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What You Need to Know to Compare Telecom Companies
Over the last decades, your telecommunication services like Internet, phone and television have been bundled into a package of services. These bundles include many options and range from “bare bones” in the industry to packages that include home monitoring and specialized services outside of traditional television and cable.
Fewer choices have come with this bundling when you select a company to provide your cable television or your DSL internet. In many areas there may only be one company with an adequate service, giving customers no choice at all in the matter.
Fortunately, there are some choices when it comes to telecom and consumers can find ways to work within the system that currently exists. As you look through the various options including bundled packages and ala carte selections, be mindful of what specifically the company is providing. It’s easy to pay more for services you don’t need when it comes to telecommunications.
Look Closely at the Package Deals
You will have a hard time locating telecom services that aren’t offered in a bundle of some kind, but they do exist. Most offerings are bundled into package deals, however. DSL, cable television and phone services comprise the most common bundle, but there are other options out there. Even within the bundles you can find more bundles – channels are bundled into levels of cable offerings.
Read what’s in each bundle and ask about ala carte pricing. The price of each service will go up when it’s not bundled. But paying a bit more for cable television when that’s all you need still means paying less than you would for a package with two additional services you won’t use. Some companies won’t allow “unbundling” of services, but they may have some low cost bundles that aren’t heavily featured on their websites or promotional materials. Ask the sales representative about the lowest cost alternatives to see what your options might be.
Pricing Is Likely High
Even that the lowest cost package is still likely to cost more than you’d like to pay. Consumers often find telecom companies unsatisfactory almost entirely due to high prices. Couple a high price with an iffy service and consumers will provide negative feedback in a big way.
Pair up a marginal telecom company with an exclusive market and customers will be furious but almost powerless to do anything about it. In situations like these, it may be worthwhile to investigate nontraditional options for cutting the cord with telecom companies or satellite providers.
Services Provided by Telecommunication Companies
When you start the search for telecom services, you can expect to find bundles comprised of these elements.
- Television Services. You can arrange cable and local channels for your television through cable companies like Xfinity or Spectrum, satellite providers like Dish Network and DirecTV, or companies that blend various services like Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse. They will be bundled into tiers of services with basic channels costing around $20 per month and higher end packages with premium channels like HBO costing well over $100 per month. These costs do not include the fees and equipment rental costs that will also be on your bill every month.
- Broadband Internet Services. Fast internet determines a way of life in our modern technological world. Telecom providers offer internet services at varying speeds with prices rising as the broadband connection increases in speed and capacity. At the minimum level, broadband internet must be at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps). The more MBps your internet is, the better you can expect your connection to be.
- Home Telephone Services. Many households don’t use a home phone at all. Others have a bundled home phone service that they don’t utilize (but still pay for every month.). Still some people enjoy having a traditional phone service at home that doesn’t require keeping a cell phone charged and at hand all of the time.
- Phone services can be provided over the traditional phone lines or through cable and fiber lines. Still others arrange phone service over the internet by using voice over internet protocol, or VoIP. Fortunately, with so many options for phone service, this is one of the least expensive elements of the bundled telecom services.
- There are some telecom companies that provide specialized services like home monitoring for alarm systems and control over remote technologies like thermostats and lights that are connected to a central technology. These services may be a part of a bundle or they may be sold in addition to the traditional bundled services.
The Types of Internet Services Provided by the Telecom Companies
One of the most important considerations as you select a telecom company is what the company is actually offering you in terms of technology. There are many different types of wiring and services available, and not every company offers every type of an option.
- DSL. Digital subscriber lines, or DSL, uses the copper wiring that telephone companies installed years ago. DSL is considered slower than other technological options, but it is also one of the cheapest options available. You can arrange basic DSL service for Internet for less than $20 per month, but your speeds will top out around 1 Mbps which is far from broadband speeds. DSL works for basic internet usage, but is not ideal for anything that requires streaming. Extra equipment will be required which may mean additional fees as well.
