In the Canadian telecommunications war between Rogers and Bell, consumers on the couch are beginning to realize there are alternatives to regular cable and phone plans.
“Bell and Rogers are losing tons of subscribers. You are definitely seeing a shift towards them promoting their internet services and data services for cell phones to make up for lost revenue,” says Stephen Weyman, editor of HowToSaveMoney.ca
Weyman says consumers are moving away from traditional Cable TV and landlines because they now have a lot more options. He says after short-term discount bundles and flashy new specialty channels run their course, creeping prices and customer service headaches take over.
Switching off cable TV
“Today, I watch more TV then I ever did when I lived in a place that had cable. I do so by hooking up a home theater PC (HTPC) to my 50″ plasma TV and stream almost any show I could want legally from the network websites themselves.”
Mark Hachman, editor of PCmag.com, says with sites like Netflix and Hulu, the wealth of TV content, independent movies and the most recent TV shows makes eliminating cable a real option for a lot of people.
“For someone who doesn’t live and die talking about the latest show around the water cooler it absolutely makes sense to switch,” says Hachman.
But he says some people are also hesitant to switch away from cable because “for a family, the ability to sit down, turn on the TV and veg out is invaluable.”
According to the CRTC, in 2011 the average Canadian paid $56 a month for basic cable. Combine that with Internet service and a single cell phone plan and the average Canadian pays about $168 for a monthly package.
Weyman says he doesn’t think there will be a point in the near future when home phones and cable TV are completely obsolete, since people either don’t know the online alternatives exist or they can’t be bothered to learn how to use them.
Hanging up on land lines
“Many older people will continue to use traditional phones for a long time coming and –those who make enough money to not be bothered with any extra hassle or nuisance,” says Weyman.
“However, profits will definitely shrink for the companies providing traditional land line service so it will be interesting to see if that hastens the demise of the traditional home phone,” says Weyman.
Weyman says once the internet stops being transmitted through traditional telephone lines, then it might be too costly for them to bother maintaining those extra lines for the “dwindling customer base.”
“The only way I see it completely disappearing soon is if the big companies like Bell and Rogers continue to provide home phone service but provide it through an extremely reliable VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service through their high speed internet lines,” says Weyman.
VoIP services like Skype and Google Voice have become increasingly popular, but many people are still hesitate to use VoIP as their primary phone for fears it can be unreliable.
Weyman says he uses a product called magicJack because it is more convenient than setting up traditional VoIP.
MagicJack is a device that plugs directly into an internet router and then is plugged into a cordless phone system.
It costs less than $4 a month and includes unlimited local and long distance calling anywhere in Canada and the United States.
“There are different levels of reliability when it comes to VoIP and there are definitely more points of failure, but the number of large businesses using it shows that it can be done in a reliable fashion,” says Weyman.
“To some extent, you get what you pay for. I keep cheap prepaid cell phones as backups to my ultra cheap VoIP home phone for important calls and for when reliability is an issue.”
For people who are willing to take a risk, canceling your cable and home phone can be a great financial alternative to paying exorbitant bills to Rogers and Bell on a monthly basis.