Man, Comcast. What a racket. You pretty much need to every year, figure out what the best plan is. I would actually put it into your calendar for a yearly check. So here is what I’ve found for 2020:
- They have a new charge system where they have “unbundled” the licensing fee. So if they try to sell you a $85 plan with 200Mbps internet and 140 channels, the actual net cost is $130. That’s because, there is no a “broadcast fee” for $10, there are separate charges for each channel. Their big push is to get these $80-110 double and triple plays so beware.
- Also, when you go to their website, the *DO NOT* show you all the available plans. In fact, there is really know way to know what the rates are to see what the individual operator will want for you. It’s such a hard core sell business that you cannot even compare rates online. The best I’ve seen is that municipalities at least print a whole price list like Seattle does. As an example on my change plan, there are only two options, the aforementioned $89 plan which is really a $130 plan with all the hidden charges and a $99 and $109 plan. But when you look on the price list, you see basic cable for $14. (Although, they have somehow figured out how to tack a $10 additional broadcast charge to this!, so it is really $35/month for basic cable now after all the charges). See below for why it makes sense to see if you can save $500 a year with an over the air antenna.
- As an aside, there is tremendous latitude at the operator level. For instance, in about 10 seconds, you can get 300Mbps and you just need to keep asking or hang up and ask again.
- The net is that you really, really, really don’t want to order too many channels. The cost is just incredible.
- Also, they will try to force box upgrades. We were told that Internet would not work without a new X1 cable box. This is of course not true, you tee off the cable box from the cable modem basically immediately. So don’t be fooled about that.
- They have given up on shilling cable modem boxes finally. To be clear, from Amazon you can get a $60 box that supports up to 600Mbps for basically nothing. The confusing thing is that they do not allow you just to connect a cable modem. Nor can you just move a box from one house to another. You actually have to call to have a cable modem box removed from an account. They tell you it takes 24 hours to remove a box, but at least for us an hour was enough.
- Finally, it is really confusing to actually connect in a cable modem, the magic is that when you plug a new cable modem in, you have to go to a magic url https://xfinity.com/activate then login with your comcast account and then your cable modem will be irrevocably bound to that house.
So what’s the strategy for I’ve been thinking minimizes costs
- See if you can get over the air HDTV. This is still the simplest way to get sports and the cheapest. Using Antennaweb.org, you can type in your address and see if you have any chance at all.
- For about $25, you can get a simple UHF antenna that you plug into your TV and you can see what you get. There are also boxes out there that will take that signal and convert it into a digital signal that gets broadcast in your internal network.
- If this works, then you can theoretically get an Internet only plan. This might seem more expensive, but when you figure all the “surcharges” it could be much cheaper.
- Also if you can get over the air and you don’t do much streaming etc., you should really think about getting a mobile hotspot, Comcast is getting to be so expensive at $80/month for 200Mbps. That by the way is bandwidth that most folks really never need, it could be much cheaper to take an old phone and add it to a T-Mobile One Plus plan and then run it with Personal Hotspot on, this will give you 20GB/month for $30/month, that’s not bad if you are not a big data user.
- Most of the channels you want come in “over the top” (OTT), so if you want HBO, subscribe, Netflix (which is free with T-mobile FYI), you will probably save a bit particularly if you use an nVidia Shield or Apple TV or Google Chromecast or Roku instead of a Comcast box. They don’t have the monthly costs for one thing and depending on your ecosystem are much easier to control from your phone or a tablet. Most modern TVs even include applications in them, so you don’t need these attached boxes.
They are desperate to get more revenue, so if you using Comcast, then make sure to take advantage of some of the stuff they offer:
- Flex box. If you do get trapped into a Comcast cable server, you can try one of these for free. Might as well, you can got to https://xfinity.com/flex and get one
- Norton Antivirus, they will give you a free subscription to this for your Macs and Windows machines.
- They do have a streaming application but this only works inside your internet and they still have commercials everywhere. Kind of maddening to pay for cable and still have to watch commercials.