The Best Guide to Cable Packages and Alternatives

Cable Companies

Cable companies provide a wide array of options in terms of their available cable packages, all at varying levels of price and flexibility.

Today, cable companies provide a number of different services on top of cable television. Cable companies can supply internet, phone service and even cellular phone services. As a result, choosing the right cable company is an important decision, as the company you will be working with will be providing many if not most of your communications technology. In this article, I will introduce the most popular cable providers so that you can make the most informed decision possible.

When looking for cable companies, there are three different things you should look for: quality of customer service, flexibility of service and price. Customer service is very important because things will go wrong in your service and billing at some point, and if a company doesn’t provide proper customer service, you’ll need to fight with them about correcting the issues. Flexibility is important because, the more you lock yourself into, the less likely you’ll be able to get quality service or even change companies should the service prove insufficient. Finally, you should consider price, as your cable bill will constitute a large part of your monthly expenses, especially if you include extra services.

I have written separate articles for all of the following companies. The following list will introduce the companies, however, so that you may have a basic overview of the companies and compare their overall levels of service.

  • Timer Warner: Time Warner provides the highest-quality services and customer service available right now. However, you pay for what you get. Expect to pay about $10-$15 more per month for comparable service. Nonetheless, if reliability, polish and good customer relations are important to you, they are likely the best option.
  • AT&T Inc.: AT&T only recently moved into cable from its traditional DSL service. It’s “U”-series of television provides reasonably priced services, though the savings for ordering multiple services is not especially large. Their customer service is still tied to their telephone customer service, so tends to be of lower quality.
  • Verizon Communications: Verizon is traditionally a telephone company, offering DSL internet. In recent years, however, they have begun to offer their FiOS fiber optic cable network, making them officially a cable company. Verizon’s FiOS system is top notch, and they have generous discounts the more services you purchase with them.
  • Cox Communications: Cox Communications has an excellent combination of low prices and high-quality service. The only real problem with their service is that it is inflexible; to get the triple-play packages, you’ll need to scale up all of your services at once. Nonetheless, if one of their services seems like a good fit, they are a good option.
  • Charter Communications: Charter Communications has had a lot of difficulties with customer service in the past ten years, leading to a blistering criticism by the Better Business Bureau. To date, little has changed. While their (apparent) prices are low, if you have other options, you should consider a different company.
  • Comcast Corporation: Comcast had a history of poor customer service, but in recent years has made a lot of effort to change their practices. Unfortunately, they have yet to live down the previous difficulties. Nonetheless, if you give them a look, you might be pleasantly surprised.
  • Bright House Communications: Bright House Communications broke off from Time Warner, and now serves many areas in Central Florida. They combine the quality service of Time Warner with easily-comprehensible package options.
  • Cablevision Systems Corporation: Cablevision is one of the oldest dedicated cable companies in the United States, and created by the founder of HBO. They provide service primarily in New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Their service options are very flexible, which is good, but it can lead to the options becoming confusing.
  • Cable One: Cable One provides rural internet service. They have expanded rapidly, and their hardware is not especially up to date and internet usage is especially slow. Nonetheless, they reach a lot of areas that other companies don’t target.
  • Mediacom Communications: Mediacom Communications focuses on servicing rural areas in the United States. They have expanded rapidly, leading to usage caps and less reliable equipment. However, if they are the only option, they are a reasonably high quality company.
  • Suddenlink Communications: Suddenlink Communications focuses largely on under serviced areas of the United States. They are not the cheapest internet company, but they have put effort into ensuring that where they provide service, their service is high quality.