Cutting the Cable

51-Untruths-From-TelevisionWe finally did it.  We got rid of cable TV.  Talk about full circle.  I remember as a young man when cable was the thing to have.  Dozens and dozens of channels with perfect reception on each.  Living in the city, it seemed the smart thing to do.  Especially when it is bundled with high speed internet and telephone service.

But we were paying a crazy amount each month.  And for a couple of months we had chronic problems that no one seemed to be able to repair. Having been a cable TV tech myself many moons ago, I suggested that the problem was weak signal and probably originated outside of our apartment.  About the 4th tech to visit figured this out and installed an amplifier that fixed the problem.  So we now had our nice flat screen TVs and perfect cable.  400 channels.  395 if which I never watched.  Seemed to be a waste.  But how else would we get the programming that we liked?

Then I started hearing my friends talk about getting rid of cable and going to services like Amazon prime. My buddy Leonard told me how he got 20 or 30 HDTV channels out of the air with an antenna.  So we got Amazon.  I bought an antenna.  Then my daughter and son-in-law got us a Blue Ray player that turned our TV into a Smart TV.  I could get Amazon Prime, You Tube, Hulu and other services on the TV. The picture that I got for the off-the-air channels were actually sharper than on cable, because cable compresses the signal to squeeze more channels on.

Donna called the cable company and a guy came out to switch our service to Internet and phone only.  But we would still get and pay for cable until I returned the cable boxes and modem.  Really?  The guy who installed the new modem couldn’t take it with him?  I was not looking forward to waiting in the long line at the Xfinity office, but I was also not about to pay for cable any longer.

When I got to the Xfinity office I was in for a surprise.  They had redone the place since I had last been there.  A nice lady greeted me and helped me get a number.  I waited less than 10 minutes to talk to an agent.  Then the fun began. He asked if I was using my own cable box.

“No,” I said, “a guy came out and installed a new one.”

“I don’t see any of that here.”

I started to get a little impatient as he grilled me with questions to try to find my account. I still cannot understand why it would not just be listed under my name.  It got worked out after I called home and got information from my wife. But I was still a bit miffed that I had to return the boxes and explain the service that I was getting. It was more difficult getting rid of the blasted cable than it was to get it.

Anyway, it is gone now and we don’t miss it.  There will be a bit of a change. We have to push a few more buttons on the remote to switch between services.  And since we no longer have on demand, if I miss a program on, say, CBS, I’ll just have to wait for re-runs or when it comes out on DVD (CBS has a streaming service, but we’d have to pay for it).

So it has come full circle.  The bottom line is, we are watching less TV than before.

And that is probably a good thing.