- Satellite. In many rural areas, satellite is the only option for broadband. Satellite allows download speeds up to 15 Mbps depending on the type of the plan you select, and you can expect to pay well for the connection at more than $100 per month. While satellite television services often work well in rural areas due to the open sight lines, Internet can experience latency issues or a lag between requests and downloads.
- Cable. Cable is the first level of the service that will offer broadband services. The lowest tiers offered by cable providers aren’t actually broadband at only 2-15 Mbps, but those plans are more affordable at $15-$50 per month. Boosted plans can cost significantly more, but also have download rates that are much higher, reaching over 100 Mbps in some cases. These numbers will go even higher with data over cable service internet specification services, or DOCSIS 3.1.
- Fiber-Optics. The highest download speeds are available over fiber-optic networks. These networks are currently being designed and delivered by Google and Verizon FiOS in some US cities. The top fiber-optic options allow download speeds up to 500 Mbps, but most starter packages offer up to 25 Mbps for around $50 per month.
6 Ways to Pay Less for Telecom Services
Nobody wants to pay more for something than they absolutely do not have to. This desire to pay less might be thwarted by telecom companies, however. Buying cable and internet seems to be trickier than ever and telecom companies are in the business of making money – not explaining all of the options to you in precise details. Telecom prices are rising, but you don’t necessarily have to be stuck paying more. You just need to do a bit of negotiating to find the lower prices out there.
Check Out the Competition
Shop the competitors and see what the prices are being offered. Get a quote from the competitor and then call up your provider. Ask your company to beat the price their competition is offering. If they won’t beat the competitor’s price to keep you as a customer, simply take your business to the competition. You already know what you’ll be paying with them.
Take Advantage of Promotions
Every provider has promotions that they offer to new customers. Usually these promotions don’t extend to existing customers, however. These promotions usually run out after six months or so, and prices go way up. Sign up for promotions as a new customer and when your promotion runs out, either cancel your service and try a different company or call to tell them you’re cancelling and see what new promotion they can sign you up for.
Be Mindful of Your Limits
Some companies offer limits to the amount of a service you can expect with your internet package. If your internet package has a low price, it may also have a low limit. Some plans allow only 50 gigabytes per month while others allow unlimited use up to 1 terabyte. If you go over the limit set by the telecom company, you can face additional charges, have your access throttled or even be cut off until the start of your next billing cycle.
Eliminate Sports and Premium Channels
Are you watching sports constantly? Are you an avid follower of HBO? For most of us, the answer is no. Despite your lack of internet, you may still be paying considerably more for a cable package that includes premium channels and sports channels like regional sports networks or ESPN. Cut these from your package most of the year and just subscribe when you need to during your favorite sports season.
Ask for the Basic Package
Many cable companies don’t advertise their cheapest packages. Your cable company may offer a package with just a handful of basic channels for less than $20 per month if you ask them about their bare bones offerings. The standard set-up can cost you well over $50 per month and it’s likely you’re not even using most of the channels provided.
Look Out for Extra Gear Prices
You’re not just paying for cable or satellite services. You’re also paying for the receivers and, in some cases, the actual satellite dish. If you just want to watch the news a few evenings a week, you can get by with an over-the-air antenna to get the free broadcasts from major networks if you’re near a city. You don’t need to pay $50 per month to watch PBS or ABC. They are usually available for free with an antenna.
Cut the Cord
Finally, if you want to save the most money with your telecom company, tell them you don’t need them at all any more. Skip the bundles all together and opt just for a high speed cable bill. Then you can pair a digital satellite with online services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime to watch specific shows. There are more options than ever for cutting the cord using Roku, Apple TV and even gaming consoles like PlayStation.
Media is a way of life in our modern world, and with media comes the cost of accessing the shows, videos and websites we enjoy. One of the perks of such tremendous amounts of media is how many options we have for accessing what we want to enjoy. Often this means you have multiple options for trimming away the fat in your telecom budget by removing the things you don’t need and focusing instead on the types of services you really want.