The Internet's Best Guide to Cable Packages and Alternatives

Cable Packages

Cable packages come with a number of options, including price, added features and contract length. On this site, we discuss the various options and how to choose the best package.

There are a number of important factors to consider when choosing a cable package. On the one hand, you want to maximize the number of features that your cable package comes with. On the other hand, you want to minimize your cost and also your commitment. There are other factors to consider as well, including the quality of service provided by your cable provider. We’ve put together this website to provide answers to some of the most difficult questions that arise when choosing a cable package.

First, be aware of a general principle: cable providers are trying to sell you the most expensive, most binding package, not the one that is best for you. This is unfortunate, but true. If you call your cable provider looking for a package without a clear sense of exactly what you are looking for, you will most likely end up buying something that you don’t really need, or end up buying it for longer than you really need it. Phone operators are literally trained to “upsell”, offering you more and more services without any real regard for your own needs.

In order to find the best package, then, what you need to do is start with a clear sense of what exactly you want. First, all cable packages necessarily come with your local channels including public television. At this point, however, things become complicated, and you should be aware of the various options that exist with cable packages.

Cable TV Packages

In general, cable TV packages come in three separate tiers. First, there is the basic passage that you automatically get with any cable television package. This can often be purchased very cheaply, for as low as $10-$12 per month. Cable companies are required to offer this service by law, because the FCC does not want to see cable kill traditional networks. You’ll need to ask for it specifically, because no company will advertise that it exists.

Second, there are the cable-only channels, such as TLC, HGTV and so forth. You can tell these channels from premium channels because they contain advertisements. Normally, you can get a large number of these channels bundled together for a relatively inexpensive price.

Third, there are the premium channels, such as HBO. Other options include various sports networks. For some companies, you add these premium channels one at a time, but for others, you can buy them in tiered packages. Because these channels are solely paid for by cable fees (they have no advertisements), they can often be quite expensive. Be sure of exactly what premium channels you want before you start shopping, or you will end up spending a great deal of money.

Cable HDTV Packages

If you want HDTV through cable, there are a number of things you’ll need in advance. First, you’ll need a high-definition television. There’s no point in having the signal if you don’t have a TV for it. Second, you’ll need a special cable box. Many packages will include such a box, but be aware that if you intend to upgrade, you’ll need some new hardware. Third, you’ll need to make sure HDTV is available in your area. HDTV is not necessarily available in every location, so make sure you check in advance. It’s also important to distinguish between “digital” and “HD”. Not all digital television is high definition, so make sure that you are actually getting a high definition, rather than merely a digital signal.

HDTV is reasonably priced now, but is still more expensive than regular cable. Many television networks offer high definition versions of their own programming. Since it is more expensive, make sure you know what programming you want the HDTV for. Sometimes channels have “HDTV” versions of their own channel, but actually only show a handful of shows in HDTV. Get a cable programming guide, and check how many of a channel’s programs are actually high definition before you purchase.

Cable Internet Packages

Cable is a very good choice for internet. It is fast and stable. When purchasing a cable TV package, you will usually be offered the option of adding cable internet to your television package. There are pros and cons to this. The pros include the speed and stability. Your internet will be faster even than most high-speed phone service, and it will be less likely to go down than with those services. You won’t need to connect to the internet, as it will automatically be connected for you.

On the downside, cable internet uses the same stable IP address, which can affect the privacy of your internet searches. Many sites track users using their IP address. In addition, if your internet and cable are bundled into the same service, it can be harder to switch a part of your service if you are unhappy with it. Let’s say, for instance, you want to upgrade your television service. Is there a package with upgraded television service that includes the level of internet you currently have? You’ll want to check in advance how flexible the packages are, so that you won’t end up stuck with upgraded or downgraded services that you don’t want.

Cable Phone Packages

More and more cable companies are offering to include telephone, including reasonable long-distance charges, with their cable services. As with most cable services, this is a good thing, but you need to be careful. First, check what the connection charges are. Second, find out whether or not you can keep your phone number if you decide to leave the cable service. Finally, check the overall flexibility of the packages. As with internet packages, you may find yourself in the situation where your long distance prices are tied to your television package. Make sure that the company has the flexibility that you can change one part of your package without changing the other. The positive part of a cable phone package is that you can bundle together your phone, internet and cable into one convenient monthly bill.

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