A Closer Look at Communications Options

man connecting cableEveryone has a different threshold when it comes to paying for services.   But not many are as hotly debated as the fee for communications services. There isn’t a one-size-fits all option and with so many choices, we must each figure out the best for our own households.

This was a recent topic of conversation amongst a group of my friends.  We went around and discussed our monthly fees associated with Internet, video and voice.  We found common ground in that we all:

  • Are regular consumers of video
  • Have similar taste in programming
  • Are on a fiber network

But that’s where our similarities end.  We use different service providers. And, we have chosen vastly different ways to fulfill our needs.  First, let’s look at the packages we have built and the monthly associated costs.

Telecomm comparison chart

Traditional Cable Service

The Triple-Play package has been a popular option for families over the years, offering robust lineups with a simplified billing system.  But adding on services, like modem rental, additional DVR boxes and the unlimited long-distance plan adds to the monthly cost. However, in a home that only uses the landline for phone service, this package makes the most sense.

The downside in this scenario is that 1Gig is too much internet for the home, considering that the devices in the house are at least 10 years old.  The network runs best with newer, and therefore more compatible, devices.  Even with one adult in the home, there is a lot of lag time and buffering.

There are hundreds of channels available on this platform, but no premium channels, therefore two streaming services round out the digital video package. Although paid annually (shown in our example as a monthly fee), which proves to be a cost savings, this brings the monthly fee up to be the most expensive option of all three.

Cord Cutting

Giving up cable doesn’t mean sacrificing viewing options, but it does require some research to find the best streaming services that meet the needs of the family.  In this scenario, the 1Gig internet is necessary to run all the devices, including security cameras, throughout the home, and they experience little to no lag when all their devices are running.

Through third-party vendors, many of the home’s streaming apps are currently free.  They have made concessions to keep costs down and their streaming packages will change from time to time.  The must haves are on a paid subscription, and the remaining services are likely to fall off until a promotion.

Live local sporting events are important to the home, but limited due to the streaming services currently in use. Major League Baseball blacks out the local team when they are at home.  And major networks that aren’t available on streaming services can be viewed using an OTA (Over the Air) antenna; however, this home is located in an area where the antenna reception is spotty.

The cord-cutters have two cell phone lines and are making payments on a device, so their monthly cost is $175. Add that to their monthly video and internet, and it comes to $289/month.

HTC TV Max

Group three (full disclosure, this is me) has also opted for a hybrid of streaming that provides traditional cable channels.  HTC TV Max  is a newer option, and while similar models are available from other service providers, this solution is specifically for residents and businesses located within HTC’s service area, in Horry, Georgetown and Marion counties. 

Unlike the other two options in the example, there is no additional fee for the modem.  And with cloud storage, there is no fee for a DVR box. The biggest upfront fee is the Fire TV Sticks for each device, and HTC provides one (or two) at the time of installation.  You won’t need a Fire TV Stick if you have a Fire TV or other device that will download TV MAX from either Google Play or Apple Apps Store. After the equipment purchases, there are no monthly fees.   HTC internet is required for HTC TV Max, but with Smart Wi-Fi (available in most areas at no additional cost) the internet performance is boosted. The result is a seamless experience, no matter how many devices are running off the internet.

Like the cord cutters, our cell phones have replaced the landline.  We pay $90 for cell service (two lines), bringing the monthly telecommunications charges to just under $300.

The Bottom Line

Once we add in all the telecom services, we see that our monthly charges aren’t too far apart, which was a surprise to the cord-cutters.    What have we learned?  Cutting the cord doesn’t necessarily mean less expensive, especially when you factor in ancillary services like mobile phones and security.  But paying for the all-in package doesn’t mean a better value, especially if you’re getting more service than you use or are running older devices on the network. 

It’s important to understand and prioritize the features and services that are most important to you, and the best and most economical way to get all of them.

And, when figuring out the bottom line, it’s important to include ALL the content and devices that you’re paying for to get an accurate account of what is being spent on telecommunications. 

HTC offers internet, video, phone, security and mobile, and members can save when combining services.  Learn more at htcinc.net.

2 thoughts on “A Closer Look at Communications Options

  1. It would be helpful if TV Max offered one or more less-expensive tiers. My wife and I pay nearly $200 per month for TV Max, Internet, and landline phone, and while we are keeping this arrangement for now, it is near the top of our budget. If the price goes up much more, we may have to drop TV Max. I wonder how many people can’t afford it, period.

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