Thursday, July 30, 2015


So here is where we are eventually heading…

The end goal is to have:

High Speed Fiber Internet & VOIP – Estimated Cost Per Month $60

HD OTA Antennae for FREE Local TV – Estimated Cost Per Month $0

DVR Service for HD OTA TV – Estimated Cost Per Month $15, or $0, if you purchased the lifetime activation.

Streaming TV Service for TV channels normally available only on Satellite/Cable TV - Estimated Cost Per Month $30 to $55 per month, depending on the channels you choose.

Total Estimated Monthly Cost Per Month for TV, DVR, Internet, & Phone - $90 to $120, depending on the services you want.

My specific plan I have in mind is:

Sonic High Speed Fiber Internet & VOIP – Estimated Cost Per Month $60

HD OTA Antennae for FREE Local TVCost Per Month $0

TiVo DVR Service for HD OTA TV – Cost Per Month $0

Sling TV Streaming TV Service for specialty TV channels: Including ESPN, AMC, Food Network, A&E, TNT, El Rey, IFC, Disney, TBS, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, ABC Family, HBO, Epix, Sundance, TCM - Cost Per Month $50.

Total Estimated Monthly Cost Per Month for TV, DVR, Internet, & Phone - $110 Per month

Unfortunately, TV will have to wait until my Direct TV contract is up in 2 years, and fiber becoming available will depend on who else switches to Sonic in my neighborhood.
Oh well.

Anyway, for those who have an awesome internet connection not tied down to a cable company and are interested in streaming TV, check out Sling TV. You can customize your channel package to your needs and wants.


As of Tuesday, I now have Sonic as my ISP and VOIP provider.

The Sonic technician, Chuck, arrived 30 min into the 4 hour window I was given for my appointment, which was f-ing stellar, and then I got to experience why he arrived so early.

Chuck knew his stuff.

He was a telecom technician for many years, and his experience showed. He assessed where the jacks were, figured out where the existing lines traced, and gave me a summary of what my options were and what he recommended in 10 minutes.  I made my choice, and he set up a new jack in the computer room where the modem was going to be placed, extended a line to the kitchen, had the phone line up and registering on both jacks in 20 min, and the internet up in another 10.  The experience of having a tech that knew his stuff AND properly tested everything was working PROPERLY before he left was refreshing.

About 40 minutes into the visit from Sonic, the Direct TV tech arrive, and he too was on the ball.  Unlike the Xfinity/Comcast techs that arrived somewhat grumpy and zombified, the Direct TV tech was all energy and smiles. Like Chuck, the Direct TV tech assessed out house, explained what he was going to do, got permission to go ahead, then went to it.  He replaced our old Direct TV dish with a new one, hooked up the Genie DVR in the living room, and the Genie satellite unit in the bedroom, tested both, gave me a quick but thorough intro to both, and gave me a very easy and descriptive reference manual.

By 10:00 am, both techs were gone and I was completely up and running with both my new internet, new phone, and new TV source.

That was the success part… here was the no so much success part:

I grabbed the decoder card from my wife’s TiVo, the Xfinity/Comcast DVR w/ remote, the Xfinity/Comcast internet/phone modem, and their cords and AC adapters, and took them to Xfinity/Comcast on the way to work to drop them off and get them removed from our accounts.  I waited in line for a few minutes in their office, where they then took my name and had me take a seat in the waiting area… with me having an armful of equipment.

15 minutes later, I was called up. The attendant was extremely polite, but unfortunately could not take the equipment at this time, because my phone number from Xfinity/Comcast had not yet ported over to my Sonic phone yet, but was in transition to do so. The system was locked in a way that no changes could be made to the account until the port-over was complete… which won’t happen till late next week.

NOTE!: When switching from Xfinity/Comcast, make sure your turn in unused equipment BEFORE you put in a request to port your phone number to your new service, OR just do not bother porting your old number.

Now for the record, I wouldn’t have gone with Direct TV, or any other satellite or cable service for that matter, if I could have afforded to purchase my over the air antennae equipment now.  Even though an over the air antennae cost super less in the long run, I am completely broke at this time, and could not afford to spend more than the $125.00 this month.

Anyway, for the next year, everything is discounted and much less expensive. Just got my first direct TV bill of $62.00, and my sonic bill is $60, so we are looking at $122 a month for TV, Internet, and Phone.  That is $55.00 less I am paying than Xfinity/Comcast.  Unfortunately, I am going to incur some costs still from Xfinity/Comcast next month due to not being able to cancel my account till the phone number ports.  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Porting of the Phone Number

So with the issues of the phone line from Sonic not having the crossover properly set up by AT&T, I had to postpone my Direct TV install until the 28th, the soonest that Sonic can send a Sonic technician out to fix the phone line.

