How to halve your cable/broadband bill

How to halve your cable/broadband bill

Summary: Another day, another Comcast broadband outage. It has been that way for nearly three weeks.

TOPICS: Verizon

Another day, another Comcast broadband outage.

It has been that way for nearly three weeks. Right around mid-morning EST my Internet access from Comcast croaks. I made at least 5 service calls with my annoyance levels increasing each time. Comcast dropped notes on doorsteps around New Year's Day informing customers they were upgrading the network and there may be sporadic outages--for a week.

Yeah right. Recent outages were way more than sporadic. Instead of upgrading its network, Comcast has been fixing it. With each outage, my desire to jump to Verizon's FiOS service, which offers more speed for the same money as cable, rose. Verizon has been laying fiber optic lines throughout my neighborhood and once those pipes are lit up FiOS service will be available. I'm also likely to ditch Comcast once FiOS is fired up.

But since FiOS won't be available in my neighborhood until at least March--Verizon says it lays the fiber optic lines and then works backward to its central offices--I needed to get by with Comcast. The solution: Gripe about my bill and try to get a break.

Let's face it: $124 a month ($42.95 for high-speed Internet) is a lot to pay for a service that croaks during crunch time. I wasn't a lunatic--only because I had a wireless card as Internet backup--but noted I wanted "a break on my bill."

"Let's see what I can do with promotions," says the customer service rep.

After holding a bit, he comes back with $9.99 for cable access for three months--just enough for me to see if Comcast stabilizes its network--and a substantial discount on basic and standard digital TV service. Once the math is done--factoring ridiculous fees and taxes--my bill will be at least half what it is now.

The moral of this tale: Comcast is hearing Verizon's footsteps in areas where they will compete head to head. My hunch is Comcast wouldn't be sweating its network in my neighborhood if Verizon wasn't laying bright orange lines everywhere. Meanwhile, Verizon will have the speed edge--50 Mbps to the home. And speed kills.

Comcast knows all about this changing landscape--and it'll only get worse once Verizon rolls out TV service--so it'll cut deals. It's important that Comcast holds customers so it can potentially sell them phone service. Bottom line: If you have a genuine gripe call up your soon-to-be-challenged cable provider and cut a deal.

Topic: Verizon

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • 50 Mbps?

    Verizon's website only touts speeds up to 30 Mbps..and for $180/month. 5 Mbps is still $40/month. I pay that now for RCN's 10 Mbps service...where's the speed?
  • Added link

    that I forgot re the 50mbps reference.
    Larry Dignan
    • Switching Costs?

      I stand corrected about the top speed, thank you.

      While I think that 50 Mbps is incredible (I can still remember my initial amazement at 5 Mbps cable access), I think the cost is prohibitive. What incentive does a typical broadband user--one who is used to paying $40/month--have to switch to FiOS? At the same price, the speeds are similar. I suppose you could argue that the costs will eventually come down? When do you expect this high of a speed to become the 'norm'?
      • switching costs

        Mid-tier Verizon fios

        comes in at $49 for 15Mbps, although folks I know that have it claim to get faster speeds on midtier service.

        for the roughly the same price $42.95 you get 6mbps.

        It's unlikely I'd go for 50mbps.
        Larry Dignan
        • The 2MB upload speed is what I'd go for...

          If I had Verizon service available in my neighborhood, I'd definitely go for the $49 15Mbps/2Mbps service just for the upload speed. I spend most of the day VPN'ed into my company's LAN, so the upload speed would make a big difference in my daily work routine. I probably wouldn't care if it was 6Mbps/2Mbps, it would still beat Comcasts current paltry 384Kbps upload speed (or 768Kbps, for $52.95/month)
        • The 2MB upload speed is what I'd go for...

          If I had Verizon service available in my neighborhood, I'd definitely go for the $49 15Mbps/2Mbps service just for the upload speed. I spend most of the day VPN'ed into my company's LAN, so the upload speed would make a big difference in my daily work routine. I probably wouldn't care if it was 6Mbps/2Mbps, it would still beat Comcast's current paltry 384Kbps upload speed (or 768Kbps, for $52.95/month).
          • word up to that!

            i want better uploads damnit
  • 50 Mb/s

    Read the fine print. 48.5 Mb/s of that are reserved for video services.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Actually 50MB Downstream is Accurate.

    Cable will never be able to compete with Verizon once it's all rolled out unless they decide they will do what Verizon did and replace their coax with fiber. There is no comparison between fiber to the home and coax. Because Verizon uses a passive optical splitter and services 32 homes off that splitter it can easily achieve speeds of 20MB downstream. To achieve 50MB downstream they merely need to lessen the homes serviced on each splitter or run a second or third fiber trunk from the CO (Central Office). And of course ensure that the switches at the CO and within the core can handle it. They can run phone, data and video over this service and no regarding the fine print that someone mentioned about... I'd like to see where that is stated (lol). Typical video doesn't consume that much bandwidth.

