Go to any neighborhood social media group site and you’ll see posts from people asking how to cut the cable cord and go towards 100% streaming. You can definitely save money by cutting out cable TV from your bill and only subscribing to the Internet. However, to avoid buffering or a choppy picture, you need to make sure your home’s network is never the bottleneck in your streaming video pipeline. Here are 3 steps to follow if you are considering cancelling cable TV.
Step 1: Select the right plan from your Internet Service Provider.
You will want to subscribe to a plan that promises the right speed and data allowance for your needs. Netflix only requires 5MbPs of bandwidth for an HD stream and 25Mbps for 4K Ultra HD. This is a good starting point but don’t sell yourself short. Those are the requirements for just one device. It doesn’t account for multiple devices in your home using your bandwidth. Every smartphone, computer, smart TV, cable box, streaming stick and game console may be sending and receiving data at any given moment. That can put quite a burden on the bandwidth.
In addition, just because your service provider tells you that you get 50 or 250Mbps, that doesn’t mean that you get it all the time. The feed that runs to your home is shared by your neighbors so it can clog up from time to time when everyone is using it at the same time, which is pretty much every evening. You will probably get pretty close to the maximum bandwidth at 3:00 a.m. but not at 8:00 p.m. Fortunately for you, we live in one of the best areas in the country for bandwidth (notice all those data centers going up), so you have a better chance of getting good bandwidth speeds than many other people in other parts of Virginia and the rest of the country.
In addition to bandwidth received into the home, check on data caps and download limits. ISPs can cap usage of bandwidth based on the plan you have. So, if you are switching to 100% streaming, you will want to be sure that your cap is very high or unlimited (if available) and that you have no restrictions on downloads, so that you don’t max out early in the month. Your bandwidth won’t stop but it will slow down considerably.
Step 2: Equipment
Just because you have Internet coming to the house doesn’t mean that it gets through the house well. The modems/router that ISPs provide are not bad, but there are better ones on the market. Your ISP may even recommend better modems/routers. We use equipment from various manufacturers depending on the environment. Our preferred manufacturer is Ubiquiti Networks, an unknown name but a wonderful product.
In addition to a better modem/router, you might consider adding Access Points, a device that allows Wi-Fi devices to connect to a network. The AP usually connects to a router (via a wired network) as a standalone device, but it can also be an integral component of the router itself.
Step 3: Wire it
It will be some time, before Wi-Fi ever gets to the point that it is as good as hard wiring, maybe never. If you really want to get the most out of your streaming, get as close to the Internet Service Provider’s source as possible through cabling. Take a look at the devices that will stream the most and look into getting those hardwired. Combining hard wiring with good Wi-Fi equipment can tremendously boost your bandwidth. Stay away from Wi-Fi extenders, they are not always the best fix and sometimes make network performance worse.
Streaming Channel costs
Don’t forget to look at the cost of the channels that you want to stream. Hulu, Amazon, NetFlix, etc. all charge for their streaming services. If you want to stream all of them, it could end up costing as much as your cable cost you, so identify which one’s you really like and need and forego the others.
Cost vs. Benefit
The upfront cost to cut the cable can be a little pricey, but not paying monthly cable bills over time will definitely pay off in the long run. Consider these costs the same as you would any home improvement.