Today, I received an email from Sonic saying my line port over request of my Xfinity/Comcast is in progress, and would be completed on August 8th, 2 weeks from now.

My only concern is this:  If I am ready to cancel my cable and internet from Xfinity on the 28th, can I keep the phone number until the 8th when the port over is complete, or do I have to pay for cable and internet from Xfinity/Comcast till the 8th?

I suspect, I am stuck paying for Xfinity/Comcast cable and Internet I will not need or use for 11 more days.

This is a lot of frustrating work folks.  I hope it pays off.

In the meantime, have canceled the speed boost portion of by Xfinity/Comcast internet, and is seems to have made the connection more stable, but I can really see the speed difference.  Looking forward to my 10 GBPS Sonic next week.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

TRAGEDY!!!: First Demerit for Sonic


I came home, called Sonic and began the setup process for the Sonic modem.  The model was the Pace 5268AC, and was so new they did not have a setup guide for it online.  I was excited!  As per the tech's instructions, I plugged in the power cable and the phone cable. We waited till the power light was solid green. The tech began the remote configuration, aaaaaaaaand... nothing.  It turns out if you do not already have an AT&T line, such as in the case with a Cable TV customer with a VOIP phone, AT&T is the technician that first comes out, not sonic... and they connected the line wrong.  We connected the phone to the line, and there was no dial tone.  The technician regretted to inform me that the nearest appointment for a technician to come out is one week from now on July 28 to properly connect the line. Wah, waaaaaah.  I informed them this was the first demerit on their record with me, but I guess I have to wait.  I am an IT tech, not a telephone tech, or I would do it myself.

One more week of the spotty intermittent internet connectivity from Xfinity/Comcast.  The problem is, with direct TV coming out, and with the current VOIP line going through the coaxial, we are going to loose house phone access and internet on Thursday when Direct TV is coming out.

I am going to have to call the sales department tomorrow and ask them to push the Direct TV install to the same day as the fixing of the line.  I cannot go 3 days straight without internet, and Juliet cannot go 3 days with out both the land line and the internet.  Meh.

Still... a 5 day postponement of kicking Xfinity/Comcast to the curb isn't too bad.

Step 2 of Transition

As I received the email today that my new phone line is active, I went ahead and started the proceedings of porting the number from Xfinity to over to my Sonic account.  Within 48 hours, my phone number will be out of the clutches of Xfinity/Comcast!!! MUAHAHAHAHAH!!!

Went ahead and set up a replacement email that I will be updating... everywhere... all night.


REEEEEALY not looking forward to this part, but got to do what I got to do.  Have allot of accounts to update my email on.

Also set up a new email for the wife of her choosing.  Very simple and straight forward.  Sonic's layout of their User Tools section on their site is easy to navigate, and their help section pretty much covers everything (so far).  Had the 2 email accounts up in seconds.  Liking Sonic so far.  We will see, once I have the Fusion modem set up.

The Start Of The Transition

Yesterday, I received my Sonic Fusion modem and equipment.

In it included the modem, AC power for the modem, Ethernet cables, phone cables, 3 DSL filters for the house phones so they will not interfere with your DSL service, clear instructions on how to set up your modem, a warning card not to set up my modem until the service has been installed, and the scheduled service installation date on the card (which is today).
Today while I was at work, the Sonic technician came and installed the telephone and DSL service, so my home is ready to install the modem when I get home tonight.
I logged into my Xfinity account, and forwarded my Xfinity home phone number to my new Sonic home phone number.  After I have the phone installed tonight, I will call Sonic and arranged to have the number ported over from Xfinity to Sonic, so I can keep my original phone number (unless Juliet likes the new home phone number better, then I will have to call all the creditors and give them the new number)

At lunch today, I ordered Direct TV through Sonic, which gave me 3 discounts the first year, and a discounted channel package.

The Sonic customer service rep was nothing but Aces, and when I realized I left my wallet in my car, he waited the 10 minutes for me to go grab it so I wouldn’t have to call back and start the order all over.

