Business

Mitch Lipka | Consumer Alert

Cutting cable is no longer daunting

Q. I switched my television service from cable to Dish because of increased pricing. Then I started getting increases from Dish. I don’t need a DVR service and 128 channels. My question is to you where can I find an affordable television, Internet, and/or telephone company for a senior citizen to enjoy these services at home?

BARBARA PANTOS, WORCESTER

A. Increasingly, consumers confront the issues you have: paying high bills for bundles of TV channels they don’t want or services they don’t use.

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In most communities, only a couple of companies provide TV, Internet, and phone all bundled together. So, competition is thin. And in Worcester, fewer options are available than most other parts of the state.

That might not sound hopeful if you’re stuck on the idea of getting everything from the same place. But going a la carte and “cutting the cord” from the cable company (or its equivalent) is no longer novel. It might seem daunting at first, but plenty of people who have done it boast of saving money and getting TV on their terms.

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If you primarily watch network television, a one-time charge of about $10 to $75 will get you a small indoor antenna that will pick up over-the-air channels (more than you might think) in high-definition. If there are certain programs or networks that aren’t available over the air, you could buy a small device like Apple TV ($65), Roku ($50), or Chromecast ($35) and stream the programs you want from their offerings on the Internet.

Alternately, you could stream video over your computer or get an Internet-ready TV and skip having to hook up the computer. It might seem daunting because it’s different, but if you do a Web search on “cutting the cord,” you will find guides to creating a scenario that lowers costs and provides you with a more customized experience.

You could stick with what you have and check with the limited number of providers to see whether any better offers exist. Or visit an electronics store and ask to see the different services and you’ll get an idea whether “cutting the cord” is the answer to your dilemma. It has been for millions of other consumers.

Mitch Lipka has been helping consumers out of jams for the past two decades. He lives in Worcester and can be reached at consumernews@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @mitchlipka.
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