What? Are we hippies or something? Living in the bush? Do we use one of those huge antennas mounted to our roof?
Well, no, not at all. Read on...
Well, no, not at all. Read on...
|We are free from a land connection!|
Eric and I had many reasons for changing from being a cable customer to a cord-cutter. By a cord-cutter, I am referring to a person who no longer relies on a cable (or cord) that is wired into the walls of their home for internet and television service. We used to be a cable customer as it was our only choice, but I was very frustrated with the service for many reasons. Poor quality television programs, poor customer service, the costs were too high and so on. We have talked to so many people who, like us, couldn't figure out another method.
We were trapped...
Trapped until last spring, when we were planning on moving out while our house was to be lifted. We knew our cable subscription would have to be cancelled at least temporarily as we had no cable hookup in our temporary quarters in our sailboat. We could not be without internet for several months as Eric works from home and almost all of his communications are online. Since I am a writer, obviously the yellow notepad was not going to cut it.
|Visiting Stonington, Maine|
Go back another few months and we made a decision to change our cell phone service provider from Verizon to T-Mobile. This decision was based mostly on the differences in charges, but also on their offers. As T-Mobile upgraded its quality of coverage in our area, first I made the switch and then finally Eric did. Why do I mention this? I will explain...
As the deadline for our house lift approached, the need to find a solution for internet and television access grew increasingly stronger. One day, I had the simple idea of just unplugging our cable connection and see if I could figure out how to use my smartphone as a hotspot instead of using our router that fed a signal from the cable box to our television. Plenty of websites explained how I could turn on the software already installed on my phone and broadcast a wireless signal to my laptop. Sure enough, it worked!
|Here you can see my settings page where the option for Mobile Hotspot is highlighted.|
I can hear all your voices clamoring as you argue with this method as using up way too much data, as data is so expensive. Well you are right. Data was expensive, so I had to compare the new option with the costs of paying for cable and phone. Well, the new option was just a little more expensive but I still did not have television. I was happy to know how the connection could work and freedom from cable was in sight!
I scoured T-Mobile's website on their plans, their data limits and charges, and found that they did have a plan for unlimited data. Yes! That was one limitation gone. Now what about television? I saw that I could use mirroring, which is basically using your television as a monitor for your phone. I could see on the television screen whatever was on the screen of my phone. We used that method for a week or so, but I was still not satisfied. At this point, we could also watch television on our computers using the phone as a hotspot. This in itself was awesome as we could travel anywhere and as long as our laptops could power up, we could access the internet. Once in a while, we would lose signal on our phones but that became more rare as T-Mobile kept increasing its coverage area.
|Time to cut the cable!|
I feel like this blog is a commercial for T-Mobile, but I am just trying to explain how we were able to successfully cut the cord and am not being compensated by T-Mobile.
So, anyhow, then we discovered that we could use Roku as a receptor for our mobile hotspot signal that would input to our television anything we wanted. We didn't need a router anymore.
Here is how it works for us: I turn on the hotspot on my phone under the settings - the first time you do this you will have to set up a password so that not everyone has access to your data plan.
I plug our Roku stick into the HDMI input on the back of the television and power it by plugging it into the USB input (you can also power it from a wall receptacle, but we didn't want another long cord.)
|Roku Stick plugged into HDMI slot|
Next, I turn on the television and go to Input. I click on the HDMI source that I plugged the Roku stick into and the television will begin broadcasting any channels we have subscribed to including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and so on. The Roku stick comes with a remote that I pair with our television so it will also control the power and volume. At home, we leave the Roku stick in place and so our television automatically opens to our Roku homepage.
|Powered by USB port|
This method works wherever we travel as well. We bring our Roku stick and remote with us for overnight stays. No more flicking through hundreds of hotel cable or dish television channels and putting up with stupid commercials.
|Our easy Roku remote|
Back to the data problem. The whole issue with unlimited data was that the small print in the phone companies' data plans always mentioned that after so many gigabytes, the speed would drop. Now that was not really that much of an issue as the Roku stick could buffer shows and then play them at regular speed. High definition was where we saw the problem.
|Eric working on the sailboat|
A few months went by and our sailboat stay was very successful. We had a midsize television mounted in the center of the boat and we had great phone reception so our internet service and television watching were almost seamless. When we moved back into our home and switched back to using a larger monitor, we were surprised to see the lack of definition.
Back to T-Mobile I went and found that their International Plan included not just unlimited data but also high speed and high definition and wait for it...anywhere we went in the world. (Well okay, some areas still don't have cell phone towers but for all intents and purposes, for everywhere we travel, it has worked, including Germany, France and Ireland.)
|Nice simple setup|
So now I have spilled the beans and our secret to freedom from the cable is no longer a secret. What a pleasure we have found in watching shows that we choose, without commercials, and can watch when ever and where ever we like!
And, oh yeah, the cost we now pay for our two smartphones, with unlimited data, high speed and high definition for television and internet is now less that we used to pay to our cable company and phone company combined!
For those curious folks, we pay $95 a month, that includes everything except for our actual phone leases (as of 9/2018.) How much data do we use? Last month - 267.42 GB, 941 phone minutes and 2688 text messages.
Now our next step is to get an even more efficient LED television monitor that has 4K capabilities so that we increase our quality of picture while decreasing our electric charge so that we can use solar to power our phones and television.
|It's nice to be free to travel and still be connected when we want. Here we are in Dingle, Ireland.|
Just last week, I read an article on how impossible and unrealistic it was to try to survive without a physical hookup for internet and television whether to cable or dish, and I had to chuckle to myself as we are living proof that you can be free from the dreaded cables.We certainly enjoy our setup and highly recommend you explore your options.
But wait! What about watching sports? Well, we are not sports fans, but have found whenever we need to watch something important like the Super Bowl, there are streaming channels available for us to use on Roku.
So...now back to our regular programming....