Welcome, For full disclosure, I receive no compensation for any product or service that I write about in the guide. Opinions expressed in this guide are mine alone. I will start out this “Cord Cutter Implementation Plan” with some questions that you should ask yourself and your family if you are deciding on canceling your cable. Later I will get to the devices that you might consider for your entertainment. Psychology There is a mindset with what you are contemplating. Most everyone wants to save money where they can. In order for you to be successful in your endeavor in cutting the cord, you must have the mentality and the fortitude to do it. I know it sounds strange, but almost all of you who are considering this decision are contemplating to cancel a “utility” that you have had all of your life. What was once part of your monthly utility bills has become quite the luxury expense in this day and age. My children will never know a world without the Internet, many of you do not know a world without cable television. This is a powerful psychological tool that the big cable providers have researched and use to their advantage. I can recall many years ago when our family decided to cancel cable and sign up with DirectTV, the retention specialists at Cablevision hammered home the premise that we would not be able to receive our local news channels. This can be a deterrent for some, it all depends on your outlook. We as subscribers think in terms of our family, our home, our monthly cable, electric, cell phone, water bill. The cable industry thinks in terms of multiples. Where as we see it as saving $120/mo, the mega corporations see trends, you and I are a statistic, one of many. Last year alone the cable industry was fired by over 1.7 million subscribers. Cable television at one time was relatively inexpensive, and gave the viewer a value for their dollar. Over the years cable rates have steadily gone up as competition was eliminated, mergers and acquisitions made the cable operators larger and more dominant in the entertainment landscape. If you have followed the news lately, Comcast wants to buy out Time Warner Cable. This will only create less competition and less choice for subscribers. In recent years there have been many instances where the cable providers have been denied access to various channels in bitter contract disputes. In the end, when these disputes are settled, the cable subscriber always ends up paying more for the same level of service. I recall not long ago when you could subscribe for the “basic” cable package, and not spend more than $15/mo. Those days are gone. I believe it is important to find your motivation for firing your cable provider. It's Not For Everyone I consider cord cutting a lifestyle choice. It really is different than having cable with all the channels, tiers, packages, that they offer. I am a firm believer that cord cutting is not for everyone, once you make the decision to do this, you should try to not go back to the “if we still had cable” way of thinking, or your adventure in cord cutting will be a short one. Adding shows and movies to your “queue” is quite different than channel surfing. Once you get use to it, it is second nature. I can tell you from experience that when you cut the cord, and tell others about what you did, you will get some strange looks from friends and family. It has been 5 years for me, in the beginning I would get those strange looks from people and the inevitable question, “how do you watch TV?” Those days are gone, and now when I tell people what I do, I get the new questions that are more curiosity based on what modes of entertainment to do I watch. This leads me to believe that more people are thinking about doing it, they are just not ready to pull the trigger. Which is most likely where you are right now. Negatives? There is one negative aspect with cord cutting that I deal with from time to time. I find it almost impossible to watch television with commercials. If I go over to friends houses, and commercials come on, I have a difficult time dealing with them. I have been watching what I want, when I want, with no commercials for 5 years, I am use to it, and I like it. I was big football viewer. The sheer amount of commercials have made it nearly unwatchable, and quite frankly, I do not miss it, I have found better things to do than sit passively watching football. The only other negative that comes to cord cutting for me, and I have a hard time quantifying this as a negative, is the lack of “local news”. Have you tried to watch local news lately? This is my prejudice, but it seems that local news is more of a promotional tool for the networks than anything else. The other day, the local ABC stations “news” was that “Dancing with the Stars” was premiering that night. Our local affiliate spent 7 minutes on this topic. There are 21 minutes in the broadcast. In this day and age when every penny seems much more important than it did a decade ago, you can save over $1,200 per year, by canceling cable, and choosing an alternate mode of television viewing. That's not chump change. Questions Anyone? What is your reason for cutting the cord, or for not cutting it? You want to save money? Are you sick and tired of paying for 130 channels, and you only watch a handful? You want to try something new? You find that you and your family are passively watching television and are “couch potatoes?” You “channel surf” through all the stations, and there is NOTHING ON? You find yourself beholden to TV viewing because you pay $140/mo, and you have to get your money's worth? Are