It seems that everywhere I drive in our area lately, there are service trucks and huge spools of bright orange fiber-optic cable being installed in the ground. Our local cable company has had the really fast cable for years, and AT&T has lagged behind in speed as well as price. But now they are installing new cable, making a huge push to speed up their internet and re-gain customers that they have lost over the years.
At least twice a week we get mail from AT&T, telling us how our family will save money if we switch back to them. The most recent was an offer of $94.99 a month for TV, home phone, and internet service. The same deal is offered online:
When you click on the details, the fine print lists a 24-month commitment, and says you must enroll in autopay and paperless billing to get this deal. After the first 12 months, the monthly cost jumps from $94.99 to $137.99 per month. But the initial page just said 12-months. Is it a 12-month commitment or a 24-month commitment? Not sure.
On top of the monthly fee, you have “taxes, $19.95 activation fee, applicable use tax expense surcharge on retail value of installation, equipment upgrades/add one, and certain other add’l fees & chrges.”
Although it’s not a perfect comparison to the AT&T deal, let’s look at what our family is doing for phone, internet, and TV services:
Phone service: We have two inexpensive cell phones, and put a Simple Mobile $25.00 card on each month. While the final cost with taxes used to be $26.50 for each phone, there have been more surcharges tacked on, so now each phone is $28.13 a month for unlimited nationwide calling/texting, international texting, and 3GB data.
Total for both phones: $56.26 per month
Internet service: Early in the year, we turned off our internet service with Comcast cable because we had used up all the good deals. After about five months without service, we were once again considered “new customers”, and able to take advantage of the good deals. I found an online offer with Comcast/Xfinity for $19.99 a month for 12 months. It’s their starter level, which gives us the 25 Mbps speed – not the fastest, but we are able to stream videos with no problem. (This is the same speed internet that AT&T is offering in their deal.) We have our own router and wifi devices, so there are no monthly rental equipment fees. Amazingly, there are no taxes or surcharges on our bill!
Total for internet service: $19.99 per month
TV service: We had been checking out DVDs from our local library, or watching some of our own DVDs. But on Thanksgiving weekend, Hulu offered a deal so sweet that I could not resist: 99 cents a month for a year! It only allows viewing on one device at a time, and there are commercials, but our family doesn’t watch tv very much. So I signed us up, and we’ve been happy with the selection of programs to watch when we get the itch for a little tv. No taxes or surcharges either! We also have our over-the-air antenna on the roof, which allows us to watch free live broadcast tv.
Total for tv service: $.99 a month
The grand total of our phone, internet, and tv service: $77.24 a month. That still beats out the AT&T offer, hands down. Our next challenge may be to try to bring down the phone cost, but it will probably not be feasible to go down to one phone. I encourage you to take a fine-tooth comb to your family’s budget, and see if you can get a better deal on your phone, internet, and tv costs. Don’t forget to read the fine print!
To read more about our family’s experiment, check out these posts: