Consumers have many different choices when it comes to broadband internet access. As the internet has grown, so too have the number of companies offering access to the online world. That level of competition can provide some great deals for consumers, but it can create a lot of confusion as well. Finding the best internet service provider is not easy, and making a mistake can be quite costly.
Most of the major telephone and cable providers now offer some sort of bundled service, often a combination deal on telephone service, online access and pay television. The details of these deals varies, but they are designed to provide simplified billing and a service package that is easy to manage and maintain.
A bundled plan can make a lot of sense, especially if you already get two of the three services from the same provider. If you already have an IP phone and cable television through your local cable company, adding broadband access to the package could save you money and make things easier to manage. If you like your local phone service, adding a TV subscription package and DSL access can make a lot of sense.
Of course there are some potential downsides to watch out for as well. Cable and telephone companies have been aggressively marketing their bundled services, and one of the techniques they use is so-called teaser pricing. That means offering a super low rate for a set period of time, after which the cost of the bundled package increases – often dramatically. If you plan to sign up for a bundling offer, it is important to find out ahead of time what the regular rate will be once the promotional period has expired.
Bundling all of your services together can also make it that much harder to switch providers if you find that the broadband portion was not as fast as advertised. If you decide to switch to another broadband provider, you will probably see the cost of the remaining services – like television and phone service – go up as a result.
In addition to the increases for un-bundling your service, you could face additional penalties for cancelling your broadband service early. Many bundling packages require that you stay with the package for a minimum period of time, often at least a year or two, or face early termination charges. Depending on the service, those early termination fees could erode any savings you enjoyed when you took the company up on its offer.
As with everything else, the key to getting a great deal on a bundled package of services is to do your homework and read the fine print. Having one bill a month to pay instead of three separate charges is certainly convenient, but in the end you want to make sure you are really getting what you pay for.