Because life is a series of edits

Communications or Entertainment?

In Internet, Movies, Technology, Thought, TV on July 24, 2010 at 12:11 am
"Here we are now…entertain us"


So Megan and I, having been the victim one too many times of AT+T raising our home phone/DSL rates again, have re-entered the fray of trying to figure out the best communications deal out there. If you've done this recently, you know it isn't easy: there are far too many options, and none of them seem all that great bundled together for our particular purposes.

Our particular purposes, I suppose, are part of the problem, but so are the prices. In researching options, I was amazed both at the breadth of what's available as well as what the market is apparently willing to bear per month to subscribe to them. By my estimation, families with a land line, multiple cell phones (say 3-4), 300+ TV channels with multi-channel DVR capabilities, and broadband Internet across multiple computers could be paying as much as $400-$500 per month in fees, which doesn't even include hardware (cell phones, receiving dish or cable installation, computers) costs on the front end.

We currently have a land line, one pay-by-the-minute cell phone ($100 goes about 6 months), antenna television (6 channels), a mid-level (two movies out at a time) NetFlix subscription, and DSL. Add on a subscription to Covenant Eyes for the computers and we now pay about $120 in monthly fees, which we've determined is too much for our budget.

We'd like to find a cheaper land line provider (or drop the land line altogether and bite the bullet financially and philosophically by going to two cell phones), but we can't make the numbers work (and, of course, none of this even deals with the whole television part of the equation, nor the movie rental fee).

How much is too much in this area of communications? And is it really "communications" being talked about, or is our culture's thirst for entertainment – visual, digital, social – behind the willingness to pay ever-increasing amounts of money to ensure access to it?

For the Christian, how does what gets spent on entertainment compare to what gets given to the Kingdom each month? How much is too much/too little? Where's the line and what are the reasons for where it's been drawn (or re-drawn) over the years?

Wrestling through this anew these days. Feel free to add your two cents and share your own communications/entertainment experiences, ideas, and counsel. I'm open like 7-11.

  1. Not sure if you are looking into this, but several people I know in Atlanta have it and love it. You can choose to go mobile, or do a home + phone.
    The plan you might be most interested in is the home phone with unlimited long distance and internet (6Mbps down and 1Mbps up) for $55, plus one free month and no shipping/installation charges (I am unclear the the modem is $5/month more or not).
    Check them out.

  2. Thanks for the link, Dan. Clear doesn’t offer cell phone options, but they do offer home Internet and phone about $25 cheaper than AT+T. I also checked out their On-the-Go feature, which is basically a USB plug-in for a laptop that allows you wi-fi access outside the home (extra cost, though). No decisions yet, but seems a good option if we stick with the land line.

  3. As far as the TV side of things goes, if you have a TV or Blu-Ray player that is WiFi capable, go to the Netflix 1 movie deal with Instant Watch. You’ll find it cutting out just about all live TV watching.
    I’m currently doing the Fios lowest level package for around $95/mo + $8.99 for Netflix and it’s moving along just fine.

  4. Good to know, Joe, but we’re old school on the TV unit (classic tube). Interestingly, I saw my first Blu-Ray movie at a friend’s house in Colorado this past week and wasn’t sure I liked it – made everything look like a dated BBC production. Weird.

  5. Welcome home Craig and company! Loved your post. Personally challenged by your thoughts and quandary although I haven’t been as thoughtful in approaching the choices as you are being. Wondering how much the tome away in the northwest enjoying creation is contributing to your e-overload frustration and how much is simply trying to make the numbers work for your family. I respect your perspective and appreciate the challenge you throw out.

  6. It’s a fair question, Mike, but not one that has just come about as a result of the Summer Seminar trip. I haven’t carried a cell phone for five years – partly because I hated it and partly because I was no longer working for an employer who paid for it – but I wonder, as Megan and I mused this morning, if all that’s taken place technologically in the past five years could (or should) change our understanding of “basic” in terms of communication costs. Thoughts?

  7. Dan, I ended up going with Clear. Got higher speed Internet/wireless and more tricked out phone service here at home for $25 less than AT+T. Still no cell phones, though – just too pricey for us. Thanks for the tip.

  8. One easy way to save money is to go no TV — plenty of news available via internet. We don’t chose much TV entertainment, but a lot of that is via internet, too.
    We’ve been without TV for 20 years, hooked up an antenna in the “old days” for a super bowl or a world series occasionally, haven’t missed having it at all.

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