If you’re shopping for broadband, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about “bundles” or “Triple Play deals.” You probably know the basics: two or more services combined on a single bill for cheaper than they would cost separately.
What you might not know is how to decide which plan is right for you. Bundles can save you money, but they can also be used to upsell you service you don’t want or need.
Here are some quick and easy service bundle shopping rules that can maximize your discount and minimize the hassle.
The most common bundles are:
- Double Play bundles: plans that combine two services in one bill. Internet/TV are the most common.
- Triple Play bundles: plans that combine Internet, TV, and phone service.
Providers may offer multiple bundles at different price points, but they generally have one bundle that they advertise more heavily than any others, usually in the $85-$120 range. This generally means savings of $15-$30 a month off of the regular price of the services.
You can expect that most bundles in this price range will include the following:
- Unlimited telephone service with all of the major options (voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, etc.)
- TV service with all basic cable, some HD channels and possibly a few premium movie channels
- Internet service with download speeds from 5–100 Mbps and upload speeds from 2–20 Mbps.
Telephone service offerings are generally the same for most bundles, but TV and Internet offerings can be very different depending on the provider.
For TV service, some providers include many more HD channels than others and there also can be major differences in the number of Movies On-Demand titles that are available. Make sure you read the fine print if HD offerings are important to you or if you’re a big watcher of On-Demand movies and shows.
Internet service speeds can also differ greatly (just look at the ranges above), so make sure you understand your speed needs as an Internet user.
As we’ve mentioned before, Verizon Fios offers the fastest Internet speeds of any major provider, with 20mb/s download and 5mb/s upload speeds as part of their Triple Play deals in some locations.
Comcast is also offering faster speeds than other cable providers with their Powerboost technology, so look for a Comcast bundle if Fios isn’t available in your area but speed is still a top priority. If they are both unavailable, then it may take a little digging to figure out the fastest available connection that is part of a bundle.
You can check which providers are available in you specific area by entering your zip code here:
Know Your Needs
Bundles can offer a ton of savings, but do you need everything that’s included in the bundle like home telephone service? If you don’t, then you should consider whether or not a bundle is right for you.
In the past we would have said that if you don’t need all of the bundled services, don’t get the bundle (i.e. you use a cell phone and have no need for a home phone). It was a relatively easy decision because even though there were bundle savings, it was probably cheaper to just get the 2 services you do need at regular price, rather than 3 services at a discount.
Amazingly, this is not always the case now. Broadband Internet and TV service have become so competitive that bundle deals of 3 services are often comparable in price to 2 services at full price. If the price of the bundle is within $5-$10 per month of the cost of 2 services at full price, then consider getting it, especially if the 3rd service is home phone.
You may decide that you can use unlimited home phone service to cut back on your cell phone minutes, which can reduce your cell phone bill and get you back to your original cost basis.
Can You Commit… and Should You?
Many bundle deals now require a 2 or even a 3-year commitment, so find out if there is a length of service requirement before you sign up. We generally recommend month-to-month service agreements, so if that is available, even at a slightly higher price, you might want to consider it, especially if you are waiting for a newer technology like Verizon Fios or Google Fiber in your neighborhood.
On the other hand, if a bundle is available from the provider you want and you know that you will be in your home for the length of the commitment, then it’s probably not that risky to take on a service requirement.
It’s not likely that costs for bundles will drop much beyond the $100 threshold, so you won’t be getting burned on price. Additionally, if your provider rolls out new services that weren’t available to you when you signed up, there’s a good chance they will go into effect for all customers, existing and new.
Find the Best Deals
Deals can vary by provider, so spend a few minutes checking for the best deals in your area.
We collect and aggregate the plans and promotions on a weekly basis. You can find our latest Internet deal listings here.
Some offers may include introductory rates that increase after the first 6 months to a year. Definitely take advantage of the cheaper rates, but know what you will be paying after they expire before making a decision to sign up.
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Jessica Sims is a technology blogger and broadband industry veteran. Her background as an administrator and customer support employee for a major ISP informs her passion for helping consumers understand their service options.