Six months ago, nearly a year after cutting the cord, the Wilcox household reattached—to AT&T U-verse. At the time, my daughter was moving back home, and Cox cable comes into the room where she would reside. Given the importance of the Internet to my daily work,and not wanting the modem and WiFi access point to be in a place with limited access, we signed up for AT&T Internet service and television with it. The connection is in the main room of our apartment, where Cox can’t come without drilling and cabling the landlord won’t allow.
Before the Fall college semester started, Molly moved out to a group place near the ocean. Around the same time, U-verse started to behave badly. We had bandwidth, but some websites consistently hung or slowly loaded. Top of list: Anything Google. I would later learn that, coincidentally or perhaps not, Google Fiber courted San Diego County.
The family split the difference. We cancelled U-verse Internet, brought back Cox, but kept the AT&T TV service. At the end of August I started watching X Factor UK, which airs a day later than telecast in Britain, on AXS TV. I never liked American Idol but enjoyed X Factor US while it lasted—and the UK original even more. Maybe it’s the accents or the peep into UK culture that feels friendlier, homier, and more community connected than anything or anywhere in the States. On November 2nd, with the first two contestants voted off, I watched for the last time.
We cut the cord again. Today. Splitting Internet and TV between two different providers is too costly. I spend more money monthly on both services combined than goes to gas and electric. They’re necessary utilities, television is not. But the Internet most certainly is a necessity. I could keep AXS TV, and X Factor UK with it, by sticking with U-verse. Three customer retention specialists later, we couldn’t agree on a fair price for TV and reduced Internet (promised 45Mbps compared to 100Mbps from Cox). Restated: the cable company can’t get a connection into the living room without doing something that will offend our landlord (Ah, hum. Cox service used to work before a U-verse tech mucked with the wires years ago).
I had scheduled AT&T to restore Internet service before cancelling everything early this afternoon. Using Speedtest.net, I consistently get 120Mbps from Google OnHub connected to the Cox modem. Best tested speed directly from the U-verse modem: 20Mbps. Once—and the bar graph shows choppy connection. So cable stays and fiber/IPTV goes. Service cancelled, sometime before Midnight, U-verse will go dark.
My wife and I discussed keeping AT&T TV through the holidays, and I nearly did. But, frak, we live in San Diego. Get outside! I did the math. Using my last bill as guide, and rounding down, $63 for 100Mbps Internet and $113 for IPTV. For another $19.95 Cox FlexWatch gets us a HD Tuner for local channels, Encore, HBO, and Starz. We can’t use the cable box, because it would be in a different room than the telly. But 20 bucks for the three premiums, which we can use in apps on streaming boxes connected to the TV, is a good deal.
Add Hulu Plus commercial-free for $11.95 a month, and after tax we’ve got an attractive little entertainment package, when including Amazon Prime and Netflix—neither of which factor in the math because we pay for them regardless. Our previous cockeyed setup cost $176 and some change per month, or a few pennies short of $6 per day. The cord-cutter setup, when adding Hulu and tax is about $102 a month, or $3.40 a day. With the difference, we could rent 15 HD movies a month from Amazon or Google Play. Over-the-air broadcasts are free, and our indoor antenna pulls in four of the five network affiliates (no CW).
BTW, AT&T’s best offer to keep the service we had and add Internet was $161 and some change, after tax. I seriously considered this option, which is why the scheduled reactivation before the decision to cancel. The comparatively crappy downstream bandwidth sadly shows U-verse isn’t the right choice for us.
What compelled a decision today? A third Cox technician came here yesterday looking for a solution to the living room connection problem. He couldn’t find something short of reconstruction to get the cable in the living room. How frakked is that? We either took the promotion providing the three premiums or lose it. The offer was limited. We wanted that deal if giving up U-verse. The decision, if to be made, couldn’t wait through the holidays. I ultimately reduced the choice to either one or the other, but not both. The Internet matters more than the TV service.
I confess, and it’s embarrassing really, that I will truly miss X Factor UK. But I would miss fast, and more importantly reliable, Internet more.