Cable and Internet ProvidersThere are a wide range of cable and internet providers. I will compare some of those companies connecting you both to the internet and to your favorite stations.
Before choosing a cable internet provider, there are a few things that need to be considered. First, of all, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- How much service and quality and I willing to exchange for a lower price?
- What speed internet do I really need? Am I just doing casual surfing, or am I watching a lot of streaming, high definition videos?
- How willing am I to consider alternatives, like DSL internet or satellite internet?
- Do I want to tie my cable television and internet into other services like my home or mobile phone service?
I will be using these points as a checklist as we go through the various companies. No single cable and internet provider will be right for everyone, and not all will be available in every zip code.
Cable and Internet Providers: The Contestants
I will examine the packages and policies of three different companies, Verizon Cable, Cox Communications Cable and Time Warner Cable. Note that these are actually just examples. The issues involved in choosing a high speed internet and television bundle will be the same, regardless of which companies are available in your area, including smaller companies.
Internet Provider Speed
The speed internet providers supply can greatly enhance your online experience. Having fast internet will enable you to watch movies without any of those little annoying “buffering” messages that will otherwise appear. Moreover, internet speed is expecially important for online gaming, where tenths-of-a-second can be especially important. Let’s look at our contestants:
- Verizon: Verizon has two different tiers of service. The first is their standard cable service, which is quite comparable to any other company. However, they have also created a fiber optic network of their own called the FiOS network. This costs an additional $15 per month in fees, but provides some of the fastest internet available online. Response time online will literally seem instantaneous.
- Cox Communications: Like Verizon, Cox Communications offers two tiers of service, but it is priced slighting differently. Instead of adding a charge to your bill on top of any plan, it simply comes along with its more expensive internet bundles. On the one hand, this is a good thing, as it can provide savings. However, if you wanted really basical television with highest speed internet, you’d be out of luck. Cox Communications won the PCMag.com reader speed test award for fastest cable broadband Internet service in 2010, so they are definitely one of the fastest out there at about 30 MB per second, so long as you purchase a more expensive cable and internet bundle.
- Time Warner Cable: Time Warner Cable offers what it calls its Road Runner and Road Runner Plus packages. Road Runner Plus offers up to 20 MB per second, which is fast enough for just about anything. It is priced like Verizon, and can be added to any other package.
Winner: Tie of Verizon and Time Warner All three companies provide faster internet than you could possibly need (unless you are single handedly running the SETI program or something). However, Verizon and Time Warner offer more flexibility.
So, then, how do these cable internet providers stack up in terms of price? Price for cable companies can be a little complicated, since they tend to include things like bundles, equipment installation costs and so forth. However, comparisons are still possible:
- Verizon: Verizon uses a pricing structure that rewards you for purchasing more services with them. So, for example, your cable high speed internet and cable television will actually cost less if you were to create a “triple play” package and add mobile broadband service. As a result, Verizon can be a very good choice in terms of price, so long as you use it exclusively for all of your cable needs, including internet, phone and television.
- Cox Communications: Cox Communications uses a similar pricing structure to Verizon, in that you can save money through bundles. However, the bundles are not quite so flexible. In other words, you can’t simply put your favorite internet, phone and television packages together. The bundles are all new packages with their own sets of features.
- Time Warner Cable: Time Warner cable doesn’t actually try to win the price war, since they focus on providing better service and believe that their customers will pay for what they get. In a way, they are the Apple of cable companies, with less flexibility and higher prices, but with more intuitive and user-friendly interfaces. In addition, their prices are a lot less tricky to calculate and their customer service is much better.
Winner: Verizon Verizon provides good prices with maximum flexibility. Just be careful as their advertised price is only good for the first year.
Are there any other good reasons to consider one of the companies over the other? In this category, I won’t be doing any direct comparison but simply reporting on some of the more interesting features.
- Verizon: Verizon allows you to store your photos on their network for easy access later. This is a nice little feature if you don’t want to store your photographs locally.
- Cox Communications: Cox Communications provides a free premium movie channel for a single year, if you purchase one of their internet packages.
- Time Warner Cable: Time Warner is constantly innovating. It is currently offering the ability to record a show in one room and play it in another room (something that is trickier than one would think) and even 3D television.
Winner: Time Warner Cable Time Warner is pushing the envelope in terms of what cable companies can do, and if you are looking for cutting edge unique features, it is the best company.
Each company has a lot going for it, but you will need to consider your own needs. There are many cable and internet providers who can provide reliable service to you.