Cutting the Cord v2.0

Until just a few years ago, “cutting the cord” was the phrase used to refer to what parents did in order to emancipate children who were reluctant to leave the safety of the nest. It was, and still is, a phrase that indicated a move from dependency to freedom.

While this definition of “cutting the cord” still applies, that’s not the meaning that is being bandied about in every major news outlet today.

Cord cutters are the increasing numbers of households who have decided to emancipate themselves from traditional cable television subscriptions. Laden with hundreds of channels, these subscriptions are accompanied by a heavy monthly price tag — a fee that includes channels that go unwatched, month after month.

When alternatives to those traditional TV subscriptions began popping up a few years back, consumers started sitting up on their couches and taking notice. Netflix, Hulu and HBO Go were among the first, but since those early streaming days, streaming services have been popping up like prairie dogs. YouTube TV, Sling TV, Amazon Prime, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vu are just a few of the services available. To move the metaphor from prairie dogs, these services are as fertile as rabbits.

How sweeping is cord cutting? According to a December 28, 2017 article in USA Today:

“Two trends power the ongoing TV transformation: the growing number of U.S. homes with high-speed broadband Internet service, and the slow decline in homes with traditional pay-TV service.

“About 82% of all U.S. homes get broadband now, up from 76% in 2012, according to the Leichtman Research Group. And broadband homes (94.5 million) now eclipse the number of homes with traditional pay TV (about 92.2 million), the research firm says.

“Meanwhile, pay-TV providers overall continue to lose subscribers. About 405,000 signed off in the third quarter alone. However, the growth in broadband-delivered live TV services such as Sling TV and DirecTV Now is helping offset those losses. More than 2.5 million now subscribe to them, Leichtman Research says.”

Recognizing that streaming TV is a trend that is swiftly becoming the new norm, Smithville has introduced Smithville Streaming TV. Available to its residential internet customers, this streaming option is a perfect complement to other streaming services, offering what they most often lack: access to local and network programming.

One of the strongest advantages of streaming TV is the ability to select a service that offers more of what the viewer actually wants to watch, cutting out the fat of unwanted channels and serving up a leaner, more desirable menu. One of the drawbacks, however, is the lack of network channels and local programming. For those individuals who have lived and died by the Big Three and their programming, this creates a major drawback. Think of those young adults who are loathe to cut the cord with their parents. To some older viewers, the thought of losing contact with major network programming is akin to how some young adults feel about doing their own laundry, making their own meals and remembering to wake up on their own. Daunting.

Smithville Streaming TV’s package includes major networks as well as local programming. Paired with another streaming service of the viewer’s choice, there is nary a hiccup in viewership. The biggest change? Monthly fees. Streaming services are significantly less expensive than traditional cable TV subscriptions. Even when choosing two or three streaming options, subscribers will save more and have access to (1) channels they want to watch, as well as (2) original programming that is not otherwise available.

Ready to get started? Before you do, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into. While streaming has its strengths, for those who have been long-time TV subscribers, there may be a paradigm-shift pain point or two. To help with that, we’ve created a Cord Cutters Guide. It will provide insight into the changes to expect, the technology you’ll need, and the benefits you’ll reap.

Once you’re ready to cut the cord, give us a call at (800) 742-4084. Our customer service representatives can answer your questions and talk you through the process. A lot of us are cord cutters, too, at all levels. While we can’t do your laundry or make you Mom’s mac ’n cheese, we can help you emancipate to the freedom streaming TV allows.

CES 2017 (Consumer Electronics Show) Recap

For many the start of a new year means new beginnings. For me it means it’s time for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2017).

Consumer Electronics show CES 2017

CES 2017 is the 50th Anniversary

This was the 50th year for CES, and it was the biggest show yet. While the standard awe-inspiring tech was in full force, there was an overarching theme of technology making life better.

What’s it like to be at CES 2017? In a word: overwhelming. With over 165,000 attendees, 3,800 exhibitors, and four main show locations around Las Vegas, preparation is key.

Weeks before the show I contacted vendors we’ve worked with in the past to arrange meetings. I used the CES app to schedule my time and work around keynotes, classes, and other events. I had to mentally prepare myself that I’m not going to be able to see everything and prioritized certain areas over others.

While the driverless cars seem cool (and they work!), I knew the TV and gadget areas were more relevant to me and deserving of my time and attention. I also scheduled in a little fun, including a trip to Milk Bar for a cereal milk milkshake. If you’re in Vegas I highly recommend it.

While the show floor offers the latest and greatest much of the value from CES comes from data on consumer electronics trends. I learned what worked in 2016 and what’s to come in 2017. The big takeaways were that virtual reality and connected homes will be the big focus areas for 2017.

Non-Tech Tech

This year was groundbreaking for companies not normally thought of as tech companies at CES, and I see this trend continuing in the future as everything embraces and includes new technology.

The show had many exciting keynotes, where tech companies reveal their latest innovations. Carnival Cruise Line launched a new “Ocean Medallion” wearable on Princess Cruises which helps manage the customer experience from start to finish. Before the trip passengers can log on and see all the events and activities available to them and plan their itinerary.

Carnival Cruise Line launched a new “Ocean Medallion” at CES 2017

While on the ship there will be several areas that customize to the passenger. When entering an elevator or stopping on a new floor, touchscreens will welcome the guest by name using self-selected personalized colors. More than just an event planner, it has an algorithm which analyzes your interests and free time to provide suggestions for activities.

