Our Frugal Internet

As a follow up on my post on how we manage to watch 95% of our must-see TV shows for $27.49 a month, I thought I would write a post on how we receive our internet since streaming is a crucial component of our TV watching.

A short while ago, I decided to take a close look at our Time Warner cable internet package. I am certainly not an expert on how the internet works and what kind of speeds are necessary to achieve certain objectives. What I do know is that we use the internet for basic surfing, email, and to stream a good portion of our weekly TV shows.

I had read that you need at least the “Basic” internet to stream. For those unfamiliar with Time Warner’s packages, the “Basic” internet is 6Mbps download/1Mbps upload. However, I had also read that as long as you don’t stream two devices at once and aren’t a serious gamer, you may be able to get away with the the 2Mbps download/1Mbps upload package that Time Warner Offers for $14.99 a month which they call their “Everyday Low Price” internet. You know, the one you used to see Bill Cowher promoting all the time.

Given my experiences with changing internet packages with Time Warner, I knew that it was a remote process that happens almost instantly. So, I decided to give the “Everyday Low Price” internet a try and if it didn’t work out, I’d switch back to the “Basic” internet.

We’ve now had the “Everyday Low Price” internet now for a few months and it has worked like a charm. In fact, most of the time we’re not even getting 2/1 speeds. I just tested our speeds today and we got about 1.2Mbps/0.5Mbps yet we were still streaming.

As a word of caution for those TV junkies out there, there may be a loss of definition at those speeds. I don’t notice any, but I am certainly not proficient in what real high definition should look like. We’ve been supremely happy with what we’ve been getting for such a low price. The “Basic” internet (6Mbps/1Mbps) is double the cost ($29.99) and that’s a promotional price which goes up after 12 months.

Be aware, that if (when?) you call to try out this package for yourself, you’ll be discouraged from making the change by the Time Warner agent. They have no interest in losing at least 50% of your monthly fee so they do try to hard sell you into keeping your current package. Stay firm and they eventually will make the change. What do you have to lose? Worst case is it doesn’t work for what you need and you switch back. Given that it’s a remote change, all you have to do is reset your modem after the call and all is well.

One other bit of advice that’s worth repeating is that you also should buy your own modem. Many people don’t even realize that they’re paying Time Warner $5.99 a month to rent one of theirs. We bought our Cisco model for less than $30 from Amazon (it was a refurbished unit) a few years ago. Just make sure that you read the Amazon reviews to ascertain whether or not it will be compatible with Time Warner. They have a short list of approved modems, but in reality many others not on this list will work fine.

Like I suggested with our “TV package,” I’m not at all implying that this will work for everyone. There are families out there that stream regularly to more than one TV at a time. There are others who spend hours gaming and need the required speed for that. What I am suggesting is that you take a close look at what speed you do need and maybe, just maybe, it’s a lot lower than you or the cable companies want you to think. Try it for yourself and with a little effort, you might just save yourself some real money without seeing an impact to what you use the internet for.

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