The Best Guide to Cable Packages and Alternatives

Cable-Internet-Phone Packages

With services such as telephone, cable television and internet all avaialbe from the same companies, a number of cable-internet-phone packages or "triple play" packages have become available.


Using the same company for your telephone, internet and television provider has a number of advantages but a few disadvantages. In this article, I will discuss the various reasons why you might consider combining your internet, phone and cable packages into a single bundle from a single company:

Advantages:

  • Prices: Perhaps the most obvious reason to combine your three services into one is the savings that you can receive from all of the various offers given by cable providers. Because they will all be using the same network they can afford to provide savings as they don’t have the cost of plugging into the network multiple times. As a result, you will find that you can get some very good deals from a triple play package. Here are some examples from popular internet cable providers:

    • Time Warner Cable: Triple-Play Time Warner cable packages range from $99.99 to $159.99, and include their broadband, high speed internet service, Road Runner internet, as well as unlimited calling to the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico and television packages of your choice. The range in prices comes from options in internet speed as well as options in television channels. Be aware that this promotion only lasts for a single year, at which point the cost increases to the standard local area cable cost.
    • Verizon: Verizon provides its own cable internet service called FiOS, a fiber optic system that into which they have invested heavily. It provides some of the best cable service in terms of quality. Their special offer is to provide a triple-play package for $89.99 for the first year, though this increases by $45 per month after the first year. Still, given the quality of the service, it is still relatively cheap. Unfortunately, Verizon’s FiOS is still very limited in its geographic area.
    • Cox Communications: Cox Communications provides its own television, digital phone and internet packages, starting at $89.99. However, unlike the other cable and internet service providers, this is a permanent cost. However, this service has less services attached to it than the other cable internet packages. For instance, the internet speed is only 3 MB per second, and it does not include any long distance calling. However, if you are looking for a cable-internet-phone package that is reasonably priced with no frills, you might consider Cox Communications
  • Convenience: Having your cable, television and internet on a single bill is certainly a convenience. This is especially true if you do not pay your bills online or if you find your bank’s interface difficult to work with. Most companies do a good job of clearly separating out costs into television, phone and internet costs, but be aware of any charges that are difficult to see the source of. For instance, you might have something called a “digital access fee”. Is that for phone or cable? It’s unclear, so you’ll need to keep your eye out for issues like that.
  • Synergy: If you’ve seen In Good Company, you’ve heard the term “synergy”. When companies offer multiple services, there are often ways in which you can benefit above and beyond savings. One of the most common of these is the integration of internet with your telephone service, allowing you to have more flexibility through internet phone service. For instance, you could work from your computer over VIOP through your telephone package, rather than have everything go through your traditional telephone. Time Warner cable promotions include the ability to combine your cable television with your iPad. There are a whole host of options like this.

Disadvantages

Flexibility: By far the largest disadvantage of cable-internet-phone packages is flexibility. Because you are purchasing all of your services at once, usually with at least a one-year fixed contract, you will be in the position where cancelling or downgrading one service is impossible. If, for isntance, you find that you are using more bandwidth than your package includes, you may be completely stuck or may suffer from some sort of charge for changing your package. As a result, look very carefully at the terms of any contract before you sign up. The terms and conditions can be tricky, so see what your options are if you need to make a change.

Cable-internet-phone packages are a great way of saving money online through the triple play savings and synergy. Just be aware of issues such as flexibility.