Cutting the Cord, Part 1: Background

Well, we did it! After several months of discussion, research, angst, more discussion, phone calls, more discussion, more research, and finally a few necessary purchases, I am thrilled to report that we have become official cord-cutters. Or maybe you prefer the term "cable-disablers." Either way, we did it!  We called our (wonderful) telephone, Internet, and cable service provider (North State Communications... which began life years ago as North State Telephone Company) to let them know that it was time to say goodbye (well, not entirely...more on that later). And I thought it was time to blog about it.

Some background is needed. A long time ago (1975), in a galaxy far, far away (Jackson, Mississippi), I was intrigued by this new-fangled offer called "cable TV" when it became available to the apartment complex where I lived. I remember two distinctive things about those early days: the promise of commercial-free programming (doesn't that sound quaint?) and the arrival of HBO (movies! 24 hours a day!). Oh, and no rabbit-ears on my TV. Sign me up!

But when we married and moved to Memphis, we decided we could carve cable charges out of our newlywed budget and still be ok. Plus, that promise of "commercial-free programming?" Yeah...went the way of the dodo bird.

Through the years, we were rarely slaves to cable TV. We learned early on that we were better off without HBO (or any of the other premium movie channels for that matter) when 4-year old Missy M spouted a word that neither of us would have used in her presence...following a vacation stay at a Virginia hotel that offered HBO. Mr. T had simply been channel-surfing, as he is wont to do, alighting briefly on the HBO station at exactly the same time a character blurted out the offensive word...and apparently Little Miss Big-Ear-Pans (a name my own Daddy had often used) heard the word and decided she ought to file it away for use at another time. Like the next day when Mr. T was trying to park the car in the parking lot at Williamsburg and was cut off by some jerk who had to have that exact space. "He's a b*stard," says Missy M, matter-of-factly from the back seat. I thought Mr. T was going to choke, right then and there. "Where did you learn that, young lady?!?" says he. "On TV," says she. Out of the mouth of the babe, right? It was a cautionary tale that we used for years to explain why we didn't have cable. And we were fine with that, honestly.

Enter my mother...and the Atlanta Braves. When Nana/Momma/Edith came to live with us, she would say the hardest adjustment for her was that we didn't have cable (she had had it in Smithville, by necessity since it was so far from anywhere that reception was awful at best), and she missed her sports (read that: TBS, the cable superstation that carried the Braves games). So, when we moved to Atlanta in 1997 (and coincidentally when M went off to college), we broke down and signed a cable contract. (M uses this to illustrate what a deprived childhood she endured...having to grow up without cable TV. Right. Of course, to this day she is a devotee of Masterpiece on PBS...and she could probably still tell you how to get to Sesame Street, word for word!)

About this same time, another necessity had wormed its way into our lives to stay: the Internet. At first we satisfied the need with dial-up, and our initial service provider was none other than North State Telephone Company of High Point (circa 1994-97). But our move to the Atlanta area coincided with Mr. T's employment with Mitsubishi Fuso, which required him to have a home office. Initially, having a second line for a FAX machine was more important than a faster connection, but that changed when we bought our house in Dacula, GA, where both of us had home offices (I was working for Deloitte Consulting at the time), so we got a DSL as soon as they laid the line to our subdivision. Blazing speed, comparatively!

I'm not really certain of when we began getting our internet service from our cable provider, but in our move from MO back to High Point, we initially went with Time Warmer (who was the only game in town), until our little ol' telephone company laid fiber to our front door...bless 'em! So, for the past few years, we have been loyal North State customers...and honestly couldn't have been happier with the service...lightening fast speed, relatively few outages, and one bill to pay each month to cover telephone, "video service" (as they call cable TV), and Internet.

But what a large bill it was. Price, therefore, became another issue altogether, especially after we retired and began to look for places we could control our expenses.

We first decided we no longer needed a landline. It had been installed mainly because Mr. T still needed a FAX for his home office (although we had long ago done away with a second line for that)...and as of earlier this year, that was no longer necessary. Besides, the majority of calls we got on the house phone were telemarketers (yes, even though we are on the DO NOT CALL list) or, worse yet robo-calls...ah, the joy of living in a swing state during an election year. So, if you want to talk to us, call us on our mobile numbers!

Next came the most difficult part: what to do about television? Since we are not under a contract with North State (they don't HAVE contracts, bless 'em!), we decided to explore whether it would be possible to ditch the cable connection. 

In Cutting the Cord, Part 2: Taking the Plunge, I'll recap what we did. Stay tuned...


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