Monday, September 29, 2014

Options for Internet without cable TV in our area?

Recently my house's cable and internet bill with Comcast has gotten extremely expensive, $250+. After hours of arguing with them over the phone, my housemate finally got them to cancel our subscription. Not a fun experience.

That means we need to find another option for Internet, ideally without cable TV -- mostly we watch Netflix and figure the rest of the things we'd like to watch would be streaming on Hulu, Roku or another service. Does anybody out there do something similar? What would you recommend?

We were thinking of getting a digital antenna to get local channels, then buying a Roku to watch other cable channels and things like Hulu. I'd like to have the NFL, Nats games, and college basketball, but that's not a dealbreaker.

As for internet, we were thinking of Verizon, since Comcast was driving my housemate insane and we don't want to give them any more money. But are there other options people would recommend? I've heard of Clear, which is Internet over 4G, but I'm not sure how good it is. I've also heard of smaller cable systems like RCN, which seems to be cheaper for just Internet, but I don't know anybody who has it, and their address check tool isn't working. It looks like DC Access, a local company, doesn't cover Columbia Heights.


  1. I use Verizon for phone & internet (they required me to get a landline), which now costs about $60/mo after all taxes, fees, and the end of any introductory promos I took advantage of. It works fairly well, and actually far better than the Comcast internet some friends pay for. I've had my frustrations with Verizon, but doesn't seem any worse than Comcast. If you can get Fios, that's probably even better.

    As for TV, I have a Roku and Chromecast (for my 2nd TV) and subscribe to Netflix and Hulu+, in addition to a digital antenna for local channels. For the most part I really like it, and don't anticipate returning to cable or satellite any time soon. The biggest downside is that sports games can be difficult, if that's important to you (I just go to a bar if I can't find it on local channels or a stream). Certain Bravo and VH1 reality shows can also be hard to find, but I figure I shouldn't watch that stuff anyway. Otherwise, I probably watch more TV now than I did with cable, so I haven't missed it.

  2. I have RCN internet and basic cable and have always been extremely happy with the company. I originally had their service in Boston, and was thrilled when it was available in my building on 16th St. when I moved back 2 years ago. Their customer service is leaps and bounds better than Comcast. They're usually willing to waive installation fees, and you can cancel anytime, so not much to lose if you want to test it out.

  3. We have Verizon Fios for our internet. We already had a landline phone so we're doing the Internet + Phone option.

    An internet only 25 mbps Fios plan goes for $60/month. Your actual upload/download speeds are never what they advertise. I think we got the 75 mbps plan and on average it clocks around 40 mbps. So I bet a 25mbps plan will realistically chug along at 10-12 mbps.

    I tried to get RCN but it doesn't serve a lot of DC, despite being a DC company! In fact they can service one side of a block but not the other. Go figure.

    Another word of advice from personal experience: Avoid EarthLink! They have terrible offshore customer service.

  4. Thanks for the comments all! Sounds like RCN won't do my house, which is too bad.

  5. I have Comcast for internet only. It was cheaper than Verizon, so I went with them. I bought my own modem so I don't have to rent one from them. My bill is under $50 a month.

    In our area, you can get a really good HD signal for local channels using just a pair of old fashioned rabbit ears. I bought one called RCA Basic Indoor Antenna from Amazon for $8. If you want something less obtrusive, the AmazonBasics Ultra-Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna works well, and is less than $20.

  6. I'm also in columbia heights and I have had an excellent experience with Verizon FiOS. I'm paying $69.99 a month for 75 up and 75 down (you just need to negotiate with them on the phone for a better price). I don't use cable, I just have the internet, and then I use HBO Go and Netflix and downloads for my tv / movie needs. Works beautifully.

  7. We moved here a year ago and got 75/75 for $60 /month (just internet, no tv). They just jacked it up to $90 /month though (I guess $60 was an introductory bundle or something).
    I'm steeling myself to call them up and haggle....

  8. We live in Mt. Pleasant and RCN doesn't cover us.

    I wanted to switch from Comcast to FiOS, but it just didn't make sense in the end.

    Now we pay $76 a month for 104 down / 25 up (we own our modem, so there are no rental fees).

    We stream video and use ESPN3 & subscriptions for sports.

    We skipped the AppleTV/RoKu/Chromecast and have a Mac Mini w/ an HDMI straight into the TV.

  9. I would go with cheapest internet from Comcast or Verizon, and then Chromecast / Apple TV / etc. From experience, I do not recommend Clear -- too slow!!

  10. RCN is the way to go in Col Hts. AND if they don't currently cover your house/apt, they are willing to do so - I've had them install the necessary equipment on 2 houses now in the area.

  11. I live in Columbia Heights on 15th street. I pay $29.99 a month for just internet. No promotional rates, blah blah, just $29.99 a month. Sounds like you live with multiple people. If you were the primary account holder for the comcast account, get someone else in the house to sign up as a "new customer." Also, if they ever raise the price, you need to threaten to cancel (based on the price, nothing else). Every time I've done this, they've dropped my bill by a lot.

    I use an antenna for local channels. This gets me local NFL, some nats games, Sunday night football (NBC), and now, thursday night football (CBS)

    For other NFL, my dad has a NFL Sunday Ticket account with the online access that I use on my computer (And then plug into my TV). They also have apps for mobile devices. IF you can't get it from someone else like I do, Sunday Ticket recently made juut sunday ticket (Without DirecTV) available in certain areas. For my apartment building, which doesn't allow satellite, I was able to get this if I wanted it. It is a fairly restricted service, but works in many apt buildings in DC because they dont allow satellite. You can put your address in and get details here to see if you're eligible:

    For college basketball.. i dunno, but something similar to what I explained above for sunday ticket should be possible. Otherwise, see below on ESPN 3

    I get Monday Night Football (and a majority of my college sports) through ESPN 3's website. You need some kind of cable or satellite connection for this (just the log in). Luckily. I have 3 different houses I know with cable or satellite connections (all family) - I use their log in for their cable account. I also use that same log in to get HBO Go Access. This does not hurt them at all and saves me money.

    From there, I have amazon prime, netflix, and Hulu Plus , either through friends splitting it with me or paying for it myself.

    I have a Roku and a ChromeCast which gets everything on to my TV.

    For anything else, it's bitorrent (not legal) or (online streaming - mostly not legal).

  12. Fyi, do not get VZN without fios. What they market as "high speed” is simply DSL, and runs about 12 mpbs, max.

  13. We use Clear. Not the basic option - the faster option. It costs about $20/month more than the basic $24.99 option. My issue is getting the wifi signal into the dead zones in this multi-story row house.


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