The #SOTU and Fun With Time Warner Cable

I watched the State of the Union last night but honestly didn’t stick with it all the way to the end. I heard President Obama identify a lot of problems and propose a bunch of solutions, but it’s doubtful that this year will be any better than the previous five, as far as “Washington gets things done” is concerned. Obama threatened to throw his weight around a bit rather than sit back and watch the House Republicans and tea party block, bully, and bullshit, but it doesn’t matter because they still think in their darkest hearts that the President is a “socialist dictator“. (What they really mean is that they have no idea what a “socialist dictator” is.) 

The state of the union is conflicted right now, and it’s because we don’t have a House of Commons anymore, but two Houses of Lords. We’re being led by the noses by a pack of wild millionaires and billionaires, few of whom know or care about real solutions to real problems. Of course, the so-called “tea party” is nothing more than the willing lumpenprole army for monied interests, so we can’t even get “tea party” right. 

What I did at the end of my day yesterday was give myself a raise of $110/month. 

Until yesterday, I had been paying Time Warner Cable almost $200 per month for two DVRs, digital channels, turbo high-speed internet, and HBO. On Facebook, Kevin Purdy wrote about his experience cutting his monthly expenses by, among other things, cutting out cable to its bare minimum. I called Time Warner and discussed with three reps during one call about reducing my monthly bill to under $100. You’d have thought I had called about partitioning Europe or drilling down the details of the Dayton Accords. 

As it was, I yesterday unceremoniously relinquished two DVR units with associated cords and remotes at the Time Warner office downtown. I have retained high-speed internet at about $60/month (it gets cheaper when you add bundles!), and channels 1-22 (which, given the digital signals the TV reads without a cable box, is not precisely accurate). No more 24-hour mind-numbing cable news. No more HBO. No more Travel Channel or Duck Dynasty or Pawn Stars or Storage Wars. I have local channels and a decent internet signal. 

And with that, I pay Hulu Plus about $8.00/month and I pay Netflix another $8.00/month. I have access on Hulu to almost every basic cable show I enjoy (South Park, Daily Show, Colbert), back episodes of Family Guy and the like, and loads of British comedies and series, which I enjoy. 

With the PBS App on my Apple TV, I am well into season 3 of Sherlock, which WNED has put on hold until February. With Vevo the kids and I can watch actual music videos. With iTunes, I can buy or rent movies that the streaming services don’t have. But they have a lot. If I have a hankering for 24-hour news, Apple TV has Sky from the UK. If I need the Weather Channel, it’s on Apple TV. Hulu has Spongebob for the kids, and I’ve been binge-watching Peep Show and That Mitchell and Webb Look on Netflix and Hulu, respectively. 

Channels “1-22” costs about $19/month. If I wanted some of basic cable, (channels 23 – 98) I’d need to rent a box and pay another $56/month. That’s ok. 

$110 in my pocket every month is well worth it.  Now, if only I could bump my unlimited family plan for 3 smartphones and 6 GB of data down from the $220/month it is now. 


  • Lots of free streaming video on Amazon Prime, too, if you have that. We haven’t had cable in any form in over 14 years.

    • It was weird coming home today and there was no front-of-the-cable-box clock and I was like WHAT TIME IS IT OMG. That, so far, is the only thing that was remotely disconcerting. Now, I’m eagerly anticipating the next Apple TV box. I’m thinking the upstairs one will be called “Grantham” and the downstairs one will be called “Carson”.

  • Ridgewaycynic2013

    The words ‘fun’ and ‘cable’ are mutually exclusive.

  • TWC is absolutely horrible when it comes to lowering your rate, or as I experienced, showing up for service calls. However, I am willing to bet that you will soon get a call from them asking you back at a lowered rate. Not sure why they think it is better business to bribe old customers back, rather than work to keep them in the first place. Maybe they just want to call your bluff.

  • I cut the cable cord last year, and switched to prepaid mobile around Xmas, so I’ve cut my overall spending on cable+mobile by about $110/month. When my wife and daughter finish their indentured Verizon servitude and switch mobile plans, we’ll save another ~$50/month.

