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Bundling sounded like a great idea when the cable company offered it to you. While it may have cut some of your household costs initially, you might have missed that teeny-tiny fine print mentioning how that super-special deal is only good for a year. Sure, the service provider installed everything for free, and it certainly was nice to get just one, lower bill for all three services. But with the arrival of your 13th monthly bill, you realized that the honeymoon was over.

Now that you’re back to paying full price for your phone, internet and cable, you’re probably trying to figure out if you can ditch one of them and save money. With everyone in the family on your cell phone plan, there’s no need for a landline anymore, but don’t stop there. Set the bar a little higher and plan to dump two of those services. The advances in streaming entertainment and the wide variety of content providers all but eliminates the need for the television portion of that monthly bill. A little soul-searching and the answers to a few simple questions could help you decide whether you can stream all your entertainment and cut the cable cord forever.

Do You Have the Speed You Need?

Maybe you bundled through the local cable company or maybe your communications package is through a satellite company. It doesn’t really matter, but what does matter is how fast the provider’s internet connection is. A minimum bandwidth of 1 mbps will give you a passable viewing experience of most streaming entertainment. However, you don’t want “passable”, you want your streaming video to be as good or better than what you have with satellite or cable. In his article for the New York Times, J.D. Biersdorfer says that at least 3 mbps will give you quality video comparable to watching a DVD. As long as you’re considering dropping services, now might be a good time to shop for other internet providers.

Will You Miss Live TV?

When you spend most of your entertainment hours watching streaming video, dumping cable might seem like a no-brainer. It’s not such a slam-dunk decision when it comes to the live-TV issue, however. Ask yourself if you’re willing to wait a week or longer to see new episodes of your favorite television shows. Maybe you’ve been recording them all on the digital recorder so that might not be a problem for you. Besides, with an HD antenna, you can pick up broadcast network TV. But will your fam be bummed if you cut off their access to ESPN? You might be a sports fan, too, so you should know that, due to blackout policies, you could miss some important games if you’re just relying on network television for sports coverage. Before you make the decision to cut off cable, see what kind of discounts you can get when you bundle TV with Internet or phone. You may be able to keep what you need.

Do You Need Extra Equipment?

If you’ve bought a new television recently or are in the market for a new one, you probably won’t have to worry about peripheral equipment in order to stream content to the big screen in the family room. Kim Komando of USA Today says that the newest smart TVs have online streaming capabilities built right in. If you have an older model that still works great, there’s no need to go out and splurge on a new TV — unless this is just the excuse you’ve been looking for. Inexpensive devices such as Boxee TV, Roku or even HDMI or DVI cables that connect your laptop to your television will do the job at a fraction of the price of a smart TV, as Daily Finance points out.

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About the Author. Lillian Morgan is an entertainment reporter who covers the TV industry.

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