Cancel the Cable TV Mutiny

by Barrett

Do I need to hold onto my Cable TV provider just to watch Avatar again for the fifth time? I just might want to, but not to see Pandora. Instead, I’ll be looking for CableWiFi.

Do you love your cable service?

Do you happily write out your check to the cable company every month with the confidence that you’re getting your money’s worth?

Or are you secretly planning a mutiny to move your media consumption to the a-la-carte online world and save a chunk of money?

Before I continue, I need to offer up a disclaimer by saying I was once employed by the cable television industry. So let’s continue…

Time to Cut the Cord?
Yes… I imagine there are many of you out there who think about the specific content you consume on cable and wonder if you could just go out there and pay for it on the web via iTunes, Hulu Plus, or NetFlix. All that other bundled content and channels you never watch on cable…lose it! Break out the digital rabbit ears for live news and you are set!!

Possible?
That depends on what you’re watching, what additional hardware you want to buy to collect the content, how much sports you consume on cable that’s not available elsewhere, and how good the digital airwaves are by your television.

There have been some great articles on this-
pbs.org
nytimes.com
cnet.com

The Cable Paradox
And though a cable-free life does indeed seem to be a viable, more highly evolved step today in your media consumption strategy, there’s one problem.
All of the stories talk about how much a pain in the butt it is to cut the cord.

You’ve got to manage multiple platforms and technologies. And that takes some time and a lot of patience.

No one likes the cable company, but those cable barons sure do make it all so easy. You pick up the remote, move your thumb once, (maybe twice) and you’re watching your favorite show. So far, nothing beats that convenience.
I know. It’s a paradox.

And I think that’s still cable’s big selling point today. When things are working right, it’s so darn easy. We didn’t really understand that dynamic years ago before the web revolution, which face it, is still ‘kinda complicated’ on a day-to-day basis.
(Notice my blog isn’t called At Home with Cable.)

The Big Announcement
So I was pretty psyched when the cable industry announced this week at their big annual NCTA convention that five cable companies including Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast are going to start sharing their metro Wi-Fi services throughout the nation, calling it CableWiFi.

Wait a minute. I thought we were talking about cable television, and not their bundled home broadband Internet service.

Well, the cable industry has also been building up a value-added service to their Internet. It’s free roaming Wi-Fi hotspots for their subscribers who are out and about.

I first heard about it a year or so back from Cablevision, my cable provider, but honestly, it didn’t move the needle much for me, because I don’t hang out in my town during the day, as I normally commute into New York City.
(I think I used it once at Dunkin’ Donuts off of Route 1.)

Yes, there’s Wi-Fi on the train platform, but how long is that good for?
(If I make it to the platform with ninety seconds to spare,
I’m having a good day.)
But, if Wi-Fi were on Metro North trains all the way in, I would really dig it.

Anyway, I’ve got my all-you-can-eat legacy data service on my iPhone, which covers most of my email and web surfing needs while I’m mobile.

I think the big gain would come for my family’s Wi-Fi only iPad, which doesn’t travel as much with me, because it’s not connected.

Last weekend, I tried using the iPad on Amtrak’s Wi-Fi service on a trip up to Boston. And quite frankly, it was an amazingly frustrating experience. The connection was way too slow, even just to read simple stories. Nevertheless, the idea of using the iPad on the road really appeals to me. I just didn’t want to pony up for the cellular version with the monthly data service plan with AT&T.

Welcome to My Personal Hot Spot Network
So it’s about scale. If suddenly I had access to a whole bunch of healthy Hot Spots in other places where I actually might spend some time, other than Starbucks, then things would suddenly get a whole lot more interesting.
And we’re talking 50,000 free Hot Spots coast to coast.

I’ve previously talked about the fact that I’m a
mobile media-consuming warrior.
And I think there are more and more of us out there like that.

I once thought that my five-year-old 42” 720P Panasonic Plasma TV would age quickly, and I would quickly covet a 55” 1080P 3D model.
You know, not so much.

Anything that allows me to consume digital content more easily on the road is where my head is focused.

And today, it looks like the cable companies have taken a big step in that direction.
And there’s no additional cost!

Really?

I think I’ll call off the mutiny for another day…

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