If you’re thinking of cutting the cord and ending your cable service, you’re in good company. Last year saw a record number of Canadians end their dependence on cable companies for TV. If you’re thinking about doing the same, here’s exactly how, step by step.
Step One: Buy an HD Antenna
Depending where you live, there are around 30+ digital channels you can access for free if you have a digital HD antenna. They come in both outdoor and indoor varieties. Here’s a pretty good rundown of what’s out there. You can expect to pay between $20 and $80. Channels likely available will include CBC, NBC, CTV, Fox, CityTV, ABC, and more.
Step Two: Upgrade Your Internet Service
Aside from over the air TV, the primary way of getting TV without cable is through the Internet. Ideally, you want an Internet provider with an unlimited data usage plan. That way you won’t be rationing your TV viewing.
However, if you’re in the mood to do a little math, try this. Estimate how many hours of TV each family member watches. Now, each hour at standard definition comes in at 1GB of data. Each hour at high definition will count as 3GB. Add that all up and that’s how much data you’ll need per month.
Now, let’s talk speed. You’ll need at least 5.0 Mbps per device streaming HD video. If your family of four likes to sit down together and watch David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II, you’re fine with 5.0 Mbps. However, if you’re all streaming separately on different devices, you’ll need 20.0 Mbps.
We still highly recommend an unlimited data usage Internet plan.
Step Three: Select a Streaming Device
A streaming device connects to your TV so you can watch streaming services like Netflix or Crave (which we’ll get to in a second).
If you have a smart TV (that is, a TV that hooks up to your Internet via either WiFi or Ethernet cable and has a menu for streaming services), you’re all set. Your smart TV has a built in streaming device.
You may also use a modern game console, such as an Xbox One or Playstation 4 which can connect to streaming services.
If you have a computer, you can use it to connect to the same services as well.
Finally, if you need a dedicated streaming devices for your TV, check out a few on the market such as the Roku Streaming Stick, Apple TV, and the Nvidia Shield. For a full breakdown of the best streaming devices of 2017, check here.
Step Four: Select a Streaming Service (or Services)
Aside from Netflix, you can try out Amazon, Crave, Acorn TV, iTunes, Google Play, Shudder, and more. Furthermore, if you’re a sports fan, know that each of the major leagues offers their own streaming packages. Also, plenty of video content is uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo.
The best way to figure out if a streaming service has what you want to watch is to browse through JustWatch. It’s a search engine for TV shows and movies, so if you want to know who’s carrying The Walking Dead and which seasons, it’s the place to go.
Keep in mind you can still rent movies digitally if they aren’t yet being offered on streaming services. Cineplex, Steam, Best Buy, and more offer you the chance to rent movies and then stream them at home.
Step Five: Cancel Your Cable
Now that you’ve laid all the groundwork for your new, cable-free life, it’s time to finally cut the cord. Sit down with all your documentation (including account numbers, PINs, etc.) and expect to be on the phone for some time. When you tell your provider you’re cancelling, they will transfer you to customer retention. Be polite but firm.
Keep in mind: you are no longer obligated to give 30 days notice. These policies are banned in Canada as of 2014.
Finally, be mindful of your former cable company’s rental equipment. If their equipment is lost or damaged, they may charge you big bucks. Make sure that you gather and return all of their equipment. For extra piece of mind, see if you can return such equipment directly to a physical retail location. Be sure to get a receipt.
The Bottom Line
The number of Canadians cutting their cable is increasing dramatically. You’re in good company. The truth is, there’s more video content than ever before, and most of it is now online and ready to be streamed at your convenience.