Game Changers

Since we moved to South Carolina, we have been at the mercy of three different companies and paying three very large fees in order to enjoy television, the internet and make telephone calls.  It wasn’t our idea, trust me. Rather it was simply because AT&T didn’t recognize the fact that there are actually people living in small towns who do more than grow corn and raise cattle.  I’m placing the blame on AT&T because they were the ones who were unwilling and unprepared to provide the services they had promised, back to that time when we first arrived at our new residence.

Like anyone else who is in the process of moving, we had made all of the necessary appointments and arrangements to have all of our utilities and services installed as soon as we were closing on the house.  The day the installer arrived, I asked about the speed we could expect from AT&T’s, allegedly, bundled internet service.  He then informed me that all they could install was dial up.  I put on my “surely you jest” face because I didn’t even know that people still used dial up, and I was just as stunned to find out that this huge corporation hadn’t bothered to bring the 21st century out to our only slightly rural area.  The poor man then explained to me that the communications giant was planning on running their lines out in about two years.  By the way, that two year scenario has been repeated over and over.

That ended my plan for what I had believed was a sure thing.  Needless to say, the dial up lasted about two days before I called HughesNet and asked them to give me something, anything, that wouldn’t just sit there, time out and go into a coma before I could do my online banking.  That also prompted a call to DirecTV, and my crop of satellite dishes began to grow.  For those of you who have satellite service, I don’t have to tell you that every time it rains or the wind blows or a pine cone falls on the dish or a gecko decides to sun himself, the internet and television are rendered useless.  My computer programs whir away until I’m informed that a connection can’t be made, and the televisions display a message that they are searching for a satellite.  I can only assume that a thunderstorm in Aiken throws all of those roving behemoths in the sky out of their orbits,  crashing into planets.

About a month ago, fliers showed up in our doors, from Atlantic Broadband, offering us – yes – bundles.  A triple play, in fact, with one price and tons of good stuff.  I took out my abacus and chalkboard to figure out what we could save.  The prices from the a la carte menu we were using were in the range of a car payment.  I’m not talking about a Honda Civic, either – we were almost in the Lexus category.  My algebraic equations were proof enough that it would be in our best interest to fire the whole lot and go with the company that actually wore the big boy pants.

This is where you can point and laugh at me because if you had seen me at all over the past couple of weeks, you would have thought that I had seen indoor plumbing for the first time.   I now know what On Demand is, having thought, when I read your comments, that it was some sort of room service.  That whole world of HBO, Showtime and Starz is there, on my television, without me paying some less than reliable satellite company a small fortune.  My internet access is on turbo – I actually think it reads my mind.   Best of all, everything has remained in tact and available through two thunderstorms.

I’m proudly wearing that new remote on my belt now, and I’m recording a whole new collection of television series and movies.  When you talk about “Boss” or “Game of Thrones” or anything else on all of those fancy channels for that matter, I’ll actually have my own point of reference and, more than likely, my own opinions.

Just to give you an idea of what I’ve been up to with all of this, one of the first things I recorded and watched was HBO’s “Game Change”.   I had read, and thoroughly enjoyed the book a couple of years ago, and was interested in how they would interpret it for television.    I have to say that it left me feeling a little, well, maybe a lot,  short changed.  If you’ve read the book, you already know that there was much more to it than just John McCain and his troubles with Sarah Palin.  The book itself is over 700 pages and this little movie didn’t even come close to covering its’ contents.  There was nothing about John Edwards, Hillary Clinton or then candidate Barack Obama, other than some brief clips of speeches and youtube videos.  If HBO is listening, I would like to suggest that perhaps they should have turned this into a mini-series.  The fact that they made this movie the way they did was a disservice to those who read the book and those who didn’t.  It could have been so much better.

OK, I’m off to see what other wonders are awaiting me on my small screen, and I still have to figure out all of the buttons on that remote.  It’s really amazing what’s considered exciting when you live on a farm.  By the way, you can go ahead and mock my foolishness now – I’ll be too busy programming things to notice.


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12 Responses to Game Changers

  1. klmh says:

    I am so jealous Empress. We are also on Hughes top mg/day, AT&T for land line and Direct TV. We were told by AT&T they would come out here, but they have finally recognize that won’t happen anytime soon, if not ever.
    Im going to look at your provider to see if they are in the Oklahoma area, but the Atlantic ocean is a “far piece” from here. 🙂

    • klmh,
      I brought over this from my post about the free cell phone debacle. “Before we get our hopes up, however, cable companies are now offering subsidized broadband for low income families. I guess I have had my own light bulb moment as to why Atlantic Broadband has been working 7 days a week, stringing cable out here and sticking fliers in front doors, offering all sorts of discounted bundles.”
      Our area just happened to fall in between the cities that already had high-speed internet and the more rural areas. So we got lucky and became unintended beneficiaries of the program for the actual recipients.
      You might want to see if any broadband provider is working in or around your area – the subsidized program is nationwide. Once our local company got the green light, they started stringing cable like gangbusters. 🙂
      AT&Ts arrogance is already costing them customers here.

