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Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

Cut The Cord, Save Money and Go Faster

January 15, 2012 22:12 by Andrew Westgarth

Towards the end of last year I started to think more and more about how I make use of digital television services, telephone (land line) and broadband. I considered my usage vs cost and was keen to work out whether I was getting value for money. This led me to decide to cut the cord and save money!

For the past 5 or so years I've had all of my services from one supplier, Sky. I had unlimited broadband (ADSL at approx 10 mb/s download), telephone (free evening and weekend calls) and Satellite television, I had all the channels available apart from Movies and Sports. I didn't go for movies as there's limited new content added each Friday and I didn't go for sports because I have a season ticket and if I want to see a match it's a great chance to catch up with friends at the pub. All in all my package was costing around £60 a month, quite a lot if it's not getting used to it's full.

When I reviewed my usage I found that with regards the telephone I hardly ever use it, I prefer to use the inclusive minutes on my mobile contract. Moving onto my television services, I regularly found very little on the approx 700 channels I was interested in watching and 90-95% of those shows which I did watch or record were available on a Freeview channel. Moving onto my broadband services I found them to be very reliable but slow! My local exchange was one of the very first outside of London to have fibre to cabinet services from BT made available, and despite Sky announcing trials for fibre optic broadband a couple of years ago nothing has progressed on that front, so I gave up waiting.

So out of the approx £60 I was not getting value for money. I can get Freeview direct from my TV and as mentioned I can use my mobile for telephone services. As for Broadband service, I've already maxed out what Sky were offering and I had to maintain the telephone to keep broadband with Sky. I looked at BT and they offered infinity up to 100MB for £35 a month but I had to have a phone line as well which takes the cost to £45 a month and includes a service I don't want.

Yesterday I called Sky and canceled all of my services and gave my reasons for canceling which were slow broadband speed, limited use for telephone and happiness with Freeview channels. Surprisingly the agents at Sky didn't even try to stop my cancelling and consequently the provision of their services will end in early February. I then applied for Virgin Media's Cable 50Mb/s Broadband service, selected no television services and no telephone line, made use of an excellent cashback offer via Quidco (if you don't use this service already - check it out now!) and my girlfriend referred Virgin Media to me so she gets money off her bill and I get free installation! I've paid a little more for the privilege of not having a telephone installed but I've controlled exactly what I have and am not paying for services I won't be using. There's also the added bonus that Virgin Media announced plans this week to double all broadband speeds of customers , so before long I'll have 100MB broadband. This is costing me £30 a month for three months and then £35 a month afterwards on a 12 month contract and compared with what I'm paying now I'll save £280 over the course of a year, quite a sizable chunk!

So I'll be relying on my internet connection more in future for media services. I've been really impressed with the media services on the recent Xbox 360 dashboard update which has 5 OnDemand, 4OD and soon to arrive BBC iPlayer. In addition I've started to evaluate LoveFilm and Netflix now they have arrived in the UK. Initial impressions of these services are that currently the LoveFilm catalogue is great if you want to use the traditional DVD/BluRay service however their streaming catalogue is limited - for a start it doesn't include TV, and recent films which I can rent on DVD/BluRay through the service are an additional cost when streamed?? Netflix has a good but old catalogue and is streaming only so I'm hoping that gets updated soon. At present I'm leaning towards sharing a subscription for LoveFilm with my girlfriend so we I can make us of the streaming and she can use the DVD service, and possibly Netflix dependent on how their catalogue develops.

I'm looking forward to finding out how my decision pans out, have I made the right choice? I've certainly initially saved myself some money and reallocated my spending. I believe this may also be the path others take in the future as we evaluate what we spend our money on. As internet provision and online services increase I feel the consumer will make services like Sky and Virgin Media work a lot harder for their money!

Comments (3) -

Allie

A very good move on your part! Virgin Media has always been very reliable. There is no contention ratio with fibre optic and it makes all the difference. Having moved into a none fiber optic area, speed is extremely painful! Will be keeping an eye out for BT infinity coming hopefully in the next year! Netflix UK seems to be adding new content everyday but as you say it lacks in recent films. Will be giving them a couple of months to see how it develops. Even on a slow connection, Netflix hasn't faulted yet, they are cheaper then LoveFilm (unlimited streaming £9.99) with Netflix £5.99. I haven't owned a Tv package in years and find streaming on demand the perfect solution and much cheaper! With high inflation and spending cuts, it's good to re-evaluate our spending now and again. By the way, if you still have your skybox and dish, I think you can subscribe to freesat and view it through your old sky gear. ;) A

Allie | January 16 2012 09:39

Roger Robinsons

Hey Westque the iplayer wont be coming to the Xbox unfortunately Frown

Microsoft want it to be part of the Gold package like 4OD and 5Demand, but the BBC say they cant add it to that as its a public service and therefore can not be part of a private subscription service.

I recently got an Xbox and new TV luckily my TV does iplayer. Does seem pretty trivial by both Microsoft and BBC. I cant see why Microsoft cant add it to the silver service my self.

Roger Robinsons | January 25 2012 11:59

Andrew Westgarth

Hi Roger,  long time!  Hope you're well?  The iPlayer will be coming to Xbox as far as I understand, in a press release (www.microsoft.com/.../10-05XBTVPR.mspx) just before Christmas the BBC element was announced by MS and the BBC also confirmed it (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16029825) - note BBC is identified as one which won't need Xbox Live Gold - and it is accepted it won't require gold membership but will required Xbox Live Silver (which is free).  The old stance on Gold dates back to 2009.  I can get iPlayer through my Blu-Ray device but look forward to it appearing on the Xbox

Andrew Westgarth | January 25 2012 13:55

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