The feasibility of cutting the cord by using IPTV

Part two of a two-part series on eliminating a home subscription to cable or satellite TV.

To continue exploring the feasibility of cord-cutting, the internet is a requirement. As I always say, if the gas, electric and water lines coming into your house enable you to go about your daily life, think of the internet as just another utility line that lets you take advantage of what the digital world has to offer. One of those digital-world benefits is the ability to receive live broadcasts of many premium TV channels over the internet, referred to as “IPTV.”

IPTV, or Internet Protocol television, simply means getting TV programming through the internet – aka “streaming.” This acronym makeup is similar to “VoIP” – Voice over Internet Protocol – which means making/receiving telephone calls through the internet.

The IPTV market is nascent but very fluid as the TV program distribution industry adapts to the disruption internet has caused in how we do things in our lives. IPTV services such as SlingTV, Playstation Vue, DirectTV Now, and others give consumers options such as a smaller packages of channels or even a la carte channel options – both of which typically result in monthly savings over cable and satellite TV subscriptions.

I strongly recommend testing out an IPTV service that matches your usage habits before you cancel your cable or satellite TV subscription since most IPTV services offer a trial period.

There are a couple of other things to watch out for while you explore the feasibility of cutting the cord. First, you may currently have “bundled” multiple services from the same provider (i.e. cable TV, telephone and/or internet). If so, you’ll need to figure out the pricing effect of lessening the number of services in a bundle or getting only internet services. Second, if you are in a contract, calculate any penalty assessed and annualize to get to a pro forma monthly cost if you cut the cord.

The actual process of testing an IPTV service entails connecting your SmartTV to your wireless router (or “residential gateway”). Each SmartTV is different so consult your manual or Google it for instructions. If you have a non-SmartTV, get a “streaming media device” such as Roku, FireTV, Apple TV or one of the off-brands offered online. Connect the streaming media device to the wireless router while connecting the other end to the available HDMI port on your TV. This essentially makes your DumbTV “smart.” Lastly, download the IPTV service’s “app” onto your SmartTV or streaming media device, register and test the IPTV service!

But what exactly are you testing? The service in general, such as image quality or if there are lags (called “buffering” where live programming stops frequently to wait for the images/sounds to synchronize). Keep in mind that buffering can be also caused by insufficient internet bandwidth, in which case you may need to subscribe to internet service at a higher tiering.

Only by going through this process will you know if cutting the cord is right for you financially and usability-wise!

Tak Sato

Strategist with over 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As co-founder and strategist for the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors through technology, and founder of geek with a heart with the service mark "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 9, Issue 15, Posted 9:28 AM, 08.01.2017