Back in May my Comcast — DBA “Xfinity” because that totally makes me forget they’re Comcast — bill went up to $150. We were paying $110 which was already more than I thought I should pay for data-capped mid-range broadband and some television, but that extra $40 pushed me over the edge. Mentally, $150 is a lot closer to $200 than I felt comfortable with.
In East Nashville, AT&T offers uncapped gigabit fiber to the home for only $80. I was sold. The only outstanding issue was television. Though more than half of our family television watching happened on Netflix, the rest came from Comcast. I did a quick audit of our DVR and realized over 90% of what we watched was available on Hulu or broadcast TV. With the wife’s buy-in, we decided to cancel Comcast and switch to antenna to supplement what we couldn’t get on Hulu or Netflix.
Here’s my antenna setup and what you can expect in East Nashville.
I started this journey by giving AntennaWeb a look. With the closeness of broadcast towers to my location and what I was reading on the Internet it seemed there was a good chance I could get by with a simple omnidirectional antenna. I ordered the AmazonBasics Ultra Thin Indoor TV Antenna and got pretty good results with it mounted high on the wall on my second floor behind the television. Aside from NPT down South of my location, I got all the local stations, though some — like channel 5 — were not as strong as they could be and were lost for a brief blip from time to time.
Because NPT was a very important station for us to have — Sesame Street! —, I decided to supplement my omnidirectional antenna with a mid-range directional. I purchased a GE 33692 antenna and mounted it in the attic. Using a combiner I merged its signal together with the signal of my AmazonBasics antenna — which I also relocated for aesthetics to the attic. This work got me NPT, but some stations still had some quality issues.
Online I found someone living in Manhattan who had similar problems to me. Unlike most in the antenna forums and sites my problem isn’t that towers are too far away, but that they are very close and spread all over. The Winegard LNA-100 amplfier was recommended as a way to resolve my problem. I added the amplifier to my setup and it worked like a charm.
DVR & Streaming
With a baby and full days, my wife and I totally rely on DVR and streaming to watch any of our shows. If it can’t work around Rosemary’s schedule, it just isn’t happening. Though I was a little taken aback by the $400 price tag, the Tivo Romio OTA has been a great purchase. First, if you’ve only ever used the crap DVR from the cable company, a Tivo is simply amazing. It’s fast, easy to use, and just feels nice. Compared to our Black Friday special Samsung “smart” TV, the Tivo is quick at launching Netflix, too. Plus, it puts Netflix, Hulu, and recorded television into a unified interface when browsing series
We’re almost a month in to our cable-free journey. So far, we’re very happy. We’re saving $70 and will have broken even on our Tivo & antenna gear investments come March. On broadcast TV we’ve found channels we didn’t get with Comcast. NPT & channel 5, for example, have a second channel with more programming and some cool local shows.
With all that’s available over the air and on Netflix, we’re even contemplating our Hulu subscription. The handful of things that might be watched there, just aren’t worth $9.
If you’ve never looked in to dropping cable or haven’t looked in a long while, I would highly recommend giving it a look.