I'm getting pretty fed up with the cost of cable TV, and have wondered how many TV channels can be picked up with one of those digital antennas in Beacon. Does anyone know? My plan would be to drop all cable service, use an antenna for TV, cellphone for house phone, and an "air card" (or whatever they call them) to allow internet via a cellphone number. At a minimum, after probably just one month, I could sign back up with cable to get the "triple play" for a year at $99/month.
I tried it once, all I got was a religious channel in Poughkeepsie, channel 54 I think. This was before the switch to digital HDTV. The switch to digital HDTV means OTA is just as clear and crisp as cable. But with digital, instead of gradually falling off over a great distance like analog, you either get super crisp, and then over a short distance, you get no signal at all.
So if I lived near the city, I would have dropped cable awhile ago. Unfortunately, what makes Beacon such a great place to live: the Hudson highlands, means we have a snowball's chance in hell of getting a signal from the city through those mountains. So we're stuck.
I've been ruminating on this idea recently: we're a small compact city. Some places have had success setting up their own infrastructure:
The plus is it *should* be cheaper rates for insanely fast Internet and a-la-carte cable, including overhead and maintenance and paying off the loan to install/ buy all the wires. Because we're small and compact. We're not talking about sprawling suburbia, we're talking about a dense little city. We could turn Beacon into a mini tech mecha. The negative is this:
Monopolies use their money to buy off legislators and regulators with campaign contributions and revolving door employment, American legalized corruption, and shut down public options. So we're stuck with our rent seeking parasites:
In another life if I had the time, I'd try to start a civic group to agitate to get Beacon public owned cable and Internet. To actually explore how much it would cost and how we would pay for that, to make the case to the powers that be at city hall that it is financially feasible, cheaper, and better.
But this is a very preliminary thought. I haven't done my research: I don't know if squeaky clean Albany (cough) has already shut down the possibility of municipal public Internet legislatively. I know they are trying to shut down the possibilities in every state, the monopolies are terrified of the people sick of their blood sucking and routing around them, pun intended.
But there's always hope. If Albany hasn't outlawed small cities taking matters into their own hands already, I don't have much time right now, but I'd happily join with as much resources and time in my power to galvanize any efforts with anyone if anyone reading this wants to run with the idea.
We might have to go offline and meet at the coffee shop in person after Cablevision gets wind of us and shuts off our service though!
And we should at LEAST try to get public wifi in Beacon. Like New York City is getting now:
Thanks Ben, I thought that would end up being the answer (no or limited stations). I really only need internet, but we're pretty much CableVision slaves when it comes to high-speed internet. Several years ago, I dropped OptOnline and switch to EarthLink (phone internet), but of course, the speed was so slow I couldn't really use it for anything other than emailing (and that was slow too, but at least possible). The reason I switched then is because Cable Vision apparently kept enrolling new people to the Opt Online service, but didn't increase their bandwidth to accommodate them, so the actual speed started to approach the phone-based internet, and I thought "why pay for "high-speed" internet at the rate of modem internet?". Maybe I can convince my wife to go without TV (after football season is over, I've got to be able to watch the final two college games ;) )
I'm ready to drop my land line phone and cable now that HBO and Showtime are going to be available as stand-alones. What can I expect to pay for internet access that's not a part of a triple-play plan and what are my options as to providers?
I don't know about alternatives to Cablevision. I tried calling Fios, but they aren't in our area. Perhaps Dish network has internet.
Dish is satellite based. So it's high latency, limited bandwidth, tiny monthly data caps, and expensive. It's probably fantastic if you live in Northern Quebec.
Great! Now I have to move to northern Quebec! ;) Looks like the Cablevision monopoly will continue.
I pay just under $60/month for internet alone from Cablevision. (Cablevision is a good service, IMHO, but I think internet service should be provided by government, as roads and highways are.)