    For more info see this:

    Verizon is increasing the maximum connection speed of its fastest FiOS Internet Service for consumers from 30 Mbps downstream/ 5 Mbps upstream to 50/5 Mbps, and lowering the price of that offering by $40 per month. In addition, Verizon has pumped up the speed of its mid-level FiOS Internet Service for consumers from 15 Mbps downstream /2 Mbps upstream to 20/5 Mbps. Speeds for small businesses have been increased as follows: 15/2 to 20/5, 5/5 to 35/10 and 30/5 to 50/10.
    • good info

      although I gotta admit I'm conflicted between Comcast and Verizon. I had some DSL hell back in the day with Verizon. New pipes, new experience. ..I hope
      Larry Dignan
  • Don't cable companies have mini-monopolies?

    Which is why Comcast is only available in certain parts of a city and not others, and vice versa -- which is why if I wanted to go to the competitor they merely tell me "Sorry, we don't service your area!"?

    As much as I loathe Verizon, I'll happily tell them to sock it to Comcast.
    • Worse in Canada (at least Toronto)

      Here, the cable company has a total monopoly. That's why Rogers can talk about "cutting edge" high speed with a high-end 6 Mbps internet package, while an hour away, Cogeco offers 15 Mbps download for the same price. Even their Home Phone service (no, not VoIP) is more expensive than Cogeco's, but no worries for uncle Ted (Rogers) because I can't get Cogeco's service where I am.
    • RE: Don't cable companies have mini-monopolies?

      It is most unfortunate that there are some areas of the country that promote cable/internet monopolies as a means of drumming up revenue. My home in Titusville, Florida is not able to get anything but Brightwire(?) because the city council can get more money by delivering a captive audience. That crap should be made illegal by state laws.

      At the house in Jacksonville, I have a choice of multiple cable/internet services and several wireless internet services. I was especially pleased by Clearwire. I had 0 outages for the year That I had it. Unfortunately my "soon to be" employer requires hardwired DSL because of "diagnostic" reasons so now I'm subject to ATT. Comcast is still "the pits" in Jax.
  • Competition rules [nt]

  • Verizon sold me out!

    I had enough last spring and begged Verizon to run the fiber up to my block. I even offered to help pull the cable. But this week Verizon made it official, they are selling all the services in my state, except wireless, to someone else.

    So will the new company pull fiber to my house, doubtful. They are talking about DSL, who wants DSL!? Why is anyone still trying to expand slow poke DSL when even fiber at 50Mbps is considered slow compared to service available in other countries.

    I think I am getting the hose here!
    • Verizon sold me out!

      I highly doubt that you would want dialup, DSL isn't too bad if thats what has to be. Good things take time sorry to say. Comcast was charging me over $70.00 a month for 10mb download service. I went to ATT DSL for 12.99 a month for 1.5 mb down. Sure, it's a lot slower, but it still beats dialup hands down and for the money. I would really appreciate any info on this new verizon trunk. Does anyone have a link or do I just do a search for verizon.
  • Comcast forecast..

    The company is floundering..but you will not see that in its stock price..their service has reached pathetic proportions..and the pattern of going downhill is undeniable.. financial analysis does not catch that..I sold all CMCSA shares the minute they touched 40..

    I went in for their internet-cable-tel package when I moved in and regretted it from day 2..the tel service has terrible quality and is not compatible with the alarm system..the cable quality is not great (and I have a HDTV set top box) and the internet service - do not get me started.

    Since I cancelled 4 3 months back, they have not bothered to pick up the equipment - I called more than 3 times to remind them that I have cancelled and to stop sending me bills and pick up their equipment..when I last checked all their stuff was still sitting in my basement.

    ....subscribers are attriting like out for symptoms in the next set of financials they release..
  • Comcast SUCKS!

    I dropped comcast the week before thanksgiving!

    I lived in an Adelphia served area, and was pleased with my high speed internet and digital cable package. I only had to call Adelphia twice for technical service that I can remember and both times it was to have my email password changed because I had switched boxes(new computers) and couldn't remember my email password. I never had to wait on hold longer than 5 minutes.

    So, because comcast bought Adelphia, we knew we were getting switched. One weekend my service stopped working. Cable still worked. What was up? Called Adelphia and got the Comcast onhold message. I was on hold for 1hr, and when I finally spoke to someone, they told me there would be intermentent outages because they were switching us over to comcast service, but once the switch was complete, everything would be set. This was a Saturday night around 5pm. Got home that night around 10pm and everything was working again. Good. Sunday everything seemed to work ok. Monday morning everything was working. Came home from work Monday evening and no cable, no internet. Called up tech support. Seems that we had put in a request to have our cable disconnected!?! I assured them that no such request had been made. Thinking maybe a payment had not been received or something like that, I had them check. No, we were up to date with our bills, only owed current month and not due yet. Back to sales since they had actually sent someone out to the house to diconnect the service. Spoke to this person, obviously somewhat upset by this point, especially since I use it for work and occasionally get paged late night/early morning. Don't feel like driving into office so I work from home. This person told me that he was sorry, that they could work out some deal and that he would expedite reconnection, probably the next day, but that his supervisor would call me that night. Call never came. Next day at 2pm service still not on. Pretty much hopping mad by this point.

