. For about $5 per line more than we were previously paying for our business lines (Kristen and I each have one) we were able to get UNLIMITED DATA!Game changer cable company!… Of course, unlimited anything usually has a catch, and this does too. Our cellular company says that once we exceed 20 gigabytes we “may be downgraded to 3G when other customers who have not exceeded their data limit need the network bandwidth”. It’s worth seeing what that does we thought, very little extra expense and the payback could be huge depending on how it worked in the reality of our daily lives.


The Experiment


We experimented for one month to see what being knocked down to 3G would be like. Would we still be able to watch streaming video as much as we wanted without noticing diminished quality? Here is what we have been doing for the past 2 months, some of which is intentionally excessive just for the sake of adequately testing beyond what our typical usage is.

  • Multiple devices streaming high quality video at once such as apple TV in one room streaming Hulu, while an iPad in another room watching Netflix.
  • All household devices connected to the internet now “tethered” to one of our cell phones instead of searching for Wi-Fi from our router.
  • Upwards to 12 hours a day of streaming high quality video.
  • All internet surfing etc. from cellphone and other devices. (social media etc.)
  • 4+ hours a day of streaming audio such as Pandora or Podcasts.


The Results


Long story short, we haven’t been able to notice a difference… And it’s not for a lack of trying! We have only had one time, when in a bigger city near us, that we noticed each of our phones seemed to be very slow, we assume this was due to our INSANE data usage, and likely because it was coupled with being in a larger population density area, during peak hours (Saturday afternoon). Aside from that one time, we haven’t noticed a single incident of noticeably slower internet/data connection.


So What’s The Catch?


There have been a few inconvenient downsides that we wouldn’t feel good about if we didn’t mention.

  • Using your phone as a hotspot for multiple devices makes for a quickly dying battery. Our solution to this is to just simply leave our phones plugged in while we are home in order to avoid this. I tend to fall asleep at night watching Netflix on my iPad, which if I do this and my phone is not plugged in results in a 1% battery life when my alarm goes off in the morning. I’ve just started plugging my phone in before falling asleep in case this happens.
  • From time to time, you have to reconnect your device connections manually, and sometimes you have to put in the “password” from your phone’s hotspot… Its annoying when you are trying to do something quickly, but not that big of a deal.
  • You cannot use Airdrop while your hotspot is on. If you constantly have to transfer audio-visual files between devices, this can be a pain, but if both of us are around we just connect the other person’s hotspot to everything while doing this.
  • There are some app and software upgrades that require you to have an internet connection, most recently anything over 100MB, we also resolve this by tricking the phone to thinking it’s on the internet via connecting to the other person’s phone hotspot.


Our Conclusion To The Experiment


Kristen has happily called our previous internet provider and cancelled our service with them. Surprisingly, they tried to offer us the previous rate of $39.99/month OR an upgrade on internet speed for our current rate of $59.99… Too little too late, we’re gone and never looking back, unless of course they start offering $10/month internet packages. For the slight inconvenience, we have a net savings of about $40 a month. Better yet, this solves the problem we were thinking about when we eventually travel and live out of a camper. Both for rainy day entertainment, and the ability to work from the computer without having to go to a coffee shop, this is going to be great! Sorry cable company, that’s what you get for gouging us, there is one household that will NEVER PAY YOU AGAIN!


This got us to thinking… Has anyone else found a way around paying a bill like this? If so, please let us know so we can benefit from your experience!

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