you sick and tired of all the commercials? Do you want to spend more time doing hobbies, reading, talking, sports, and the television gets in the way? What if a “big event” happens, you will not have “live” access? You might feel left out? Maybe, instead of coming home from work or school, you want to connect with you kids, spouse, instead of sitting in front of the television? If your goal is to watch the same programs without cable, that will not happen. For most people who have made the choice to drop cable, this has already been thought through by them, but maybe, not by the whole family. One hurdle that is easily overcome is the old “what about the kids, what will they watch?” This question can be more of a family dynamic situation. I faced this one years ago. If the main reason to keep cable is so your kids can watch more television, then there are some deeper issues that your family should think about. There is some tremendous programming for children on Netflix, Amazon Prime, AppleTV, and Chromecast Apps. Bundles or the Triple Play How much are you spending every month on just the cable television side of the equation. Many people have “bundled” their services, Internet, cable, and phone into a package that can be very costly. If you choose to get rid of cable, you also might want to ditch the home phone too. I noticed that the only time that our family was using the home phone was when telemarketers called. Does this happen to you? The next time you are watching television with commercials, notice the *(asterisks) that apply to most products and services. The cable companies always use the “ 12 month” introductory price as the hook. I can recall the Cablevision salesman using the $99/mo for the first year sales pitch. After the first year, that went up to $170. These bundles appear to save you money, but in the long run are you getting value for your hard earned dollars? Ask yourself: Do your cell phones provide coverage at home? How much does the Internet and phone cost? Are there data caps on your Internet? How often do you use your home phone? How many channels do you watch versus all that you pay for? They Can Put a Man on the Moon? And they cant.... For year I have pondered that question. For many years technology has advanced so far, and yet the cable companies tell us that it is impossible for an “a la carte” menu option for subscribers. Their argument is based on the fact that if WE only paid for channels we want to watch, then it would more expensive. How about trying that option and see what happens? They will not do it, because they receive huge amounts of cash based on subscribers. How would you feel if you went to the movies and has to pay for tickets to all the movies when you only want to see one? The Roku and other devices have proven that this menu option is not only easy to provide, but it is what the people want. There are many mainstream channels that want to create their “channel app” but they are help at bay through legacy contracts with the cable providers. HBO GO recently created their own app, BUT, they still require you to have a paid HBO cable subscription. The days are numbered for these legacy deals. It will not be long before you and I can subscribe to watch 'Homeland” for instance. I will gladly subscribe and pay for that show, I do not want to subscribe to Showtime. The future will not be stopped. As more people cut the cord, the cable companies, many of which are also your Internet provider are implementing data caps on Internet usage. The tell us that they are doing this because of “bandwidth hogs”, the very small fraction of internet users who download and upload immense amounts of data. These hogs are statistically less than 1% of users. No, these ISP's are attempting to penalize the people that are streaming content that they once saw through their cable box, its that simple. They are losing on the cable side, and they are very aware that their old customers are viewing entertainment on the internet. One way or another their greed shines through. The psychology of being “different” and trying something new can be frightening. I have had friends who tried going without cable, and were not successful. They could not get along for any length of time without the comfort of watching their shows. What they did do in the end, was to cut back on the tiers and packages, and spend far less each month. On the flip side, the vast library of television show, movies, documentaries on Netflix is in my view, outstanding, the value you get for $8.99/mo in my view, cannot be beat. I was a huge baseball and football TV viewer. In the beginning I missed it some, but I can honestly say that I do not miss it one bit, I have found other things to do during that time. It really is amazing how the mind can compensate, and find other avenues to entertain, rather than to sit passively in front of a television. DEVICES I will try to assist you in finding the right device for you. Please remember that what ever you choose, if you do not like it, take it back, try something else. There is one device you will absolutely need, a wireless router. There are so many on the market, I cannot go into detail on them all. If you go to Amazon.com or PC Magazine , or talk to family members or friends, you should find the wireless modem that is best for your needs. Quick Tip- Even though you are getting a “wireless” router, a network cable from the router will give you the best connection with a Roku. (personal experience) Linksys Router (personal preference) There is one device that is overlooked at times. The cable