Tips on shopping for Internet service

Promotional rate plans are about to expire for many traditional cable customers. Nationwide, 33% of customers will see a rate hike soon. And it’s even higher for Comcast customers — 42% will see a higher bill.

That’s according to a recent study by researchers at Cowen who surveyed 1,021 cable customers. 

What’s even more shocking is that 57% of customers are not on any kind of promotional rate plan — paying full price for cable TV.

Depending on where you live In the Grand Rapids area, you basically have three choices for providers of broadband Internet — plus a fourth new choice. I’ll cover each of the providers and give you some insight on how to get the best value.

Negotiating Tips

The first thing you need is to know how much you’ve been paying for the Internet. With bundled plans, the Internet portion of the bill is probably less than what you’ll pay by going Internet-only. Don’t let that dissuade you from switching to Internet-only — the big savings will come!

It’s also worth knowing how much the bill has increased over time, how long you’ve been a subscriber, and any service issues you have.

Second, you’ll want to know what the competing Internet providers in your area charge for the same type of service for new customers. This is one of the main ways to negotiate a lower rate from your current Internet provider.

The cable companies are bleeding customers at a rapid rate. (They lost 8% of their customers in 2019, and that has not slowed down.) At this point, they’d rather keep you as an Internet-only customer than see you totally go away.

Third, don’t be afraid to play hardball … politely. When calling the cable company, you’ll have to go through at least two people, and probably a third, to really get the lowest possible rate. You will literally need to go to the very edge of cancellation with the “retention specialist” who will finally offer you the best deal. The first one or two people you talk to will give you slight reductions, not the final offer. Hold firm — you know what the competition offers and insist that your current provider match it.

Fourth, if your contract is coming up for renewal, insist you get the promotional deal they offer to new customers. It’s only fair!

Comparison Shopping

To make life easier, you can use the following sites to shop what Internet Providers are available and the prices of each.

Internet Providers

Here are the basic prices for Grand Rapids area Internet providers. Please look at the fine print for each. It’ll often spell out a rate increase after 12 months if not cancelled prior. Also, there may be additional fees for going past the data cap or cancelling early.

Xfinity (aka Comcast) covers much of the area and has a variety of Internet-only plans to fit most needs. From my conversations with clients, Xfinity’s data and personal service has improved in the past year. Most people seem to be pretty satisfied with it.

Pricing for new Xfinity customers looks something like this.

  • 25 Mbps – $20/mo
  • 100 Mbps – $40/mo
  • 200 Mbps – $50/mo
  • 300 Mbps (Extreme Internet) – $50/mo
  • 600 Mbps (Extreme Pro Internet) – $60/mo
  • 1000 Mbps (Gigabit Internet) – $70/mo
  • Gateway modem/router  – $14/mo

AT&T U-verse is common in the Grand Rapids metro area. The service used to be fantastic at a lower price. But it seems like that’s changed. Most U-verse customers I talk to report having to reboot their modem on a regular basis. And their basic residential speed is capped at 100 MBPS. While that’s workable for streaming video, it’s at the low end and doesn’t give much overhead if you have multiple people working from home, watching TV, or playing online games.

Pricing for new AT&T customers is standard:

  • 100 Mbps at $50/month, plus $10/month for modem/router.

Spectrum / Charter offers service to a lot of West Michigan, especially outside of Grand Rapids city area. Customers I talk to are generally pleased with the service.

  • 200 Mbps (Spectrum Internet) – $49.99 (some locations max out at 60 or 100 Mbps)
  • 400 Mbps (Spectrum Internet Ultra) – $69.99
  • 940 Mbps (Spectrum Internet Gig) – $109.99

T-Mobile is the newest competitor and one I think is worth investigating. Instead of bringing a wire into your home, T-Mobile offers 5G wireless service. Its service area includes Kent, Muskegon, and Ottawa counties.

Speed is not quite as fast as the competitors, but it may be enough for you. T-Mobile expects to deliver average download speeds around 50 Mbps or more though fixed unlimited wireless service with no dta caps.

The pricing and terms appeal to you:

  • $50/month with no annual service contract, hidden fees, or equipment costs

Need more help?

Find the right Internet service for you is just one of three key things Streaming Installers does for you.

We are on your side to help you get the best value for TV and Internet. To set up a free phone consultation, please select a time from our calendar.