Under Armour also introduced a new line of sleepwear that uses ceramic to stimulate blood flow and muscle recovery while sleeping. Sorry Colts fans, Tom Brady is the face of the $200 sleepwear sets.

Emerging Trends in Home Automation

Home automation and security is one of the fastest growing areas of CES 2017. There were many different types of security systems but the most advanced of all is Honeywell’s Lyric system. Lyric works as your home’s hub and integrates Skybell video doorbells, water and heat sensors, cameras, and thermostats. Best of all, you can get Lyric in your home today with Smithville Security.

Honeywell’s Lyric system from Smithville Security

Ever want a light bulb you can control with your phone? TP-Link’s new bulbs connect to Wi-Fi and work with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant so you can tell Alexa to turn on or off, dim, and even change the color of your light bulb.

I must admit I thought this was a crazy idea but I’ve already put one in my house, and we now sell them at our store. Alexa was everywhere, and that provided a path to the future using voice commands. You’ll soon be able to talk to your fridge, TV, oven, thermostat, and more.

Kid’s Play at CES 2017

An emerging area for CES 2017 is tech for kids. Even the rubber ducky has been advanced with technology. Edwin the Duck is an app-connected rubber ducky that works as a Bluetooth speaker, thermometer, nightlight, and learning device.

Edwin the Duck at CES 2017

Technology Will Save Us has do-it-yourself tech kits to engage kids in technology and learning. Kids can make their own fitness tracker, speaker, and game console. Look for these exciting products in stores soon.

Televisions Continue to Evolve

In 2016, the average TV size sold was 44” and the average home has 2.8 televisions.

My favorite product of CES was LG’s 77” wallpaper-thin TV. This changes what you think of when you think of a TV. At only 2.57 mm thick it’s thinner than an iPhone. The innovative sound bar also holds all the inputs, allowing for the TV to be super thin. At a price of nearly $12,000 you won’t find many people rushing to buy this yet.

In Conclusion

While CES 2017 was another ground breaking event for new tech I was amazed at how technology impacts every part of our life and makes our life better. From sensor technology that allows cars to drive themselves and eliminate road injuries and deaths to virtual reality that allows those who can’t move to travel the world, the possibilities are endless.


Ryan Lentz is the Store Manager for both Technology Powered by Smithville stores, located in Bloomington and French Lick. You can contact him at (812) 935-2272 or via email.

Hold, Please

You know the rigmarole…

“Please hold. Your call is very important to us…” Cue the twangy off-key music. There is nothing more irritating than needing immediate service and being placed on hold, unsure when or IF anyone will pick up to address your problem.

If your call is so important, why are you on hold?

Average Hold Times

Did you know the average person spends 1.2 years on hold over their lifetime?

The help website, GetHuman, offers the contact numbers and strategies for speaking with a human for many larger companies. The average wait times are listed for several national telecommunication firms (as of mid-May 2016). They include:

Company Wait Times

AT&T: 13 minutes

Comcast: 29 minutes

DirecTV:  8 minutes

Hold time expectations are notoriously grim in the communication industry. Rather than waiting online, many customers hang up or try their hand at self-help, looking for solutions online. Unanswered phone calls are practically cliché for cable, television, and phone companies.

When You Call Smithville

One of the consistent comments we get at Smithville is the speed, efficiency, and friendliness of our customer service. You won’t be bounced to a call center on another continent. Instead you will speak with a local, knowledgeable support person who can address your problem immediately.

And, you may ask, how fast is “immediately”?
At Smithville, we answer our calls off from hold in 13 seconds. Not 13 minutes.
Of course, there is the occasional exception. But the average time to reach a live human being at Smithville is 13 seconds. Really.
That’s pretty fast.

Smithville Fiber is proud to employ Hoosiers helping Hoosiers. Quick and local service is just another reason to Switch to Smithville.

Less downtime. More playtime.

Four words. They mean a lot. Since 2008, when Smithville secured financing for fiber expansion, we took on an ambitious goal. We saw the incredible short- and long-term impact that fiber could have on communities, on businesses, on individual lives. With many decades of hands-on work with our legacy communications systems (much of which is still working well beyond the limits for which it was originally designed), we saw that the future of communications was fiber based.

What does that mean for you?

We set out back then on what has now become a $100 million project. We knew what a fiber platform would mean for our customers and for Hoosiers. So we began converting to a fiber platform. Now, some 2,500 miles of fiber later, Smithville has the privilege of introducing true Gigabit symmetrical fiber-based Internet – 1,000 mbps up and down – in the state of Indiana. We’re in the process of building Indiana’s first true GigaCity in Jasper, and we’re taking this latest fiber Gigacity technology to places like the Blue Ridge neighborhood in Bloomington. More will be coming.

Fiber means a lot to the state and to our customers. It brings many advantages. That’s why with Smithville Fiber, we can lay claim to the statement: “Less downtime. More playtime.” If you have fiber-based high-speed Internet at work, you can probably get more done in a day. If you have reliable Smithville fiber at home or at work, you have less downtime. That means you have more playtime, time to do things that you want to do.

That’s why many say that the “killer outcome” of fiber is more time. Time to work productively. Time to get things done with less frustration. Time to have fun online with your kids. Time to run home applications that improve your life. Perhaps most important of all: more playtime.

If you’re not yet a Smithville Fiber customer, we hope you’ll think about it. If you’re already a Smithville customer, we thank you.

I personally invite you to come back to this space regularly for more information. Thanks for visiting.