Weighing The Different TV And Internet Options

We’ll be moving into our new house in a few weeks, and one of the key impending decisions for us is:  what to do about TV and internet coverage?

At our old house we went with cable-based service provided by Time Warner.  Our TV and internet coverage was generally reliable, but it was expensive and we really grew to dislike — actually, “hate” is more accurate — Time Warner and its employees’ collective attitude about customer service.  They seemed to revel in making us jump through stupid hoops for no apparent reason.  We won’t go back to TW because we know we’ll just end up infuriated.  WOW is the other cable provider in Columbus, but its on-line reviews seem extremely mixed — it’s great or it’s awful, with not much in between.

IMG_4686The second option is a satellite service.  Our new house already has a dish on the roof.  I think it for DirecTV, but I haven’t paid attention because I don’t like the idea of a dish on my roof.  Now I think it needs to be considered as an alternative.  However, satellite services seem to only provide TV and “partner” with another company to offer internet — which just means, apparently, that we’ll have to deal with two providers rather than one.

A third option is AT&T U-Verse “internet TV,” which would provide one-stop internet and TV.  The house we’re staying in now has it and we haven’t had any service problems, but the TV offerings are limited and don’t include some of the “basic cable” channels that we’ve come to like, such as the Big Ten Network.  Of course, that may just be a matter of getting a different package.  The more high-end TV channels, too, aren’t simple to get to and involve juggling multiple remotes.

And the final option is:  only internet service and no TV.  Since we’ve been at this house, I’ve gone for days without watching any TV.  We’ve got friends who’ve forsaken TV and seem perfectly content.  Maybe that’s an option — but I think we’d regret it when the next seasons of Game of Thrones and The Leftovers start and I want to watch a football game.

We want to make an informed decision in selecting among a confusing array of choices.  I’d be very interested in any thoughts on these options, and particularly in personal experiences with WOW, DirecTV or Dish, and AT&T U-Verse.

Cable Companies Come, Cable Companies Go

News reports state that Comcast plans to buy Time Warner Cable. If the deal goes through, the new, combined company would control about 75 percent of the cable television market in the United States.

IMG_1771I should care about this, I guess, because Time Warner Cable is our cable provider. I had to check to confirm that, because our cable provider was a company called Insight Communications. I know this because our remote control has the Insight name on it. But sometime in 2012, Time Warner bought Insight Communications, and the contract with the Webner household went along with it. I’m pretty sure that we’ve had other cable providers, too, before Insight.

When these corporate acquisitions occur, companies typically run TV commercials that say something like “Slackjaw Communications is now Birdseed One!” The ads have to use an exclamation point, because otherwise viewers might just shrug their shoulders and miss the point that this is tremendously exciting, groundbreaking news. Usually the ads also promise that we’ll be amazed by the change and the news services we’ll receive. Then months pass, nothing changes, and we’ve still got the same old remote control unit we had under the old company.

If the Comcast purchase of Time Warner Cable goes through, we’ll see a new set of those exclamation point ads. For us, though, cable service is almost like a utility. Whether it’s Comcast or Time Warner Cable or Insight Communications or Birdseed One, we just want to have our high-speed internet without interruption and make sure that HBO and basic cable are available on our TV set. I’ll start caring about the name of the company that supplies these basic services if they start screwing up.