- The Triple Play Plan Could Save You Money
- Drop long distance service for a landline
- The YouTube app will appear on Roku boxes in the coming months
Q. I’m paying too much for too little — almost $200 for cable, internet and phone. How can I reduce these costs?
A. You are certainly overpaying, and you are not alone: I have heard this complaint from many people, up to and including my own mother.
Your first, easiest option should be to threaten to fire your current service, then see what kind of discount they offer you to stay. If that’s not generous enough — as in, compare his price quote to the offers offered by his site for new subscribers — it’s time to look for alternatives and carry out your threat.
Assuming multiple broadband service providers are reaching your home, your mailbox has probably been filled with deals under $100 for “triple play” packages of TV, Internet, and phone services. They may look extremely attractive, but you have to watch out for TV equipment costs that are rarely included in these promotions and can add $5-20 per month, per device, for a tuner or DVR.
(Unless you want to watch only local channels and nothing else, the only way to refuse to rent a cable box is to pay for a TiVo instead. With satellite, you don’t even have that option. and you must rent the equipment.)
Do that math, and if a different triple play package will really save you money, go ahead and switch. (That’s what my mom did, in case anyone was curious.) But if you haven’t used all three of your current services much, you might find it cheaper to buy TV, Internet and the phone separately – or maybe get rid of it. of these subscriptions.
Of these three, television generally offers the most shopping freedom. As long as your home has a clear view of the southern sky, you should have three options: your local cable company and DirecTV and Dish Network satellite services. A lucky minority can also get TV from a fiber optic service like AT&T’s U-Verse or Verizon’s Fios.
But you can cut the TV cord if you have good over-the-air reception from local stations, or if you’re content with internet video services such as Netflix and Hulu (via a “smart” TV’s built-in apps or by connecting a box Roku or Chromecast Receiver). At a minimum, you can reduce some cable/satellite box rental costs to zero by switching a second TV in the home to broadcast or Internet only.
Internet access, however, allows much less flexibility. Most U.S. residents can choose between cable and digital subscriber line, but this second phone-based technology often fails to provide fast enough speeds – encrypt at least 5 million bits per second – for video in high definition streaming.
Using a portable wireless device like a MiFi or equivalent is an idea, but not a good one unless you don’t use the internet much. Wireless can easily hit the top 5 Mbps — and prepaid options cost about the same as many cable and DSL plans. But they usually come with data caps that prevent watching a lot of videos online.
(If you opt for cable Internet, remember to buy a modem instead of renting one.)
The least valuable component of a triple play package is phone calls: these deals usually include gold-plated voice service – caller ID, conference call, free long distance, and so on. – which is only what you get for free on any wireless voice. plan.
If you must keep a landline, drop all long distance service (you can make free long distance calls via Google Voice from a regular phone or via an internet calling app). Cut out add-ons like voicemail (get a cheap answering machine instead) and caller ID (let the machine screen calls for you).
With some carriers, like Verizon, lower the bill further by switching from a flat rate plan to a plan with a limited number of outgoing calls or a plan in which you pay for each call made.
But if you’re already paying for wireless phone service, the most cost-effective decision will be to follow the lead of more than a third of US households by ditching landline phone service altogether.
Tip: YouTube is finally coming to Roku
One of the tech industry’s weirdest schisms quietly ended in mid-December, when Roku announced the long-awaited arrival of a YouTube channel on its Internet media receivers. It’s already available on Roku 3 boxes and should make its way to other post-2011 models in the coming months. To see if it’s available on yours, go to the Channel Store on your device or see if you can add it through Roku’s site.