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Monday, July 18, 2011

The Cost of Connection

We live in a wired world…well, that’s a bit of a misnomer, because these days a lot of electronic data transfer doesn’t even use wires. But in any event, we’ve come a long way from the days when an extension phone in your house meant you were on the cutting edge of communications technology.

In our family, we have five people and five cell phones. Six, if you count the one my day job issued me. These phones are all on Verizon’s “Family Plan”, so we pay one bill for all of them. Even though it’s cheaper than having five separate accounts, we still pay almost $300 a month for our cell phone service.

And then there is FIOS. Verizon’s fiber optic system is wonderful, and we have their “triple play” bundle which gives us unlimited local and long distance from our land line phone, 30 MB/sec broadband internet, and high definition digital TV. We’ve got an HBO and Cinemax movie option on that, too. So we can talk to people, access tons of video in superb quality, and download stuff from the web in seconds (not to mention Second Life!). For this, we pay another $210 or so per month. Ouch!

We use the internet a lot, for SL and shopping, research, news, downloading new software, email, talking with friends on forums and all that modern “connectedness” stuff. We don’t use all those hundreds of TV channels all that much though…we watch some H&G TV shows, and the kids like House and a few anime shows. And it seems that the only time we use our land line phone is when some telemarketer or charity drive calls us.

The Resident Geek is building us a new home theater in the basement. One of the things he’s adding is a “home theater PC” with a built in digital tuner and a huge amount of disk space to store video. He says that once we have that, we can get rid of our set top boxes and save about $30 per month. We could save another $25 per month by dropping HBO and Cinemax (but then we wouldn’t get Game of Thrones, which I’ve been enjoying!)

That’s a start, but I’ve been thinking…can we still get all the connected-ness we need and want, at a lower price? What if we dropped the Verizon phone service and used Skype instead? What if we dropped the television service altogether and just streamed or downloaded content from the web? After all, it makes no sense to pay for 200 channels when you can only watch one or two at a time…IF you can get the content you want when you want it.

I resent the fact that our data bill, counting everything, is twice as much as our monthly electric bill (and we have an all-electric home!). I want to pay less – but I don’t know if we can be satisfied with anything less than immediate access to “all the data, all the time”.

1 comment:

  1. A good article. I am always trying to cut down on those costs too. Fortunately I don't watch TV very much, but my family does. :)

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