    So I call Verizon to check into their service. Less speed, half the price for internet, of course no cable service yet, but they do offer cable dish, 2 rooms free installation and equipment, more channels, $40 month. With bundling, I would be paying less for cable, phone, and interenet than I paid for cable and internet from Adelphia. Ok, so I know my options. I call Adelphia to inquire as to why my service isn't connected yet. Wait on hold for 45 minutes. I'm just angry at this point. Finally talk to someone, ask why I'm not reconnected yet. I am told that because of the switch they are busy and won't be able to reconnect me until November 29th or first week in December. Too bad that they had goofed. I told them they had two choices, restore my service by the next day AND give me 6 months at half of what they were charging me currently, or shove it. They chose the second option. So, I called Verizon back (did I mention that Verizon seems to answer their phones very quickly) and didn't wait on hold more than 5 minutes. I ordered the internet service, changed my phone service, and declined on the cable dish. They told me that it would most likely be a week before I received my DSL modem and before they could turn me on. That was on a Tuesday around 3:30pm. Wednesday I went home for lunch, and the DSL modem was on my front porch! WOW!!! Ok, so I still have to wait a week for service. Friday I get home for lunch and have a message from Verizon that everything is set to go and I can hook up my DSL Modem. WOW again. I'm online!!! Well, not quite, their self installation disk didn't work because I had built a new box that I had installed Windows VISTA Ultimate x64 Gold on to test. Well, called Verizon support, expecting the worst, Sorry we don't support that yet. Instead they told me that they didn't support it yet, but they had done some training on it and that they would try to help me. And help me they did. 1/2 hour later I was up and running, connected and everything.

    That is service!!! And I haven't looked back. We're going without cable for now, kind of sucks, but we're saving money, and the internet service has been flawless!!!

    As for speed, well I was told by Comcast that I had 6mb service with Adelphia and that standard high speed with Comcast was 4mb for the same price as what I was paying for my 6mb with Adelphia. I was going to get charged extra for same service on Comcast, not to mention the increases they had already announced for their reqular service. With Verizon I paid the extra to get the 3mb service, which is $30 a month as opposed to $20 a month. Ok, lets give it a try I thought.

    Well, here's what I can tell you, and there are other variables in here, but I think that it is a pretty fair comparison.

    Before the switch, I had downloaded Windows VISTA ISO and OFFICE 2007 ISO from Microsoft and it averaged 500kbs with a peak of 596kbs. I repeated the same download at approximately the same time of day after I switched to Verizon. This time I averaged 350 kbs with a peak of 356 kbs. So definitely slower, but not bad. I repeated it again late at night to see what the results where and they were about the same, just a little higher but not enough to make a major difference. One last test, I repeated it from work during a weekend, using our T1, which of course is split between services. ANyway, at work I averaged 190 kbs. Took close to 8 hours to do same as what I had done in less than 5 at home, and what took around 3 hours the first time.

    So, the Verizon service is slower, but except for downloads, I can't tell any difference. The service is fast enough for streaming media and pages load quickly. We use Skype and I haven't noticed any differences. I listen to Sirius online, and no problems with that. And I've done a couple of streaming video and again no problems. So, overall, I think that Verizon offers a quality product at a great price. Can't wait for them to begin offering cable in my area (may be a while as we are in a smaller city). I haven't decided yet if I will get the cable dish. So far I've missed cable a little, but have become more active, and thinking that thats not such a bad thing.

    Anyway, COMCAST SUCKS, so if you have the ability, I would recommend getting rid of them. Explore your options.
  • Happy with FiOS in Denton TX

    I've switched from Direct TV / Verizon DSL to FiOS TV and FiOS 5/2 broadband and it's been rock solid since August. If they do go from 15/2 to 20/5 in my area I'll definitly make the switch because, as one reader has already stated, upload is critical with my applications.
  • Ex-Comcast client

    I agree with all the remarks concerning Comcash Greed and incompetence are commonplace. They just anounced a 3.2% rate hike for the same crummy service. I switched to Verizon DSL 3 months ago. Yes its a little slower than comcast (when it is not down or over crowded) but its also 30% less and does not have any connection sharing issues (after the NIC at the switching station) I wish I could say the customer service was great but the 3 times I've called concerning connection setup and Win Vista problems they would only go as far as thier equipent problems, not the Operating system.