The Best Guide to Cable Packages and Alternatives

Home Phone and Internet Packages

Making the best choice in home phone and internet packages involves considering everything from price to providers.

So you want to purchase a home phone and internet package? There are a number of issues that you should consider before making your choice. I have “bundled” together these questions into a single article, so that you can make the best choice of plan for yourself.

Question 1: How Flexible are the Services?

Perhaps the most important question to ask is what kind of flexibility of the services that you will be receiving from your phone and internet service provider. Fortunately, there are far fewer traps out there than are included in even the best mobile phone plans. However, you should be looking at some of the following issues:

  • First, you should look for a package with a short minimum term. Often, companies will try to lock you into a contract that is difficult to escape from, even in the long term. Many plans will expect you to lock yourself in for at least a year in order to take advantage of their best deals. This is perfectly reasonable. However, you need to be careful. Often the length of the term is longer than the length of the deal. For example, you might spend thirty dollars per month for the first six months, but be locked into another eighteen months at fifty dollars per month. This is often hidden in the fine print.
  • Second, you should consider the any possible changes to your phone service needs in the future. For instance, if your daughter is planning to go off to college in the next year, you may want to be able to change your long distance plan. Is that possible on the plan you are thinking of purchasing?
  • Finally, do they expect you to spend any extra money? Many companies expect that you will purchase or rent items that add to the cost. For example, many ADSL and DSL high speed companies will expect you to rent their own modem rather than use your own. This is added right onto the monthly cost. Others might even expect you to rent phones from them. Be sure to factor this in.

Question 2: How High Quality is the Internet Service?

Today high speed internet has become the norm, so much so that “high speed” has become basically meaningless. In choosing your home phone and internet package, you should consider the various types of internet service available, and how they interact with the type of phone that you have chosen to use.

  • Option 1 – Fiber Optic Internet Cable: Fiber optic internet cable is very fast and reliable service that runs on your broadband television cable. If you were to use a cable service for your internet, you would be using it for your phone calls as well, which would piggy-back on your cable. These systems use the cable that is normally used for television, but there is no reason that you could not use cable for your internet and phone but use satellite for your television. The positive side of cable is that it is incredibly stable. The downsides are that your service will become slower during peak times and you will have less privacy online, as you will always have the same IP address. Websites can track your returning visits because they can always see your IP.
  • Option 2 – DSL or ADSL: While this is a site about cable, it is worth noting the option of DSL here. If you are not using your cable for television, DSL may actually be a better alternative. The monthly minimum cost tends to be less than for cable, since you are using hardware designed for cable and not for something else. However, it also has downsides. At peak times, DSL can actually go down, which can be especially bad if you run a business from your home. In addition, you are often required to rent a modem to use DSL, with is added onto the cost of your monthly phone line and internet cost. On the positive side, though, you will have more privacy online, as you can simply reset your IP by turning your modem on and off.
  • Internet Service Providers: Finally, you should consider the quality of the internet service providers themselves. Do they have a reputation for quality service or are they a fly-by-night company? If your internet goes down, will they help you? Will mysterious extra charges appear on your bill? Look around for information about the quality of the ISPs themselves (such as our discussion on cable companies) to see which ISP has a reputation for good service.

Question 3: What is the Cost?

Finally, you should look at the cost of your overall package. I say “finally” because anything above a minimum level of flexibility and service is needed for savings not to be far more trouble than they are worth. Remember that you are purchasing both phone and internet, so you should look at:

  • Monthly Minimum Cost: Most plans have a monthly minimum cost, which is how much you would pay if you were away on vacation for the entire month. Be sure to check how much it is and how much it will be after any special deals run out.
  • Cost Per Call: Consider your calling needs and how much you will expect to pay for your wired or broadband phone calls. Most companies have just as many calling plans available as they do for regular phone packages, so be sure to pick the one that will cost you the least.
  • Download Limits: One of the most frustrating things in purchasing a home phone and internet package is that you might find you are downloading more than you thought. If you have a limit to your downloads, make sure that it can be easily changed or you could be spending for more than you had expected.

By asking these questions, you will be in a better position to choose just the right home phone and internet package for you.