Are you a good candidate for cord-cutting?

At SolidSignal.com, we’re here to serve you. It doesn’t matter if you subscribe to cable, satellite, use an antenna, or simply stream everything. We want to be your one-stop shop for every possible technical doodad and geegaw you need to make the experience you want even better. Sometimes, though, our DIRECTV and DISH customers come to us asking if they should cut the cord and go antenna-only. It’s tough for us to answer, because we’re DISH and DIRECTV dealers and we’d hate to lose a customer. But we also sell a lot of antennas and we’re happy to help people go that direction as well. So if you think you want to be a cord-cutter and shred that cable bill… let’s take a look and see if you are a good candidate. Here are the questions you should be asking.

Are you in range of local broadcast stations?

Almost all of the top rated shows are on free TV, but if you aren’t close enough to the broadcast towers, no antenna will help you. We have a free service to help people find the right antenna. Give us a try and see what the correct antenna would cost you.

If you need an outdoor antenna, can you put one up?
If you are in a suburban or rural area you may need an outdoor antenna. Almost all antennas under 3′ x 3′ in size may be used in a private area like a balcony, and your HOA can’t tell you otherwise. However, if you need an antenna larger than that and have no place to put one, you could be in trouble.

Is your internet fast enough for streaming?

If you’re planning to cut the cord you will at some point or other want to stream programming over the internet. You will need a connection that’s 50Mbps or faster even in the early evening hours when your neighbors are using their internet connections the most. Even a 4K stream only needs about 25Mbps. But you have to assume you’re not the only one in the house using the internet.

Test your internet speed with a reliable web site several times at several different times of day to be sure.

Think about the loss of convenience.

Generally when you cut the cord you lose a centralized guide and DVR functions. Over the years several manufacturers have come and gone offering over-the-air DVRs. It’s not like it’s a really hard thing to do technologically. The problem is cost. It’s hard to compete with cable and satellite companies who offer free DVRs when you sign up. If you’re going antenna-only, you might lose the ability to pause live TV. That may not be a problem for you. If you’re pairing an antenna with a streaming service like Hulu, you’re probably only using the antenna for truly live stuff anyway and watching Hulu for stuff you used to watch on your DVR.

Think about your likely monthly costs.

Unless you’re really going hard-core and just living with that antenna you’re probably going to rely on streaming services to take up the slack. It’s pretty easy to get up to $50/month by combining streaming services into a custom package. This is more true than ever because there are so many different options. You’ll have to choose the ones that make sense to you. If you’re just limiting yourself to the most common ones (Netflix and Hulu) you’re out over $20 a month. Adding premiums, plus CBS and Disney could bump that over $50 a month. Of course that’s still less than you’ll pay for most cable subscriptions. It’s just not free, and that’s what cord-cutting promises you.

Is it for you?

Cord-cutting is definitely a great choice for some and there has never been a better time to do it, with more and more content that was pay-TV only now available to stream. Just remember that it’s up to you — you can pay as much or as little as you choose, but then you get more content the more you pay.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 5,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.