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Cord Cutter’s Guide To Reception: TV Antennas And Internet Plans

By Jeremy Evans / September 3, 2017 / Tags: ,

A TV antenna will let you to watch tons of popular channels for free. Plus, see how to find fast, affordable internet after you cancel your cable.

Indoor TV antenna

If you’re thinking about cutting the cord, you need to consider getting a TV antenna. In fact, I believe getting an antenna is one of the most important steps for a successful cord cutting experience. The reason is simple. Most of the stuff people watch is available for free with an antenna. You don’t need cable/satellite, and you don’t even need to worry about the internet. All you need is a good old antenna.

Not Your Grandfather’s Bunny Ears

Many people still think of antennas as being some relic from the past. They imagine ugly, hard-to-install pieces of junk that don’t work unless the weather is perfect–and even then all you get is a few crappy channels you don’t even want to watch. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Today’s TV antennas are modern devices that deliver high-quality high-definition TV. In fact, the newer TV antennas retrieve HD signals that are often much better than the quality you get with cable TV. And you don’t need some cruddy old tube television for these antennas, either. Any decent flat screen TV already has the built-in framework to work with modern antennas. All you need to do is connect the antenna to your TV, tell your TV to search for ‘over-the-air’ (aka ‘OTA’) stations, and you’ll get a slew of popular channels in brilliant HD.

When I write that today’s TV antennas deliver crystal clear HD picture quality, this isn’t a matter of opinion. In 2009, the United States officially switched from analog broadcasts to digital signals. As a result, every TV station in the US (with a few exceptions) is required to provide free OTA reception to TV antennas using a high-quality HD standard.

Thus, OTA programming picked up by plain old antennas is HD-quality and free. It’s also plentiful.

Watch CBS, NBC, ABC And 30+ More Channels FREE

Channels free with an antenna

The majority of US residents can get dozens of free channels, including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, the CW, and PBS — plus a slew of other news, classic TV, movies, kids programming, community access stations, and more. You’ll be amazed at the number of channels you can get–for FREE–without cable or satellite.

Another concern people have with antennas is that it will look like an ugly beast sprouting from the rooftop. Not anymore. If you live in or anywhere near a decent-sized city, then you’ll probably be extremely satisfied with a sleek indoor antenna that looks more like a decoration than an antenna. Indoor antennas are also incredibly easy to set up. You plug them into your TV and set them near a window. Done.

How much do these modern antennas cost? You can get a quality indoor antenna for as little as $10, and as much as $70. You’ll pay anywhere from $40-$120 for a powerful attic or outdoor antenna.

OK, fine–antennas are a great deal, but why shouldn’t I still just stream the over-the-air channels?

It’s not that easy. First, not all the channels are available to stream–and few are available to stream for free. Even with a service like Sling TV, you can only get ‘certain local channels in certain select markets.’ In other words, Sling provides local channels in only a few markets, and even in those few markets you won’t get all the local channels. For example, you might get NBC, but not Fox. PlayStation Vue also has the same local channels restrictions.

Even if a streaming service like Sling TV offers a package with a digital antenna, you’ll still pay extra for it. And this brings us to the ugly truth of cord cutting: A lot of the cord-cutting stuff you’ll read is just hype. These ‘hypesters’ make it sound like cutting the cord is easy, and that you’ll save a bunch of money and keep all your channels. But this is not true if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’re not careful, you’ll pay as much–if not more–after you cut the cord.

You still need the internet–and internet plans are not free. You will probably want Sling TV or PlayStation Vue for live TV. Not free. You will want Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. Not free. And so on.

These services, while excellent, can get pretty expensive, pretty quick. These accumulating expenses are why getting an antenna is so important. For only a one-time cost of $50 or less, you can get 30-40 HD channels for free. You’ll get all the major networks, you’ll get all your local news and weather, and you’ll get NFL and NBA games, among so much more.

Choose The Right Antenna For Your Home/Location

Set top indoor antenna

If you want to cut the cord, but you want the same level of enjoyment from TV, then getting an antenna is the make-or-break ingredient. Without an antenna, chances are you’ll pay more than you did before, or your TV access will suffer.

Now that I’ve convinced you getting an antenna is a wise choice, let’s address the type of antenna you’ll need. To get started, see:

How To Choose The Best Antenna For Your Home


Finding Fast, Affordable Internet

Without cable, the internet will be delivering all your TV entertainment to you. So your home internet connection needs to be fast enough that you don’t deal with frustrating delays and poor picture quality.

What if you currently get your internet and your cable TV from the same company? When you call up to cancel your cable but keep your internet they’ll probably try to hike the price. They don’t want you to be able to save money by canceling cable.

But don’t worry. You can get a quality internet service and still come out with significant savings every month versus cable. You just need to compare internet service providers in your area.

No matter where you live, chances are there’s more than one internet service provider (ISP) in your town. You just have to do some basic comparison shopping. Here’s an excellent site to use to find and compare ISPs in your area.

A couple tips. One, I believe DSL Extreme is the very best ISP for cord cutters. There’s no information cap, which means you’re able to stream as much as you want with no extra fees or throttling, and they have fantastic deals.

Two–internet speed. How fast is fast enough? You’ll need a minimum of 10 Mbps download speed. If you watch a lot of TV during primetime hours, or if you have other people in your house who will stream separately, you may want 20 Mbps to be safe.

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