The Evolution of Cable and Internet Packages

Reviewed: March 23, 2016
By FinanceWeb

Not even 10 years ago, popular cable and internet packages were everywhere and included well over 300 channels, decent phone rates and internet speeds that, if a customer was lucky, would reach a few megabytes a second. Originally, cable and phone services would be packaged together by default and internet services could be added on for a hefty addition to the installation price. The most extensive cable services transmitted over satellite and dish services while phone lines were physically installed underground into the house network. Once the Internet became more reliable as a source of information and entertainment, standard service-providers began incorporating internet service at no additional cost along with phone lines.

Since those times, however, demands and needs have changed. With so many live-streaming services and news outlets available on the web, popular cable and internet packages now focus on internet access more than anything else. Providers add cable into the package to remain competitive, but the primary focus remains on quality internet access. In addition, cable is only considered competitive if it offers well over 100 channels. Satellite coverage is no longer being offered and services are transitioning to hard-wire installation. Hard-wire installation provides the fastest, most reliable service possible. Landline Phone service is slowly becoming obsolete; smart phones and independent providers generally replace the need for hard-wired phone service, though land-lines are still offered for the sake of convenience.

Popular cable and internet packages all focus on internet access that is high-speed with fairly low restrictions on bandwidth usage. Most families typically do not need to worry about bandwidth restrictions unless they have older teenagers or college-age children living at home. Internet speed, however, is fairly non-negotiable and important for a wide variety of tasks. Cheaper companies, such as Time Warner Cable, offer plans that go up to 50 Mbps (megabits per second), but any household that is fond of streaming videos and online gaming will want internet speeds of over 100 Mbps, such as those offered by Comcast. One fledgling company, C-Spire, installs fiber optic internet connections that can reach up to one Gbps (equivalent to 1,000 Mbps).

Families that primarily use the internet for gathering news, using social media and sending emails will not need any more than fifteen megabits per second. Downloads will be slow, but the connection will be reliable for those needs. Services such as Netflix or XBox Live demand speeds up to 50 Mbps; multiple users will demand a connection of over 100 mbps. A large number of available channels may not necessarily mean you will have plenty of viewing options; a surprising number of available channels may end up being pay-per-view or music channels. Be sure to check with your potential service provider if this is important to you. Phone service, while not necessary, should include the basics such as call forwarding and voicemail.