  2. Buttercream says:

    Not to worry … just found out what DVR was for I can watch my favorite late night shows (i.e. Mad Men) when I am not home …
    Good for you for switching – makes life easier to enjoy!

  3. melthehound says:

    Great post, Empress. I forgo the premiums (HoBO, Showtime, etc) on my cable to keep the cost down (At&t U-Verse). Problem is, they keep moving channels to higher tier packages so I no longer get them. The internet isn’t the lightning speed I had with a cable modem but it suits my purposes. My biggest joy with it, if you will, is the DVR. I don’t think I’ve watched a commercial on over 2 years. That’s how long of the 4 I’ve had it to figure out, I didn’t have to watch these recorded shows in real time. As long as no more than an hour has elapsed, I can run through a 60 minute program (not the show 60 Minutes) in about 40 minutes. I don’t have to watch the likes of the ‘infection’ commercials, the ‘enhancement’ commercials, or have products that I couldn’t care less about shoved in my face.

    Glad you’re enjoying what you have so, now go buy something cool with the savings 😉

  4. Adgirl says:

    Good news Empress. I haven’t bothered paying for premium channels since the Sopranos was over. I hear Game of Thrones is great and has plenty of raunch and violence to please me husband unit. Let me know what you think.

  5. Donna says:

    We’re with WOW, cable basic and internet. The costs/fees keep going up and up. Hubby has magic jack on his computer and gives out the phone number to businesses so as to avoid calls coming on land line. Yes I have a land line for telephone, have had the same number for 40 years and old friends can keep in touch. Cell phones we pay so much a year, I use less often so we carry over our minutes.

    • princesspindy says:

      I have a land line and keep a “corded” phone in the drawer in the garage because I live in California and when earthquakes hit you need a “corded” phone that doesn’t need electricity to work…. I have thought of giving it up but I’ve been in one too many natural disasters to give it up, just in case. Of course now that I think about it there might not be anyone to call because their cordless phones won’t work….I’ll keep it in case I need to call the authorities…..of course I also go by the 3 day rule, we know that water and other services won’t be provided by the govt for at least 3 days, so you better have at least 3 days worth of what you need. Not a Survivalist, just a Californian.

      • Donna says:

        yes, during the summer here in Michigan we sometimes lose power for days or a week. I have 2 corded phones in the house (hehehe I have extensions in every room except the bathroom, pre cordless) before tv service went digital I had a tv that worked off the car plug in cigarette lighter thingee. We also have lanterns that are battery operated and hand cranked. Outdoor solor lights can be brought indoors for extra lighting.

  6. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    It isn’t just rural areas. We lived in a densely populated inner suburb outside of a major metropolitan area. First our county refused to let Verizon offer FiOS. Verizon had to go to court to fight that one. Finally the county gave in and Verizon came along and strung FiOS everywhere but our street. We had a two-year ordeal of begging them to come back and wire our street. When we moved, the first question we asked was “does that street have FiOS?” (It did). FiOS is great; triple-play with two extra boxes is running us $175/month including all taxes.

    • Hi, BTDT,
      I didn’t mean it to sound as if this was exclusively a rural problem. In fact, as I mentioned upthread, our situation came about because of a federally subsidized program (begging wasn’t helping us at all & AT&T really didn’t care). We just happened to fall along the route as they ran cable into new areas. I brought over the article where I first read about it:

      “Cable Companies to Offer Low-Income Families Subsidized Broadband
      By Sara Jerome
      November 9, 2011 | 2:25 p.m.
      Major cable companies announced on Wednesday that they will offer low-income families broadband subscriptions for $10 per month as part of a partnership with the Federal Communications Commission.
      Some of the nation’s biggest cable companies — Comcast and Time Warner, among the other members of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association — made the offer after negotiations with the FCC. The agency has launched an effort this year to encourage companies to commit money to broadband adoption.
      President Obama commended the new program, which will last for two years.”

      If I understand it correctly, the families who receive the subsidies must fall within the low income bracket and have at least one school-age child – city or country, it’s the same deal.

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