Paying Cablevision for phone service is worthless. You can get a Google Voice number for free calls and get a Skype number for around $80/year. VOIP does not allow 911 service, but your cell phone does. Land line phones only have value during electrical outages. (As a country, we should consider keeping the land line system operational so we have a reliable emergency communications service during power outages and for rural/remote areas.)
Unless you need to watch sports, cable TV service is also worthless. Most people watch only a dozen channels, or less. I don't know anymore how many channels people get with basic cable service. Most of those channels would not survive under pay for view.
OK, so I watch Stewart/Colbert the next day, but it is not that I care that much about these shows, or any others. Believe me, once you kick the habit of watching TV according to the schedule of the networks, you won't go back. I had HBO in the 1990s for a couple of years and was frustrated by seeing the same movies shown over and over. Not much of a premium.
Beacon would be a perfect place to have a municipally-run, internet system. It would eventually cost the city less than a private cable company charges (except for upfront costs). And, as with the building of public roads (which were reintroduced starting in the late 18thC), future generations will derive benefits we cannot yet imagine.
I didn't know you could get internet alone from Cablevision, I'll check into that as an option. Thanks. I like being able to watch football games and other sports events though, so completely axing TV would be rough. The addition of phone service is pretty low if you already get TV and internet, but with the group cellphone deals now, it may be worth just having another cell phone as the house phone.
Konstantin: you are 100% correct. The political and legal status quo on this topic is broken and toxic, the only way to fix it is municipalities from the bottom up.
I've been doing some research and it seems legal in New York State for Beacon as a city to pursue its own broadband. Some states are horrible in this arena of protecting the monopolistic parasites, but New York State is not, so far, on this issue.
I was just reading this, good intro to the subject:
Good links in there:
It's becoming a real grassroots thing around the country, there is a lot if wisdom we could tap, maybe even national allies who would help us succeed. A lot of communities are thinking about this:
If we get enough people interested in this to reach a critical mass we really should make some noise at city hall as a group and keep at it. The late great John Fasulo and I met with Randy Casale privately when we were trying to get the Beacon Line rolling (a somewhat related issue in terms of public infrastructure) and he is a good guy, he is open and accommodating and has a lot of great thoughts himself. I could see the Mayor on board with us. We could get a subcommittee, a work group, get a study done, report back on the financial feasibility. And then get it done.
We could really do this. Have no illusions though, it would be a huge sustained undertaking. But it would so good for Beacon and I think a lot of people would want to see it happen. Beacon: a mecca of cheap and fast Internet and TV. Can you imagine what that would do for us? We would develop some really powerful enemies though, the big telcos really hate and fear this kind of thing. Good.
Now I have to say farewell to you all as my Internet is about to be mysteriously cut off (har har).
The guy's long post was pretty funny! I also like this quote somebody added, "Privatize the profits, socialize the losses.", which was so true with the recent bailouts (which weren't required to actually save the companies, just to save their shareholders; the companies could have easily raised the bailout money on their own (average bailouts were ~3% of the company net worth).
The long-term economic benefit of Beacon having the public internet system would likely far outweigh the initial cost. I would think all sorts of businesses would locate here if they had a combination of low-cost, reliable, high-speed internet AND friendly business environment (i.e. low business tax rate). Can you imagine, Beacon could actually have "industry" again, and people wouldn't have to commute miles and miles to go to work (well, at least quite a few people wouldn't)
Steve: the nice thing about this issue is that transcends the usual liberal/ conservative divide.
Solving the problem has nothing to do with the blame game.
Most of the partisan nonsense just serves to divide us in ways that only benefits a distant status quo that neither of us like.
Working locally to a real solution without the usual ideological nonsense is like a dream.
I think in a small town like Beacon, there should be no political party assigned to candidates; let them speak what their personal beliefs are in relation to how they will perform in an elected position, and how those beliefs, in combination with their relevant qualifications, will allow them to succeed in the position. I always find it humorous that judges have a political party associated with them when running for election! Justice is justice!