Internet users can now stream live TV using DirecTV Now. The streaming service offers an extensive channel list cheaper than most cable providers. USA TODAY NETWORK
The cost of cable television can be prohibitive for many consumers.(Photo: Getty Images)
Nobody likes their cable company. And nobody likes seeing the seemingly constant increases in their cable bills.
According to a September report from the Leichtman Research Group the average bill for cable television is $103.10 per month, a 4% increase from last year. And that's just for TV, Internet is not included even though many bundle them together.
So what can you do as a consumer about these rising costs? Here are some tips on getting your TV and Internet bills down.
Buy your own modem
Just as you need a cable box to watch TV, you need a modem to connect to the Internet. Unlike the cable box, which is still hard to replace, you can easily replace your modem.
Many of the larger providers including Comcast, Verizon FiOS, Time Warner Cable and Cox charge you an additional $10 per month to use their modem. Others like Optimum charge about $5.
With the exception of Verizon, most let you buy your own third-party modem and there are a variety of options on sale at Amazon and others that provide the same speed and service as your cable company-issued modem.
When buying make sure to confirm with your operator that it works for your provider and is certified for the speeds you want to get. Most providers have a list of approved modems. Here's where you can find the page for some of the larger providers: Comcast/Xfinity, Time Warner Cable/Spectrum, Cox, and Cablevision/Optimum.
Word of note: the cable companies can help troubleshoot connection issues but if your modem breaks they won't replace it the way they would with their own modems. They will, however, help you set them up. Just give them a call and they can help walk you through it.
Know the latest deals
Cable companies are just like the wireless carriers, constantly changing their deals around to lure in new customers.
As with the carriers if you want the better offers you will have to seek them out.
To find them head to your current provider's website, enter your address and say you are a new subscriber. This will give you a peek at the different deals being offered and you can compare them to what you're currently paying for.
You may even find you don't need everything you're paying for and can scale back your plan to save some cash. Or if you're lucky, find that you have another provider that offers service in your area.
This brings us to the final point: confrontation.
Call and don't be afraid to threaten to cancel
The last part is the key. As a consumer, you have some power in your hands, even if you're in one of the many areas around the country that only has one cable or high-speed Internet provider.
But your cable company isn't going to give up the money it's making off you on its own. In many cases, the best and fastest chance you have to get them to is through the cancellation or "retention" department. Make it clear that the option is on the table.
The cable companies have already done the hard work of laying down the cable and physically building the network. It's a sunk cost to them. Losing you means money left on the table.
Recent advancements in cell phone networks with 4G LTE data speeds means that even those in areas that lack cable competition can make a solid case for why you would consider canceling.
Explaining your high cost and concern over your current package will help get you a better deal.
And don't settle for a free trial of premium channels like HBO. This is often just the first offer. Offer some pushback and you'll be able to really see what is out there. If you're still not happy with what you hear, you can, and should, call back and try again.
Whatever you do remember to be respectful to the representative you're dealing with. It's not their fault the bill is the way it is, but being nice to them will give them more incentive to find you the best possible deal.
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