companies have been bundling modems and routers into one device. You are being charged a rental fee for that device. Comcast charges users a fee of $7/mo for the modem/router. All you need is to buy a router, that can cost anywhere from $30-$60 and you are all set. These routers are very easy to set up with a password, and all members of the family can be connected to the Internet, with no monthly rental cost. Roku Here are a few choices for alternate TV viewing. The one device that I am most familiar with is the Roku streaming device. Depending on where you purchase your Roku you can expect to pay $50 for Roku 2 and $80 for the new Roku 3. The Roku 3 has a Youtube channel built in. What you may not know is that Youtube has a tremendous amount of movies, television shows, and my favorite, documentary films. Check out the www.roku.com website for all the details. This is my main entertainment viewing device. When I cut the cord 5 years ago there was not a big selection of channels, the choices have grown exponentially over the years. There are many channels that you can subscribe to for anything you want to see. I have subscribed to only one pay network, Netflix. I am a big fan of podcasts, both video and audio. You can subscribe for free to the following, this is but a small sample. TWIT Roku 2 Streaming Device Roku Newscaster Nowhere TV TED Pandora (Internet Radio) History Channel A&E PBS Flixter Crackle Lifetime NBC News Smithsonian Channel Internet Archive This small sample of the available free channels will get you started. Once you get started, the “Channel Store” menu will show you many more. It might take you a while to find the entertainment that you desire, but it is so worth it. The third one on the list is Nowhere TV, is an aggregation of channels. There are literally hundreds of channels to choose from within that channel. The is also a great Roku Private Channel listing, something for everyone. There are more “mainstream” networks adding channels to Roku. To be honest, these are teases in some regard. They do offer some “full shows” but I have found them to be more of a promotional tool than anything else. Once you get into the channel, you can watch all programming as long as you are a cable subscriber and enter you email address attached to your cable account. Believe you me, the heads of all these networks know where the future is heading. They are hanging on to the old model as long as they can. Just last year cable television lost 1,734,521 subscribers. Most televisions now are built with Internet connectivity and some have Netflix pre-packaged as an option. There is a phrase a friend of mine used when first confronted with a Roku, and the channels, 'I can't be bothered to learn how to watch television.” Most people want to pick up the remote, surf through the channels and find their shows. You are paying a lot of money each month for that I could agree, except that with a few minutes of navigating a menu, you are saving over $130/month for the ease of use. One thing I have learned from being in this great cord cutter forum, and the subreddit for cordcutters is that there are so many smart people who have garnered together a system of entertainment that works for them. Whatever method you choose, I believe it is better than paying the outrageous cable bills that are continually going up. I do not begrudge anyone from making a profit in business, but when these cable providers are making 95% profit on your monthly bill, and not upgrading their infrastructure to basic standards, then thats when I say, enough! I can most likely save at least $20/mo right off the bat. All you have to do is call your cable provider and tell them you want to cancel. Their “retention” specialists will make you a deal to keep you. Try it. The choice for many is of course Netflix. There are many pro's and some cons to Netflix. If you want to watch “new” programs, then Netflix is not for you. But, If you would like a vast library of programming for the whole family, then you will not find a better mode of entertainment choices. There is something for everyone on Netflix, especially for kids. Unless you live in a vacuum you are aware of Netflix. It has grown over the years, and now they produce their own award winning programming, House of Cards with Kevin Spacey and Orange is the New Black, just to name a couple. They have over 38 million subscribers and not by accident. Apple TV The Apple TV device as also a great way to stream entertainment. The Apple streaming device is similar to Roku, it has the ability to stream entertainment, and a huge plus is the connectivity to the Itunes library of movies, music, and television shows. The Apple TV device will cost you $99 to get started. The vast list of Airplay apps is quite nice, you can check them out . For many people staying in the Apple ecosystem is the reason for choosing Apple TV. I truly believe that you cannot go wrong with Roku or Apple. I personally have Ipods, and an Ipad, but I also chose the Roku device. The Apple environment is fantastic for some, and I would suggest you might try this. If you are not a fan of Apple, there are many other choices. Chromecast Google came out with their own set to box in the form and function of Chromecast. This little device plugs directly into the HDMI port on your television, and is very easy to use. This is based on Android operating system. Chromecast is adding new channels all the time. The main feature right now is Youtube, and that is a powerful one. Google Play offers movies and television shows at their store. You can pick up a