Less Beaten by Comcast – Local Channels with Locast

Cordcutting is all the rage. TV antennas are back in vogue for getting your local broadcast TV channels. The FCC still grants geographic monopolies to the networks even when you can’t receive a signal without a 100′ antenna mast. Comcast is expensive, and we all want to save money.

As the school year started up I found myself facing two problems, first, I didn’t have the upload bandwidth to accommodate working remotely while my two sons were also on Zoom calls for remote schooling. So I looked at the new comcast plans. I was on their 200 Mbps plan and with a lot of searching, I found documentation in my bill that the upload speed on that plan was only 5Mbps. After reviewing the other Internet only plans, I decided if I was going to make a jump, I might as well go to their gigabit offering. That way I would get 35 Mbps in upload, plenty for me, my two boys, and whatever my wife needed. The problem was I was on an old, grandfathered plan that included very basic cable, mostly the local channels. They didn’t offer that TV package with the higher bandwidth I needed.

Here’s problem two, we wanted local channels to watch football and the odd show or event (like that horrible display that was last night’s presidential debate). We’d mostly cut the cord on all other channels and have Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime, so we didn’t want a bigger TV package. Where I live, there is a large peak in the foothills between me and the broadcast towers so getting the TV channels with an antenna wasn’t an option. I had been using an HDHomeRun Prime with a cablecard paired to a Plex server and watched through my Rokus to get me DVR functionality. I wanted to retain this but I didn’t want to give Comcast any more money.

So I hopped on the internet machine to see what I could find, and I discovered Locast. This service offers television streaming of local channels when you’re located within one of their served markets. They are a not for profit and for a donation of $5 or more per month, you can watch them with no time limit and up to four simultaneous streams. This is great, I solved my desire for live TV and was $5 versus the $30+ that Comcast wanted.

But I still didn’t have DVR access. Then I found a clever little program someone wrote called locast2plex. The idea being that it mimics an HDHomeRun tuner and allows Plex to record from Locast. Perfect. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll link you to someone who already has a writeup on this process.

So with a little know how, and a little searching, I have Gigabit Internet and enough bandwidth for our remote work and school, and I’ve got local TV channels while not paying Comcast’s ridiculous fees to act as a repeater.