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When should you bundle the Internet with other services at home?



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Uwe Anspach / photo alliance via Getty Images

The ongoing pandemic illustrates how essential home internet services are for many homes. With more employers working from home and some schools choosing to keep classes at bay, reliable internet is key to staying connected.

When looking for an affordable home internet service, some carriers also offer you the option of bundling other services with it, such as cable TV or home phone. Some even offer smart home services and monitored home security options.

This guide will help you research the pros and cons of bundling specific services so you can decide if bundling services is the smart thing for you.

Bundle internet at home with cable TV

One of the most common bundles is Internet at home with cable television. With these packages, you receive Internet service (specified in download speeds), cable TV and all the equipment for each service.

An attractive part of bundling is that you can save more money than if you purchased each service individually. Additionally, some companies offer promotional deals where you can save even more for service for the first two years and receive premium channels like HBO for free.

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Comcast offers Xfinity internet service, among other things, bundled with a cable TV subscription.

Comcast

While these prices may seem attractive, keep in mind that some providers want you to sign a service contract to receive promotional prices. Not only will you pay an early termination fee if you cancel the service early, but you may also pay significantly more when the promotion ends. While you can save some money with this bundle, read the fine print first to make sure you understand such terms and limitations.

Internet with telephone service

If you need a home phone service, some of the best internet service providers (ISPs) bundle it with your connection to the Internet. Depending on the provider, you can get unlimited calling minutes and access to international calling, forwarding options and voicemail, plus you can save more money than if you were only doing home telephony.

Before you sign up for such a bundle, consider the needs of your home phone. For example, if you plan to make regular international calls, some companies that specialize in home telephony may be a better and less expensive option. With this in mind, you’ll want to compare offers from ISPs in your area against home phone services to see which one best suits your needs.

Home internet and mobile phone plans

Some carriers also offer bundle offers with your cell phone. You could get a great flat rate on service, and you could be able to get a newer smartphone for a lot less than it’s store-bought.

However, there are other things to consider. In addition to promotional prices and contracts, there are benefits that you may miss out on bundling. Some cell phone companies like Boost Mobile offer loyalty discounts, which give you a significant discount after paying for service on time for a specified period of time.

Internet with smart home

With the increasing popularity of smart home devices, you can now control your lighting, door locks and the temperature of your home with the push of a button or a quick voice command. To simplify things, some carriers now offer dedicated smart home services in addition to home internet.

One of the main advantages of this is convenience. Having one provider for both systems makes installation a breeze. You can also save money on equipment, as some companies offer smart home devices to encourage you to try out their services. And if you need help, your provider can help.

That said, tech support can also be one of the drawbacks. Depending on your provider’s responsiveness, it can be difficult to get help, and of course that can be a problem if you have urgent issues with your door locks.

When comparing ISPs that also offer smart home services, use tools such as the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which uses a mix of metrics to rank companies with the best customer service, including ISPs. You should also check if they offer cellular or battery backup services if the power ever goes out.

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A separate, dedicated home security provider such as Vivint provides the best control over your installation, but opting for an Internet bundle with home security monitoring can save you some money.

Home security with internet

Home security equipment is also more common in people’s homes thanks to doorbell cameras, motion sensors and 24/7 surveillance services. You can see who is knocking at your door right from your smartphone, receive notifications when someone comes home and more.

Some ISPs have expanded their services in recent years to offer home security bundled with home internet services. In many cases you can score a lot by combining both and it is useful to manage all your services with one provider.

Conversely, there are some drawbacks to consider. Some ISPs, such as Xfinity, offer you a monitoring service, but you must purchase the equipment separately. That can be expensive, depending on how many sensors, cameras and other equipment you need.

Also keep in mind that ISPs may not offer the same range of services that home security companies provide. That’s why it’s wise to think about your needs first. Then compare ISPs and home security companies so you can find the plan and equipment that’s best for you.

Bundling has its pros and cons

Bundling can save you money and it is convenient to have all your services under one provider. That said, you can limit your choices when you bundle. Other providers that specialize in a specific service, such as home security, may offer you more flexible options at a better price.

You also limit your ability to scale as needed. For example, if providers lock you up in a contract for the Internet bundled with TV, you would have to pay a fee to get out if you have not met your contractual obligations.

If you had internet at home with a separate streaming service like Hulu or YouTube TV, you can cancel or downsize it without fear of extra costs. Additionally, with streaming TV platforms, you don’t have to pay for expensive add-ons such as DVR box rental, HD access, local taxes, and programming fees that the cable provider will often charge.

With this in mind, bundling comes down to your preferences. In some cases, the convenience of simplicity and initial cost savings is best, but in others, you can get a better deal by separating the services.

In the meantime, here are some other ways you can optimize your internet experience at home:


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