Is This the Ultimate Guide to Cutting the Cable Cord?

Another useful guide for those trying to cut viewing expenses by severing their connection to cable and satellite TV. Excellent tips all around and well worth the reading time.

by Joe Supan

The average American spends $107 per month on TV.

Whether it’s those high prices, the inflexible cable contracts or the gobs of channels you pay for but never watch, many viewers are now looking into cutting the cord.

Television providers shed 3.2 million subscribers in 2018 alone, a 4.2% loss — up from 3.7% in 2017 and 2% in 2016. And that’s not counting the millions of young people who’ve never had a cable bill.

The evidence says that people who’ve cut the cord don’t regret it, either. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, 76% of consumers are satisfied with their streaming services, compared with only 62% for TV providers, the lowest-rated industry in the report.

The bottom line: no matter what you want to watch, you can now get it without going through the cable companies. Here’s what you need for cutting the cord for good.

Quick tips

  • Make sure you’re getting high-speed internet. Most streaming services require at least 5 Mbps download speeds for HD streaming, and even more for live TV or 4K.
  • Choose a streaming device. Whether it’s a smart TV, gaming console or dedicated device like Roku or Fire TV, you’ll need a way to access streaming apps. 
  • Purchase a TV antenna. This old-school technology is a cord cutter’s best friend, delivering network TV live in HD for free.
  • Consider a live TV streaming service. These cable replacements let you stream live TV through the internet, without any contracts or hidden fees.
  • Sign up for on-demand streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. These typically cost around $10 per month, and let you stream movies and TV shows whenever you want. 
  • Check out some free streaming services. There are a number of services that provide thousands of movies and TV shows for free.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started

High-speed internet

If you cancel your cable or satellite TV service, your home internet connection is going to have to do a lot of heavy lifting. Streaming services and devices will depend on your home Wi-Fi to deliver your entertainment. If your network isn’t ready for that kind of activity, you’ll experience a lot of buffering and spotty performance. If it’s available in your area, we recommend switching to a fiber-optic or cable internet provider as these connection types historically offer faster speeds.

Every streaming service lists different internet speed requirements for seamless viewing, but the FCC recommends 5-8 Mbps for HD video and 25 Mbps for 4K. Keep in mind, though, that number will need to go up for every device that’s using the connection at one time. For example, if you’re streaming in 4K on two TVs simultaneously, you’ll need at least 50 Mbps.

Recommended speed for SD (Mbps) Recommended speed for HD (Mbps) Recommended speed for 4K (Mbps)
Netflix 3 5 25
Amazon Prime Video 0.9 3.5 15
Hulu 1.5 3 N/A
fubo TV 5 10 25
PlayStation Vue N/A 10 N/A
YouTube TV 3 13 N/A
Sling TV N/A 5 N/A

When evaluating the internet speed you need for cutting the cord, be sure to account for all internet-connected devices and activity in your household, including smart-home technology, mobile devices and casual browsing. The more users and devices that utilize your home Wi-Fi, the more bandwidth you’ll need to maintain a high-quality connection….

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