After much debate, my wife and I finally switched our triple-play provider from Comcast to AT&T. And I'm happy we made the jump. We're saving money, and we didn't feel valued by Comcast. I started exploring our triple-play options months ago because the discounted rate I negotiated with Comcast two years earlier was set to expire and our bill was about to go up significantly for our bundle of phone, Internet and pay-TV services.
After much debate, my wife and I finally switched our triple-play provider from Comcast to AT&T. And Iím happy we made the jump.
Weíre saving money, and we didnít feel valued by Comcast.
I started exploring our triple-play options months ago because the discounted rate I negotiated with Comcast two years earlier was set to expire and our bill was about to go up significantly for our bundle of phone, Internet and pay-TV services. We werenít sure then that we wanted to leave Comcast, but we also didnít want to pay through the nose for our triple-play package.
Instead of deciding right away, I dithered ó and paid the price. Our discount expired, and our bill went up from about $135 a month, before taxes, to $160 a month, which was way more than we wanted to pay.
So my wife and I re-examined our options. We considered dropping our home phone service, but my wife uses it fairly often for work. We also considered dropping our TV service, but I wasnít ready to try to cobble together some kind of replacement using Netflix, Hulu and the like.
We wanted to continue the service we had with Comcast, which consisted of its 30-megabit-per-second ďBlastĒ Internet service, unlimited phone service and 85-channel ďDigital StarterĒ TV package. But the deal Comcast offered us would have required us to sign a two-year contract under which we would have paid $126 a month for the first year before taxes, $146 a month the second year and then $166 a month after the contract expired. Our only options to cut those rates were to drop down to a slower Internet service or get rid of our DVR, neither of which we wanted to do.
Comcastís inflexibility surprised me. Iíd heard that when customers threatened to cut off their service, the company would offer attractive deals to keep them around. That might be true in some cases ó but not in ours.
By contrast, AT&T was much more consumer-friendly. I was able to design a triple-play package that includes the 18-megabit-per-second Max Plus Internet service, which is the fastest AT&T offers in our area; the Voice 250 phone service, which offers 250 voice minutes; and its U200 TV service, which features 200 channels, high-definition offerings and a DVR. For that package, we will pay just $115 per month for the first six months and $125 per month for the next 18 months. Assuming we stick with AT&T for two years, weíll save about $324 compared with what we would have paid Comcast.
And that doesnít include a $200 gift card from AT&T that we can use to pay our bill ó or for whatever else we want to spend it on.
Even though our rate is locked in for two years, we had to sign only a one-year contract. So if we donít like the service, we can switch much sooner than we would have been able to with Comcast.
With the new service, we get more than twice as many channels as before and a DVR thatís easier to use.
To be sure, our new service isnít perfect. One way we cut costs was by choosing a phone plan with limited voice minutes. Iím a little worried that 250 minutes a month wonít be adequate, but at least we had the choice of a less-costly plan, something we didnít have with Comcast.
Iím also not entirely happy about our Internet speeds. The download speed is fast enough that I havenít noticed a difference from what we experienced with Comcast. But I worry that the upload speed is going to prove frustratingly slow. At 1.5 megabits per second, its throughput is about a quarter that of Comcastís, which could make things painful when I upload pictures, movies or other large files.
And Iím bummed that I canít set the DVR to record programs on a continuing basis via keyword search. With my Comcast and Dish DVRs, I was able to set up such searches so that they would record whenever my favorite team played.
But overall, Iím pleased with our new service. Itís great to save money, feel appreciated and get the overall service we wanted.
Comcast could learn a lesson or two from AT&T.
Troy Wolverton is a technology columnist for the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @troywolv.