Will Tivo Work Without Cable TV?

By Elle Di Jensen

FiOS Vs. Cable
i Arj: Wikipedia.com, Dodd M: Wikipedia.com

With commercial breaks increasing in length, even on premium, paid channels, innovations such as TiVo and other digital video recorders have saved TV viewers time and frustration. Many cable and satellite providers include a TiVo or other DVR if you purchase their services. As a result, TiVo has become associated with needing a cable subscription to be able to operate correctly. That is not the case. However, there are other requirements, including a TiVo subscription.

Telephone Landline or High-Speed Internet Connection

The TiVo subscription you buy pays for the updating service the company provides. TiVo needs to know what the TV programming guide is each day so it can record the shows you've programmed it to record. TiVo is programmed to call the service every day so the programming is always accurate, even if a network changes its lineup occasionally. This service requires TiVo to be connected to your home's landline phone line or high-speed Internet connection. The phone or the Internet line won't bring programming through the TiVo, however. You'll still need some sort of television signal to accomplish that.


Although TiVo can work without cable TV, it does need a signal feeding into it to be able to work properly. At the very least, you need a television antenna, either standard definition or high definition. By connecting the antenna to the TiVo, you can program it to record the shows you want to watch commercial-free, but it will be limited to the channels you can receive through your antenna.

AT&T U-verse

AT&T is mostly known as a telephone company. But as competition has increased in the marketplace, it has expanded into other mass communication areas. AT&T's offers U-verse television service. The service is delivered to your home in the same manner as Internet (Internet protocol) and is designed to require a standard receiver (much like a cable box) or a DVR, such as TiVo, to be viewed. As of May 2011, U-verse is not available in all areas of the United States and is available only in areas that have very high bit-rate digital subscriber line capability.


Wireless phone companies are offering bundles that include television, just like the cable and satellite providers. Verizon now offers FiOS -- an all-inclusive package for your Internet, television and telephone services. Verizon delivers TV, Internet and phone service over a fiber-optic network to an optical network terminal installed in your home. The terminal divides the signals, sending the television signal through a typical coaxial connection to your television(s). Much like U-verse, FiOS requires a receiver for the signal to be viewed. DVRs such as TiVo are designed for this, meaning you won't need a set-top box if you connect the FiOS directly to your TiVo. Ask your Verizon provider if FiOS is available in your area. Also, examine the offerings of other cellular phone service providers. They may expand their services to include TV and Internet services, if they don't already.