    I’m using StraightTalk in Rochester on the AT&T network. LTE, $45/month (inclusive of taxes if you buy 3 months at a time from, 2.5 GB data. For a family of 3, Net10 wireless (same company as StraightTalk, American Movil) also has AT&T SIMs and a family plan (2.5G data) for $130/month. US only, no international service.

    Before porting my number to StraightTalk, I tried the T-Mobile network in Rochester and it was better than the last time I tried it. Very fast LTE everywhere urban. Still some signal loss inside of buildings, still only 2G most rural areas, but they’ve spent billions on their urban networks and it shows. I used a prepaid T-Mobile SIM with a $30/month 100 minutes and 4.5GB data plan to test it. You need to hunt for that plan on their prepaid website, not available in stores. If T-Mobile is any good in your area, then a postpaid family plan is $120/month for 2.5GB of data. It also includes free 2G international data roaming. T-Mobile also has a trade-in plan that will wipe your early termination fee from your current provider, though you’ll need to buy a new device at full price from T-Mobile to make this work. (Just like the rest of the world.)

    I chose StraightTalk because we occasionally travel to see family in areas where T-mobile prepaid coverage isn’t available and postpaid limits total data use. Otherwise I would have probably switched to T-Moble. BTW, both StraightTalk and T-Mobile just throttle you to 2G once you hit their data limit.

  • disqus_g6fqjyhj09

    Going the prepaid/MVNO route is great if you understand the differences between GSM and CDMA and you’re not reliant on customer service for every problem you have with your phone. On average, unlimited talk/text plans usually start around $40/line but there are ones that are even cheaper than that. I use a Verizon MVNO called PagePlus where I get 1200 minutes, 3,000 text messages and 500MB data for only $29.95 per month using an iPhone4.

  • Given the clarity of the digital broadcast signal nowadays, why are you bothering to pay for the same “basic” channels? Which channels on basic are not broadcast?

    Also, quick note about the Republicans calling Obama a dictator: they’re starting to get more careful with their histrionics. Obama wasn’t called a “socialist dictator,” he was called a “socialistIC dictator.” I don’t think it matters too much (still unbecoming of a Representative IMO) but you gotta appreciate the semantics!

    • TBH I haven’t tried just an antenna yet. I didn’t mind so much getting rid of the cable box / DVR, but I associate antenna with rabbit ears and static. I might pick one up at Best Buy and see how it is.

      • No more static but digital is on or off. You get a station or a black screen which makes it difficult as you need a good signal to get any picture (and different stations come from different directions). No more watching ABC though the static because you’re too lazy to get up to move the rabbit ears

      • We have a digital TV hooked up to rabbit ears and it works great, but we’re in the city. Not sure about the reception elsewhere.

  • This is all well and good until this month’s Verizon v. FCC decision becomes final and non-appealable. At that point, Time Warner Internet will begin its bedding of content providers- speeding up Hulu, slowing down Netflix, and blocking Apple TV altogether at the series-of-tubes end (if those are the providers who do or don’t play ball with their demands).And we can count on their usual full disclosure of the immimence of these changes- as in not a second before they just happen (see TWC v. CBS/Showtime, TWC v. LIN Broadcasting, TWC v. Disney, passim); then we’ll be subjected to endless Billionaire on Billionaire press wars about who’s at fault and you’ll be encouraged to sign up with the blessed child, which may or may not have just ditched a third of its back catalog to save money on streaming rights.

  • I went the other way. After 10 years with no TV except the locals on the rabbit ears I got TWC for a Christmas present for myself and family. For me it was ability to see Sabres games and maybe Yankees and Pirates this summer.
    I got a plan with no contract and no cancellation fee, or so it appears.
    It’s been fun having cable for the past month. And it’s been appalling seeing all those channels, the vast majority of which I will never, ever watch.
    It’s going to be fun cancelling it…probably sooner than later.

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