Why we never cut the cord.

I declared victory over the need to get a cable box in the new apartment in this post from a few months back. You might be among the dozens of folks who’ve been asking me about what happened since then.

Turns out, it’s not as easy as you might think to totally cut the cord. Matt Burns knows. His write-up for TechCrunch perfectly sums up my experience.

I’m not against cable, in principle. When we lived in Eagleville, we had outstanding service from Verizon FiOS. All my friends warned me that I’d have problems getting set up with cable once I moved into Center City Philadelphia. Verizon may have won the ability to start stringing fiber optic cable everywhere, but large buildings are exclusively wired for Comcast and no manager or landlord we spoke with during the apartment hunt had any inclination to let another provider run cable all over their building.

So, here’s how my plan fell apart, piece by piece:

  • Clear wasn’t so clear, after all. A few weeks before the move, I stopped into the company-owned Clear store closest to our new place. The manager was awesome and honest: “I won’t sell you this.” Wuh-huh? “Seriously, it’s so popular in this neighborhood, I would feel bad selling this to you because we’re so oversubscribed. I can sell you an on-the-go unit, but not one you’ll want to use in your home. Come see me again in about six months and we’ll see where things stand.”
  • Food Network. I don’t get to watch very much television, but Lori and I do love to chill out to the Food Network. It figures that this is the one channel that doesn’t make their shows available anywhere online: no Hulu, no iTunes, no Netflix. If you want to watch Food Network online, you can watch carved-up little clips on their website or little chunklet podcasts.
  • Center City HD signal is awful. I had played with some gear from Elgato and Equinux to ensure that we could get some good reception in the apartment. It worked just fine in Eagleville, but I discovered the hard way that living in the shadow of Liberty Place means that hulking skyscraper is standing between me and my OTA reception.
  • Boardwalk Empire. No explanation necessary.

So, we ended up with the new Xfinity DVR in the apartment because our installer had no idea how to get our Moxi up and running on their network. Our installer also needed me to walk him through the cable modem setup, but that’s another story.

At least the Comcast rep I spoke with was eager to tell his supervisor that I was switching from FiOS. He hooked us up with about $100 a month in discounts.

Discuss this post with me on my Google+ page.


Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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