You may have seen our web pages related to “cutting the cord.” If you are not familiar with the term, it signifies leaving behind the expense of cable television and replacing it with Over-the-Air tv stations often augmented with streaming services. An Over-the-Air TV station is what we typically think of as “network television,” ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS etc. A streaming service allows you to access digital content such as music, movies or TV shows, via your internet connection. To stream content, you will need a data connection, a device to stream the content and a service to provide the content. This blog will walk you through the basics of streaming devices and services.
Your data connection could be from your mobile phone provider or DC Access. Using your home’s internet connection is usually the most economical way to stream content as DC Access does not impose data limits on your connection. Suggested speeds for streaming content range from as little as 384 kbps for a standard quality audio stream up to 25Mbps for a 4k video stream (we’d recommend our Turbo plan for 4K streaming). Keep in mind that this is the bandwidth needed solely for streaming, if you have another user or device that needs a connection, you’ll need additional bandwidth (kids watching one show while a parent watches sports elsewhere).
Most cord cutters are seeking to watch video streams, so you’ll need a device with a screen. There are a number of ways to do this including smart televisions, smart phones, tablets, game consoles, and stand alone streaming devices which interface with an existing TV. Many TVs made in the last 4-5 years, from high end Sony, Samsung and LG models all the way to TLC and Hisense value screens, have operating systems and interfaces that allow you to access most streaming services using your regular remote. Apple and Android devices and game consoles such as a PlayStation or Xbox can access the services through an app. Finally and perhaps the most popular is through a set top box or dongle such as Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, Fire TV, or Tivo. Due to wireless interference in DC, we recommend hardwiring your streaming devices to your router, rather than connecting to your wireless network.
Whew! Finally we get to the part where you get to select what you want to listen to or watch.
Audio streams essentially replace traditional radio or physical media like vinyl or CDs, with a nearly endless choice of artist and genre available at your fingertips. Some of the most popular audio streaming services include Pandora and Spotify, which offer ad-supported free streams as well as paid, ad-free content. Youtube Music (Google) and Apple Music and great options for folks who already have these company’s mobile devices. If you have high fidelity aspirations or are really into music, Tidal and Qobuz offer particularly high quality audio streams that offer quality higher than CDs. Finally, Amazon Music Prime is a good choice for subscribers to Amazon Prime. It also offers a great transition to talk about video streaming options, as Amazon Prime Video is also included in that annual subscription.
Options for video streaming services seem to be expanding daily. Sling and Hulu are the best alternatives to cable TV. Netflix has a broad range of content, while Disney+ and ESPN+ offer more targeted content. Peacock, Paramount+, AppleTV and HBO Max all offer additional content. Don’t forget that if you are a DC resident our library system offers numerous options for no cost streams of video and audio. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I’m exhausted, so that’s it for listing options.
So, to use a streaming service you’ll need: a connection to the internet, a device to listen to or watch your content and a streaming service to provide the content.
As a reminder, DC Access doesn’t ask you to sign a contract, so if you need more speed for your streams, just reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us 202.546.5898. We can upgrade your speed remotely and usually within an hour or two.