Saturday, June 10, 2017

Cutting the Cable in Austin TX with a Tivo and Digital Antenna

After spending around $12,240 on cable TV for the past 17 years, I finally decided to join the 2nd millennium and say goodbye to my cable company and hello to digital broadcast TV.

Here's my step by step guide to cutting the cord on cable with a Tivo in Austin TX. 

1.  Find out if you can receive any digital TV signals.  Visit the FCC at and see how many stations you can receive.  Here's what Austin looks like.

2. Purchase a few digital antennas and see which one works the best and take the rest back.  The price has nothing to do with quality.  Antennas may be actively powered or passive.  The powered may be better for far away stations, but they may not be good for close stations.  Consumer Reports tried to recommend specific brands, but after testing, they could not recommend any since the antennas would do well in one area, but not another.  At the recommendation of the Best Buy guy I tried this one which costs $33.  See more notes below on antennas.
 3. Mount the antenna on the wall near your TV, or better yet on an interior window.

4 Hook up your antenna to the back of your Tivo.

5. Convert the Tivo from cable to over the air (OTA).
The tricky part with the Tivo is that you have to go through the complete initial setup again. On the main menu select "Settings and Messages"/"Help"/"Restart or Reset"/"Repeat Guided Setup" to repeat the setup.  Select "Antenna only" on all the settings.
Tivo will then scan your antenna and show you all the stations it found.

 6.   Remove poor quality stations.
Tivo found 20 OTA stations, but not all came in well and many were in Spanish.
After subtracting those , I now have these stations in Austin TX:
18-1 PBS
18-2 create
18-3 PBS
18-4 PBS
21-1 ABC
24-3 Justice
36-1 NBC
36-2 COZI
36-3 ION
42-1 CBS
54-1 CW
54-2 GRIT
54-3 Laff

 7. Make sure everything is working correctly and then call the cable company to cut the cord.

My bill went from $150 to $ $90 with taxes.
That is still way too high for just internet at 100Mb, but it's a start.
How much do you pay for internet and phone?

After trying the RCA antenna for a while I was disappointed.  I took that back to Best Buy, and  I got a better cheaper one ($20) from Amazon: the Mohu Leaf Metro TV Antenna, Indoor, Portable, 25 Mile Range. It works much better.
Then for my other TV I tried the Intoam Leaf, but it could only pick up 10 stations clearly.

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