The total breakdown for Direct TV is as follows:
  Direct TV Ultimate Package: $39.99 ($81.99 after 12 months)
  HD Service with 4 Channel HD DVR + 1 Genie remote viewing unit: $15.00 per month
  Customer Referral code: $10 off per month for the first 10 months
  Discount for Auto Pay: $10 per month for first 11 months
  Sonic Bundle Discount: $5 for the first 12 months
  Shipping and Handling: $21.85 (One time fee, fist month.)
  Taxes and licensing fees: $32.63 per month

Total Monthly Costs over the next 2 years:
  1st month: $83.47
  2nd through 10th month: $61.62
  11th Month: $72.62
  12th month: $77.62
  13 through 24: $129.62

Average Monthly Cost over 24 months $97.35

Sonic Fusion phone & 10 GPBS service $60.00

Total Average Monthly Cost for the next 2 years: $157.35

Comparison to Xfinity:
  Sonic Fusion + Internet: $157.35
  Xfinity High Speed Internet/Phone/TV: $171.12
  Total Average Monthly Savings over 2y: $13.77 month ($330.48 yr)

Unfortunately, not as great of savings as I hoped, but with direct dual DSL line service at up to 10 GBPS that is uninterrupted, then it is well worth it.

AAAAAAND that’s not really the savings, as that $330.48 is going to go towards purchasing a HD digital antenna and Roamio TiVo.

At the end of Yr 24, Direct TV will be cut loose, the monthly charge will go down to $75.00 a month (Sonic Fusion + Free OTA TV, and $15 a month Tivo service.)

At least this first year will allow me to save money and prepare for next month and the eventual 
cancellation of Dish Network.   If I could have afforded the HD TV antenna now, I would have gone straight to OTA TV and bypassed Direct TV, but those are the breaks.  Going to miss BBC, the SciFi channel, Chill, and IFC, but sacrifices must be made, and that’s 2 years from now anyway.

At least I will have much better customer service those 2 years than I ever had with Xfinity/Comcast.  Looking forward to calling them tonight or tomorrow to schedule my cancellation of Xfinity on Thursday.

Friday, July 17, 2015

HD Alternatives, A.K.A: What the Cable Company Does Not Want You To Know

With the popularity of streaming services, such as Netflix, cable companies have begun to cap their internet services bandwidth for residential internet services, and those Internet Service Providers that already had caps are having their caps lowered.

(For the layperson: bandwidth refers to the amount of data a person can have pass through their service in their home before they either get charged overages and/or have their internet service temporarily blocked.)

 Also, with the recent deregulation of the Internet, in my opinion and observation, it appears many ISPs and cable companies who are also ISP providers have begun to throttle back their speeds, or start to put interruption pulses in their internet, so people who are using their internet service for streaming will be interrupted when they have been streaming too much. This is because the smaller ISPs do not want you to over use their bandwidth, and the cable companies want you to use their TV and on-demand services for your program viewing needs.


What many people do not know, even-though it was in the news several times when it happened, is the government required all TV stations to switch their over-the-air broadcasting to an HD signal.  This means if you a decent line of site view where you live of the land around you, you live close or in a major city, all you need is to by a good HD TV antenna, install it on your roof, and you now have free local TV.  Combine that with a good ISP service for your Netflix and other streaming services, and you just cut your monthly bill by $100 or more.

If you are in the center of a city with good line of sight, a multi-directional antennae would be most advantageous.

If you are on the outskirts of a city, a unidirectional HD antenna would be a better choice.

"But I love my DVR service that comes with cable!!!"

Well good news for you: TiVo now has over-the-air broadcasting DVR service, the TiVo Roamio, for $49.99 for the DVR unit, and  $14.99 a month for their service, which if you compare it to your cable company DVR service and extra fees, that is pretty damn comparable, and from the money you saved from dropping cable, it is already paid for the first month alone.

Tablo also provides a OTA DVR service, but they require an additional equipment and service, such as Roku or Amazon Fire, to view on a large TV.


1.) Determine the distance and direction from your location to your local TV broadcasting stations.  This can be determined by entering your location into a few different sites specializing in OTA programming, such as Tablo's site at

2.) Determine the best placing of your antennae and purchase the appropriate mounting kit.  Many people use a chimney mounting kit, where the pole is strapped and bolted to your chimney.  some people use a tripod base in the backyard.

3.) Purchase the antennae and mounting kit and install.  They are fairly easy to install for those who have a DIY knack, but for others, you may want to hire professional assistance with the installation.

4.) Purchase your OTA DVR service.

5.) Say goodbye to cable.

Eventually, with more and more non-cable broadband high speed ISP services becoming available, such as Google Fiber and Sonic Fiber, the cable companies will soon be a thing of the past.  All the premium stations are starting to realize this, so they are adding streaming subscription services so they will be ready, such as HBO has done with their new HBO NOW service.


I hope this knowledge has helped a few reduce their monthly TV entertainment bill.

WARNING: Unfortunately, for people WITHOUT good line of sight of a city, such as people who live in the mountains, this may not be good for you. Your second best choice is a satellite service, such as Direct TV, for your local channels and basic TV, then use your internet service for the streaming.  Not ideal in cost, but still cheaper than Cable.