Unbundled - DirecTV with Comcast (or WOW) Internet

As a satellite television provider, DirecTV is more or less unable to provide broadband to its customers directly.

Sure, they occasionally advertise bundles with AT&T, but that would be for DSL - a workable solution, but still, an internet solution which advertises speeds that are between 1/10 and 1/5 as fast as what we can get from the cable internet providers. (DirecTV's website has other internet-providing partners listed, but they aren't in the Chicago area.) 

When I called DirecTV about the AT&T bundles I'd seen online, they had absolutely no idea what the bundle pricing would be and told me I'd have to work with AT&T directly. And, a quick look around the net indicates that this "bundle" isn't much more than 2 companies working in complete separation. I can build that kind of bundle myself!

In yesterday's post, I weighed WOW's UltraTV offering against Comcast XFinity's Triple Play. Similar offerings, similar price, more channels on the Comcast side, better UI and tech on the WOW side.

But what about going with DirecTV for television, and finding another "non-bundled" provider for phone and internet? In my opinion, the best UI available and the best channel lineup. Plus, a well-reviewed iOS app to schedule recordings. And it seems to be reasonably priced....

The first hurdle we come across is that both WOW and Comcast raise the price of their Phone/Internet services if you aren't also getting TV. That makes sense, I suppose. WOW will charge $70 for 15 Mbps and unlimited phone, while Comcast charges (per my call yesterday) $106. (Seriously? It's $59 for new customers!)

In an Apples-to-Apples comparison (2 TVs, HBO, DVR, etc.), a DirecTV system is going to cost me $56.99 for the first year, and then $80.99 for the second year. Even if I add in WOW phone/internet at $70 (and assume some taxes and fees on both sides), we're ahead of the game in year 1, and comparable in year 2.
DirecTV is now offering a "home media center HD DVR", the HR34, which supports a whole-home DVR and which can record up to 5 shows at once. Online forum discussions have indicated some displeasure with the HR34, as DirecTV has apparently had some issues getting its software up to speed, and some users report missed recordings. I'd probably risk it - even though it's going to cost an additional $100 at signup - because for now, it's only available to new customers.

In short, this looks like a plausible solution.

Pros: Best channel lineup, RedZone/Sunday Ticket, 5 tuner whole-home DVR, best interface.

Cons: They have to put a satellite dish on your house, and after the issues we've had with water infiltration in our city house, I'm extremely reticent to have any holes punched in the new place.


  1. You'd have better luck getting the Hopper from Dish. A lot of people think the HR34 records the most TV, but with Prime Time Anytime you can actually record 6 live HD shows on the Hopper. Dish offers bundled services too, and new customers can get the Hopper Free, saving you at least $100 more than with DTV. A Dish coworker even told me last week about Auto Hop, the new feature that lets you set Prime Time recordings to automatically skip the commercials! It is a much better deal with Dish!

  2. Good point - I really shouldn't leave them out of the conversation. I was actually going to draw up a post about the Auto Hop litigation (I'm a tech lawyer, so these things are exciting to me for whatever reason.)

    It's pretty likely we'll be moving to satellite in a month or so - I'll have a post up about Dish next week.