Triple and quad-play service bundles (cable, Internet, home phone, cell phone) afford consumers a means of lessening the impact rising telecom services costs have on their pocketbooks, according to the latest subscriber survey on telecom providers from the Consumer Reports National Research Center.
“Our report revealed that although rates for telecom services have been trending upward, there are proven ways to save for consumers who act boldly and tackle these costs head-on,” Consumer Reports’ Electronics Editor Paul Reynolds was quoted in a press release.
“Also, our Ratings – of bundles from 14 companies, along with individual phone, TV, and Internet services from many more – show that most people have at least one decent choice in telecom.”
Looking to gain subscribers, telecompetitors are offering introductory discounts of as much as half off on triple- and quad-play bundles, Consumer Reports notes. Surveying 84,000 of its readers, three-quarters said they would “definitely or probably purchase the same bundle of services again.”
Verizon’s FiOS garnered the highest proportion of subscribers who said they’d sign up for the same triple-play bundle again among major U.S. telecom carriers. Verizon’s fiber-based triple-play bundle of TV, digital landline/phone, and high-speed Internet service received “standout scores for its broadband speed and reliability, TV picture and reliability, and even phone call quality and reliability,” according to Consumer Reports’ latest survey, which is available in the May issue of the magazine.
On a smaller scale, WOW is worthy of serious consideration in “a handful” of Midwestern cities, receiving “high marks for its bundled telecom service, especially for billing and support coordination.”
Consumers are missing out on savings by not bargaining for lower rates, according to Consumer Reports. “Only one in three survey respondents with a triple or quad play negotiated with their carrier, and many of them got a reduction in their monthly bill, fees waived, or an upgrade in service.
“About 44 percent of bargainers reported savings of up to $50 a month, and 7 percent chopped more than $50 off their monthly bill.”
Those residing in areas with two service providers “can play them off against each other. Among readers who had changed TV providers in the previous six months, 18 percent were offered new savings of $20 or more a month by their old provider if they didn’t switch to a new company or if they had switched but were open to coming back,” Consumer Reports pointed out.
Opting out of more expensive, higher-speed Internet upgrades is another way consumers can save some money. Consumer Reports notes, for example, that Cablevision’s Optimum service offers 50-megabits-per-second (Mbps) downloads with Boost Plus — a $15-a-month upgrade to the company’s regular Internet speeds, which are “up to 15 Mbps,” according to the company. But that download speed should be all that a typical household needs, even if multiple users are simultaneously doing bandwidth-hungry tasks, Consumer Reports advises.