Cut the cable, go off the grid

Cutting The Cable And Saving Money

Cut the cable, go off the grid

In this audio episode of The Handyguys Podcast, we discuss “Cutting The Cable” and moving off of the telecommunication and entertainment grid. How much do you pay for your home phone and TV entertainment? You can save a lot of money by cutting some of the cables.

Moving off of the grid — Eliminate the local phone service

Brian and Paul talk about cutting their phone bill down to only a few bucks per month. Brian uses the Ooma Telo which costs about $200 up front for equipment but has free calling. Paul uses a service from Via:Talk which has no up-front costs but a monthly cost of about $18. Both services give you more features than the regular phone company and let you keep your existing number. You need to have an Internet service to use them.

Moving off of the grid — Drop cable, satellite or FiosTV

For television entertainment, Brian and Paul both have on demand movies and television from Netflix using the Roku box.

For T.V., Paul pays about $20 for basic cable which includes all the broadcast channels delivered via unencrypted HD digital signals. He pays Netflix for their basic package which includes unlimited streaming of movies. He also pays schedules direct about $20/year to handle scheduling for his home build MythTV DVR.

Sally Field as Gidget on the phone with TVAnother option is to get your HighDef programming from an over the air antenna. That is free. Brian & Paul both use a free DVR called MythTV that makes a PC into a home theater PC to give them Digital Video Recorder (DVR)  capabilities similar to what is available from Tivo, Satellite, cable and Fios providers.

Building your own Home Theater PC DVR using MythTV is beyond the scope of a podcast and these show notes. You can check out some resources to determine if that project is right for you.

Couch Potato

Bottom line monthly costs after cutting the cord and moving off the grid (to the internet)

Brian Paul
Phone $3.26 $17
TV $9 $30
Total per month
$12.26 $47

12 thoughts on “Cutting The Cable And Saving Money

  1. How do the VoIP phone systems work with 911? Can the police still see your address when you call 911?
    I’m dead set against having only cell phones and no land-line phones. Especially if there are chidren or elderly people in the household who someday may need to make an emergency call.
    How about Reverse-911? Can the police still notify you thru R-911 in local emergencies?

    What is Fios? I didn’t hear an explaination.
    Very interesting show!
    Also, can you send me a link for “Blueberry” and the other services you mentioned?

    1. Steve – Great questions! These systems DO work with 911. You have a normal number just like with the local telco. Some Voip services do not. The only potential problem from a 911 perspective is the system will not work if your Internet connection is out. In critical situations you would want to have a battery backup or some other means of contacting 911.

      Fios is Verizon’s fiber optic based Internet service. Fiber into the house.

      Blubrry is one of the outlets that carries The Handyguys audio podcasts and video shows. Blubrry has a channel on Roku which will allow you to watch or listen to The Handyguys via that platform.

    1. For the greatest savings use OTA, off the air. A rooftop antenna can pick up your local stations plus a few more new channels that came due to the move to digital. No monthly fees. The downside is no Disney or Nick for the kids, no Mythbusters for handyguy Brian, but then the Roku and Netflix fills that gap. The MythTV adds the beloved DVR functionality to the OTA.

  2. Hey handy guys. Great show on cutting the cord. I’m about to do the same at my house – my DTV contract is up in December. I’ve been doing lots of research and have started to get things ready for my “conversion”. I thought I’d share what my final setup will most likely look like. As a word of warning: I’m an IT professional, so some of these things might stump others.

    — The Parts —
    2 over-the-air HD tuners (got at monoprice for under $40 total)
    SiliconDust HD Homerun dual-tuner ($109 Amazon)
    Elgato’s EyeTV software ($80
    Mac Mini ($700)
    Pioneer VSX-1020 receiver ($380)
    Samsung BD-C5500 Blu-ray player ($99 BestBuy refurbed)
    Netflix Subscription ($8/mo)
    Harmony 880 Universal Remote ($50)
    Vizio LCD HDTV
    *Assumes an existing home network and broadband cnx

    — The Setup —
    The 2 OTA tuners are in my attic. I used to determine what direction to point them. They are connected in the attic to the HD Homerun device, which in turn has one network cable that runs back to my home network. The Mac Mini sits with my home theater equipment. It ties in to my network (CAT6) and to my receiver (HDMI). Elgato’s EyeTV software is running on the Mac Mini. It is aware of the HD Homerun tuner and uses it to tune local HD broadcast stations. It also is able to tap in to TV Guide for listing information. It serves as my DVR. It can handle recording setups to automatically record new episodes, etc., much like a DTV or Dish DVR. The dual tuners allows it to record two shows at once, or allow you to record a show while watching something else. The Harmony remote allows me to setup “activities” so that the correct equipment and inputs are setup when I want to “Watch TV” or “Watch a Blu-ray”. I can tap in to my Netflix subscription either through my Samsung Blu-ray player, or by using the Mac Mini. I chose a Mac Mini over an Apple TV so that I could watch live TV and use it as a DVR. While it’s true that most broadcast shows are available online, they are not full HD quality, and as you mentioned you cannot watch all live sports online (though is starting to address that).

    — The Outcome —
    Though there is a steep cost of entry to get all the hardware needed for this setup, it will pay for itself within the first year of cancelled DTV service. There are also many other benefits of having my “TV viewing” arrangement based on the Mac Mini. I won’t go too deep in to those because it gets pretty geeky – but let’s just say much of it focuses around mobility. I’m looking forward to fully “cutting the cord” and cutting down monthly expenses. I’m tired of paying too much to watch commercials and not being able to find anything I’m interested in. I know that my viewing options will drop in number, but my viewing pleasure should rise to compensate for that. Thanks for the great show.

  3. I don’t know why everyone thinks it is the best thing to do to cut off your satellite. I wouldn’t cute my service off in a million years. I love having all my channels and not worrying about where I have to find them on the internet. As a customer and employee with DISH, I love that they have so much to offer me. I have the Sling adapter and I love it because it allows me to have LIVE TV everywhere I go on my Phone or computer. I never have to be home to watch my favorite shows and that is the best feeling. The plus about the Sling adapter is that it is free for existing and new customers! Then for me being a huge movie buff, I got the Blockbuster Movie Pass. The Blockbuster Movie Pass allows me to stream thousands of on demand titles, get movie through the mail and have 20 extra movie channels. I think that it is way worth it compared to Netflix because it is Free for new DISH customer to up to a year! I love that I have everything that I can ask for, for nothing but the package. Be sure to check DISH out today!

    1. Well, I’m not telling anyone what to do or not to do. For my family and I it was worth eliminating the aproximately $100 / month, $1200 per year costs for premium TV. I get 99% of what I want on ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX for zero cost (and better picture quality with OTA than cable or sat can deliver). For movies I use Netflix, like the blckbuster movie pass. I also am now trying out Boxee for some online stuff. All this goes through a home built DVR and one remote control for everything. It passes the wife and kids test. They don’t even really know its much different from Dish.

      I had DISH from the early days Model 1000 and 4000 receivers. I have the “everything pack” for many years. I spent thousands of dollars, enough for a new car or a really nice vacation. Instead, I spent that $$$ on the privilege of sitting on the couch. My priorities have changed and my wallet thanks me.

  4. Internet tv is totally the wave of the future.
    As broadband speeds get faster, people will be watching their shows on sites like this.

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