Two years ago, I discontinued my cable television subscription and canceled my home telephone service, both through my cable provider. I kept the cable Internet because it was the best available in town, but in total realized about $100 in savings a month. Honestly, I haven't missed cable television or my home phone.
For my home phone, I switched to a VOIP solution using a $40 OBi Telephone Adapter and Google Voice eliminating the monthly fees. At the time, keeping home phone service was important because my then mobile provider, AT&T, had unreliable coverage at my house. I switched to Verizon for cell service a year ago and while it's nice having a home phone, it's no longer a requirement. I wrote up my ObiTalk/Google Voice solution in depth here.
Replacing cable television was a bit more complicated, but still very doable. I've been using a combination of services, but most of my television comes through the use of an digital antenna connected to a TiVo. I'm able to pick up the major networks in my area which provides most of my programing and I supplement with online offerings as needed. While there were a few things I missed, namely cable news and few specialty channels, I found overall the experience to be freeing. David and I discussed my setup in on Mac Power Users Episode 62: Cutting The Cable.
So, why after all this did I resubscribe to a cable television subscription after two years of cord-cutting? A couple of reasons. First, I was starting to have a few problems with reception on my antenna. It wasn't bad, but there were more frequent stutters when watching certain channels. This was primarily due to the location of my antenna, which is located in the window of my guest bedroom so it can be oriented for optimal coverage. A number of community trees planted just off my property in direct line of the antenna have matured over the last two years and are causing reception problems as they've grown. Relocating the antenna (or cutting down the trees) would solve the problem, but neighborhood restrictions mean I'd have to install the antenna in my attic which would cost me about $300 by the time I pay for a new antenna and professional installation. Not a bad investment long-term, but it gave me pause. (Sorry, I don't do attic work.)
The other issue was really a matter of cost. I started seeing articles about "cord cutter" cable TV packages. This caused me to investigate further the offerings by my cable company, Cox. Digging deep on their website, I found they offered both "Starter" and "Economy" cable packages that aren't generally advertised. My primary goal was to keep my costs about the same as I was currently paying (about $65 after taxes for Internet alone) while not reducing Internet speeds. I found with bundling multiple services, I received a discount on both the Internet and TV portion of my bill making the cost of Internet + starter TV package was within a few dollars of my current bill for Internet alone with no reduction in service.
I'll admit, I feel like a bit of a sellout for reconnecting the cable. But it was a decision that made sense for me. Long-term I'll still enjoy cost savings by sticking with a low-tier package, and I'll also enjoy the convenience of not having to deal with antenna dropouts and placement issues. If you're a cord cutter, or thinking about becoming one for the cost savings, consider calling your cable company and see if they have one of these unadvertised packages.