Why Not?

Life without cable or home phone service

It was January 2010, a few weeks before the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, my family made the decision to cut TV cable service. Two years later, we also cut the home phone service. We’ve been living without those services ever since.

This post is going to be mainly the story of my personal experience, how I replaced or compensated for those services.

A little bit of background

But before diving into the subject, a little bit of background. I live in the the Greater Montreal area, which is about 60km away from the Canada—United States border. Montreal has two main geographic features to know about, it’s an island and it has a 300 metre high hill, called Mount Royal, in the middle of the island.

For the home Internet service, I have a 25Mbps downstream and 10Mbps upstream DSL connection, with a 370GB usage cap. Most months, this is mostly enough as I stay at about 70% of usage.

Cutting ~~the cord~~ cable service

Back in 2010, when we cut our analogue cable service, we took the decision of going to 100% over-the-air television service. This means using a television antenna, with its pros and cons. As Canada was still in the process of transitioning to digital terrestrial television (DTV), it meant that I wouldn’t have access to some of the channels at the same level of quality that I had on my cable service. But I should have gotten some HD channels from the United States, mainly CBS and NBC, as well as Radio-Canada and CBC who broadcasted from their building in downtown Montreal. It was unfortunately not the case, as I lived in the shadow of Mount Royal, thus blocking the television signals. We were stuck pretty much with local analogue television service, with its snow showing up.

As time progressed, we moved to another part of the region, giving us access to some DTV channels. And on September 1st, 2011, when Canada finally turned off analogue broadcasting in major markets, I stopped getting any low quality television signals with snow on the screen, and I now live with high definition television shows, all of the either in 720p or 1080i.

Although I have less channels available, I’ve gotten used to getting most of what I have instead of surfing between them.

As far as movie watching goes, I rarely buy them anymore. If I do buy some, it will be either on a disc or directly on iTunes as they have a large collection of them, but usually I’ll just stream them from Netflix if they have what I wish to watch or simply to watch a random movie. The picture and sound quality is good enough that I don’t even notice it.

To catch on TV shows I may miss, and boy do I miss some of them, I will use the app provided by the station on my iPhone and AirPlay them directly to my television. Some of the shows I watch are on Netflix, but it’s mostly a rarity and I ignore them for that. The only TV network I use that doesn’t provide a working AirPlay-compatible application is CTV Go; to use their app through the Apple TV, I have to activate the AirPlay Mirroring functionality on my phone which shows all my received notifications on the screen and prohibits me from locking it.

To someone at CTV: Please fix your app. CBC does a relatively good job with theirs. I think you should have your developers speak to theirs.

Finally, for my sports, although I’m not huge watcher of them, I usually watch what’s on air, so it is mainly hockey, football and soccer, and the Olympic Games on CBC.

Call me ~~maybe~~ no more

As 2012 drew to a close, we also decided to cut the home phone service, as all of us relied on our mobile phone service anyway, and no one called directly on our home phone.

The transition from home phone to mobile didn’t go as smoothly as I wished, as our Internet service got cut a few days after the phone line disappeared.  When I called my service provider, I discovered that I had to call them to have a DSL dry-loop set up, even though it was the same provider. It took about a week getting back up online, but once it was working again, we never looked back.

Outside of that, I simply use the services provided by my mobile phone provider and I’m not yet looking at moving to Voice over IP services. I do call and receive a number of calls, but most of my communication is by text messages or email.