Traditionally, households have had to set up accounts and subscribe to services across several different provider companies in the area. You go to a local land-line telephone company to get home phone service; a local cable TV company offers cable programming; cell phone companies offer mobile calling services. Internet provider options are even fewer, where you have already used a land-line telephone service for dial up or DSL, even if you don't talk on that kind of phone service. Today, advancements in technology have made it possible to go through one company to serve all of your phone and Internet needs. Telecom companies call these types of plans, "bundles." Most households across America have at least three mediums for combining phone service and Internet.
Landline Telephone Provider:
- Contact your local telephone company, such as Verizon, AT&T or CenturyLink.
- Ask about bundle options that combine phone service and Internet connection plans.
- Inquire about the types of Internet services that are now available in your area, as the company could have upgraded it's network to support faster technologies. For example, many local telephone providers offer digital subscriber lines, or DSL, as a high-speed broadband option. Dial-up is slower, but many companies still offer these type plans for users who don't need much bandwidth. If you use dial-up, consider upgrading to DSL so that you can stream TV shows and movies from the web. The price of the bundle may effectively reduce the overall cost of DSL, which is normally expensive on its own.
- Give the customer service agent permission to bundle your phone service and Internet into one bill.
- Schedule for a technician to come to your home to upgrade your dialup to DSL, if necessary. Many companies send a self-install kit, instead.
Cable Television Provider:
- Contact your local cable television company, such as Comcast or Time Warner.
- Ask if high-speed broadband is available in your area. This type of Internet connection uses your fiber optic cable TV lines to transmit your data to and from the Web.
- Ask about "digital" telephone service that transmits your voice conversation over the fiber optic lines as well. Traditional analog telephone services use copper lines on telephone poles, but digital phone service in your home may bypass the old system altogether.
- Review the bundle packages that include phone service and Internet, in addition to your monthly cable TV service.
- Arrange for a technician to come to your home to set up the digital phone service and Internet broadband service.
Cellular Phone Provider:
- Contact your cellular service provider, such as AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile or Verizon Wireless.
- Ask the customer service agent if the cellular towers in your coverage area support Internet or "data" transmissions.
- Ask what type of equipment is required to use the Internet over the company's cell phone network. In many cases you can connect a regular cell phone or smartphone to the USB port on a laptop and use "tethering" to establish a connection to the Internet. Most cell phones have a built-in dialup modem. Alternatively, you may have to obtain a USB mobile broadband data card.
- Review the bundles that combine cell phone service and Internet. Sign up.
- Obtain a USB data cable for your phone or a data card, to begin setting up and using the Internet.
- Note that some bundles are temporary promotions. The introductory price may last a few months and then increase to a standard rate. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the promotion.
- A disadvantage of combining your phone service and Internet into a bundle, with the same provider company, is that if you fall behind on your payments, you jeopardize losing both services. Using different providers creates different billing cycles.
Sources and Citations
- The New York Times: Basics -- TV, Phone, Internet: Choosing a Provider of All Three; http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/16/technology/personaltech/16basics.html