We recently decided to cancel our cable TV service. At $75/mo for what they consider BASIC service, it just wasn't a good value. We still have internet service through the cable company, and that product has been very good. After waiting for an hour on the phone to complete the cancellation, the high pressure sales guy I got transferred to at the 'disconnect desk' asked me what he could do to keep me as a customer. I said I'd like to pick which channels I wanted to pay for - I could rattle them off, but suffice to say there are definitely a few (even after the recent cancellation of the Food channel) that I wish I could tune into once in a while. He laughed and said "nobody offers an ala carte option!"
Exactly, so nobody is offering me what I want! I'll take nothing from you then, thanks. Undeterred, he pressed on. "Come on, there must be something I can do to get you to keep the service". "OK," I said, "I'd be willing to stay if you give me basic cable for $20/mo. He laughed. "We can't afford to do that!" OK, and I can't afford to pay $75 a month for a crappy product that keeps getting worse - $20 is all its worth to me. If you have nothing to offer, then disconnect it, thanks. I think the "I can't afford" was all he needed to hear - perhaps the magic words on his list that allowed him to close the case and be done with me, but I wasn't much longer to wait.
Seems there were a lot of other folks feeling the same way since it took almost a week for them to get a guy out to put a "video trap" on the line. Since cable is a "shared" service, they can't just cut it off for a specific customer. When you stop paying them, the analog signals still ride on the wire into your house. You have to turn in the digital set top box which descrambles some of the higher digital channels, but all the basic analog ones still come in and you can see them if your TV understands CATV signals. The poor cable guy has to climb the pole and physically attach a "trap" onto the wire which filters frequencies of 50 MHz to 550 MHz and makes TV reception appear pretty much like how TV used to look to folks like me who live on the "fringe" of reception (50+ miles from broadcast towers) with lots of white snow - though the audio seems to come in OK. Since the cable modem (for internet) uses frequencies of from 5 to 45 MHz outbound and between 600 and 850 MHz (or higher) inbound, the internet is unaffected by this. I ran a few speed tests of course, just to be sure.
Download Speed: 15285 kbps (1910.6 KB/sec transfer rate) Upload Speed: 2044 kbps (255.5 KB/sec transfer rate)
The estimated cost of sending a guy out to install this kind of filter is about $100, so you can be assured that our cable company knows that I know all this, and heck they'd make more than that off me in two months. Remember when TV was free and you had to pay for cable if you didn't want any commercials? Well now they charge you for the commercials! They're getting paid coming and going!
UPDATE JAN 20, 2010: I've split this story up! Click Here for my story about pulling in over the air HDTV.