Rhythm & Binary

Cable Bundles

So after my over the air antenna post I also wanted to follow up with some mild commentary on cable bundles.

In evaluating our current cable bundle I was surprised to find that if we dropped our television all together the price would be about the same. We currently have a bundle whereby we get TV with gigabit ethernet. We had been considering dropping the cable TV portion because we can stream everything. Also with the over the air antenna it made sense since we’d still get local channels.


We contact Verizon and the person on the chat online said that basically if we dropped the TV service but wanted to maintain the gigabit ethernet the price would be the same. I thought this was ridiculous until I looked into it further. Verizon Fios (as well as other cable providers) usually offer “bundles” where they give you services at supposedly good rates. In truth I’m not sure how good they are without doing price comparisons. However, I’m sure there’s a fair bit of marketing there and taking advantage of folks that are not as tech savvy. That being said, the convenience of cable is hard to beat and is therefore still why people like me are having this discussion and users of cable.

So back to the situation here. In a further analysis of our setup I decided to do some speed tests at our house to determine what kind of speed we were getting. And boy let me tell you….crazy. We’re supposed to get gigabit ethernet, but using ookala’s speed test site (http://beta.speedtest.net/) I found even with our new computers we were getting 80 mbps up and down. With gigabit! we were supposed to have like 980 or close to 1000 mbps! What’s the deal?

Let me tell you the deal. In order to achieve gigabit ethernet speeds and performance you also have to have the hardware to support. Basically you have to make your house a lab like you would have at college to do this. The reason being that not all hardware is configured to support. A lot of hardware (even just a few years old) is configured for older wireless and wired standards. The result is your devices performance is based largely on its capabilities of it’s NIC card (or other wireless or wired hardware). So basically you are only going to get what your device can do.

So what does this mean? In the case of our devices we opted to keep it with the thought that newer devices we buy will probably get better speeds. Also with our current “bundle” we were getting it as an option with what you could consider a “standard” cable package. So for us it wasn’t much of a compromise to keep it. Also, all things considered it is kinda cool to have. However, if we ever wanted to, we could drop to a lower 150 mbps package and basically get the same performance. There are a lot of cool articles that you can read up on for more info:

Overall, again as with any research this was a lot of good learning. I learned about how telco’s work and what options are out there. Also learned it is good to be slightly skeptical of the awesome “bundle packages” advertised. Overall though (as with any decision) the choice of service and “bundle” is a balance of convenience and taste. The “bundle” that worked for us might not work for you. There are pros and cons to all of them and is good to do your homework.