Chromecast device for $25 to $35 from Best Buy, Amazon or the Google Play store. OTA Antenna There is also the OTA(Over the Air) digital antenna. Like anything else, there are many to choose from. Unfortunately, I live in an area where I get almost no reception with the antenna. I have heard some glowing reports on some antennas that work well, and some are very cheap. You get what you pay for. If this is of interest to you, I would suggest go to Amazon, find some that have great user reviews, try it out, and see if it works for you, it can always be returned. These antennas can get you the local programming in your area. Laptops or PC's I have a spare laptop that has a HDMI port. I have this plugged into my television, so basically anything on the internet is on my television. There are so many movies, shows, docs, on youtube, vimeo, and other websites, that there is almost no need to pay for any subscriptions including Netflix. The monthly $8.99 I pay for Netflix is a great value, and has so much to offer. If you have a similar laptop, I would suggest you try this set up, it just may surprise you how much value you can get from this type of set up. You can go to www.monoprice.com for inexpensive HDMI cables. Amazon I just read this morning that Amazon.com is entering the set top box market next month. Their Amazon Prime account has many movies, television shows, documentaries to watch. Their Prime account recently went from $79 to $99/year. This includes 2 day shipping as well as the entertainment package. I was an Amazon Prime subscriber last year and found a lot of great programming. If you buy a lot from Amazon, I would suggest that you look into this option. The Amazon Prime Channel is available on the Roku. TRAPS There are a few traps you can fall into even if you cut the cord. If you start to subscribe to all the alternative Internet channels then you are paying almost as much as if you had cable. For instance, Netflix at $8.99/mo, Hulu Plus at $9.99/mo, USTVNOW at $20/mo and there are many others, will start to put the pinch in the wallet, and put you back in same system of paying through the nose for entertainment. Recently DISH has implemented an Internet based lower tier price structure that they are promoting as an alternative to cable. It sounds great, but the bottom line is that they want you to subscribe to more and more tiers. Soon you will be back in the cable pricing system. For many, myself included, saving money and not seeing commercials is the motivation and desire for cord cutting. What are the trends? If you follow the news you see that there are more and more options to cable television. Even the big cable operators are offering their own video on demand service, at an extra fee, of course. As the next generation of homeowners leave the roost, and buy their own homes, many of them are bypassing the old model of cable television and opting for internet only viewing. Internet only television is the future. The cable companies hire smart people, and they are going to capitalize on this trend. Internet bandwidth caps, multi tiered internet speed packages, sponsored internet is the way of the future. Just recently, ATT is dipping their toe into sponsored internet for mobile. Many years ago I found a graphic on the Internet that purported to be the “future”, it was supposed to be a parody, sadly this has become somewhat prophetic, and will probably be the way of the future. Carrot or Stick? There is a user on Reddit Cord Cutters sub reddit who used an interesting carrot to convince his wife to get rid of cable. He told her that over the course of a year, they would take money they saved, he would treat her to a vacation. At the end of one year, they want to Hawaii. Sometimes the carrot does work, much more fun than the stick. I think that it is a terrible world where people who are struggling to get by, cannot afford even basic cable. Conclusions Recommendations Ideas. If an adventure in cord cutting is something you think you want to try, then you might want to test the water slowly, or just dive in. Depending on your family situation or your reliance on cable television, try this, do your research, and find out what type of set top box you think will be right for your family. I don't think you can go wrong with either a Roku 2 or 3, an AppleTV, or Chromecast. There are so many Android set top boxes that seem to crop up from month to month, that I cannot suggest one. During this month, keep your cable television and sign up for a free month of Netflix. Learn what capabilities your device has to offer, and slowly try to ween yourself off the cable box. The Roku has many channels to keep you busy. You can go to the Roku website and see the vast selection of channels you can get for free, and add them to your menu. You could also sign up for Hulu Plus. I personally do not like Hulu. Hulu Plus makes you pay, and they have commercials. Some people swear by Hulu Plus, I am not one of them. During this month, make an attempt to explore all that your set top box has to offer. There are some apps that work with the Roku that allow you to see your picture library from your pc on the television. You can also play music and videos right from your Itunes library. You can make your Ipod/Ipad/Iphone a remote for your Roku. The addition of Youtube to the Roku 3 has made this very popular. I know you can do it, even if you try and go back to cable, the water has been tested, and some day you might find the right device for you. If you have any questions, comments or tips, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.