Cable Television Programming Drops in Price and Adds More Features
Choosing the best cable service depends on consumer addresses, what services people want, household budgets and specific subscription packages that families want. Cable service providers typically offer television programming, Internet service, phone service and premium programming and connection packages.
- People who want to bundle services can save lots of money, but contracting for services that nobody uses would cost more than customers need to pay.
- Most companies offer low-cost introductory deals, but these might not make the best value when regular prices take effect.
- People who spend most of their time working, traveling or socializing might only need basic services.
- Companies offer a variety of programming packages, high-definition programming, digital video recorders and pay-per-view options.
- Connection speeds vary for casual Internet browsing, heavy online use and business applications, so choose a cable provider that offers appropriate Internet connection speeds.
Types of Cable Service
Cable systems offer crystal-clear reception, programming choices, special features and bundling incentives for consumers. Entertainment and connectivity choices prove discretionary for many people, so cable companies compete aggressively for customers, helping to lower prices and expand features and benefits.
People can choose from cable companies, broadcast television and satellite systems that broadcast programming from geosynchronous satellites to home dishes or receivers. People in rural communities often lack access to traditional open-air broadcasts and entrenched cable infrastructures, so satellite systems help them receive the same channels of programming that are available in metropolitan areas.
The best cable service might come from a traditional cable company, new fiber optic provider or satellite company. Satellite systems offer greater choices of programming for viewers in rural or remote areas than most cable companies provide.
Telephone service also shares signals with both cable and satellite providers. Customers can get their land lines from cable providers instead of phone companies, reducing the number of service providers they use. Frankly, many people buy home phone service as an afterthought because most consumers prefer mobile telephones due to convenience and portability.
Cable providers also offer Internet connectivity, which only takes up a small part of the bandwidth or transmission capability but provides hours of entertainment, social media interaction, online browsing and interactive activities. The best cable service for each home might depend on the special features that each company offers—like high-speed Internet for uploading and downloading files, viewing streaming videos and uploading pictures, videos and website content for social media participation or home-business websites.
Choosing the Best Cable Service
Consumers should begin by making a list of all the cable providers in their areas and comparing plans, features and benefits with their own needs. Cable subscription services use wires, cables or wireless transmissions, so homes must be capable of receiving the signals. Cable connections need interior cable wiring, and satellite systems must have receiving dishes and interior-wiring connections. The exterior of the property must also connect to the cable service.
- Find out which companies offer bundling packages and the most features at the lowest monthly rates.
- Extra features, such as high-definition broadcast channels or digital video recorders, might make some subscription packages more attractive than others.
- Ask questions before committing to long-term contracts. Internet speed might depend on how bandwidth is shared in the neighborhood, so find out how many families share the connection. High-definition television programming might require extra equipment or result in additional monthly charges.
- Find out how many customers drop service after their contracts expire. Customer dissatisfaction could indicate that companies don’t provide the best cable service.
Understanding Cable Subscription Service Issues
Cable subscription services typically scramble their signals, so consumers need descrambler boxes to decode the signals and send them to the television or computer. Companies typically offer lower introductory fees, but rates rise after grace periods expire, so consumers need to take the regular price into account when bundling services, ordering stand-alone subscriptions or switching providers. Other issue of concern to consumers include the following considerations:
Customer Service Standards
Some cable companies offer free installation and promise to wire homes and property to receive signals. Satellite companies might offer free dishes and receiver boxes. The FCC sets maximum rates for basic cable service, so customers can always choose a minimal connection that includes local channels. Satellite companies have no legal requirement to include local channels but usually offer them, sometimes at an additional charge. Regardless, cable subscription companies must answer phones to address service issues and billing questions. Customers should receive notices of programming changes and rate increases and have the opportunities to cancel contracts when these changes impact their service plans.
Some families want high-speed Internet, pay-per-view movies, hundreds of entertainment channels and special equipment to record one show while watching another. Most companies now offer some of these features, and online channel guides eliminate the need for consulting television listings in TV Guide or local newspapers.
The Right Bundle of Services
Home phone service might increase monthly bills but offer few practical benefits for most families. People who seldom have leisure time for watching television or browsing on the Internet might only need a dial-up connection and basic cable service. Bundling services makes an attractive benefit for larger families with multiple online users and television viewers, but single people might get all the services they need from digital broadcasts and basic Internet connections. Choose a stand-alone service or bundling option that makes sense for the family’s needs.
Most areas offer consumers multiple choices of cable subscription options, and the Internet helps people compare service options, prices and contract terms. Find out if there are any extra charges for equipment or premium services so that families can choose the best cable service for their budgets and entertainment and business needs.