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US Broadband Price Comparisons
Prices/speeds/bundles of eight major providers compared
by Karl Bode 02:21PM Tuesday May 22 2007
We've dug through pricing information from eight major providers to compare prices, speeds and bundle discounts -- the savings from which aren't always easy to parse out. The latest look at industry pricing sees the rise of the two-year contract, many cable providers only offering discount tiers to canceling customers and a mixed bag when it comes to making pricing clear from region to region.

Prices listed here are not official -- like your connections, they're our "best effort" based on website data, conversations with technicians and what you say you're paying, so please instant message me if you've got changes or corrections (there are sure to be some). Down the road we'll offer comparisons with some of the smaller providers (OOL, Covad) and discuss some contract renegotiation tricks aimed at getting you the lowest rates possible.

Verizon DSL


Verizon offers highlights of their DSL tiers on their website, but detailed information on upstream speeds is behind a prequalification wall. Once inside, you'll find their pricing is largely consistent across markets, though it differs depending on whether you're willing to sign a one-year contract:
•768kbps/128kbps : $14.99 (one-year contract)•3Mbps/768kbps : $19.99 first six months, $29.99 next six months (one-year contract)•3Mbps/768kbps: $37.99 (no contract)
Our users inform us that Verizon used to offer a 7Mbps residential tier. Now, if customers want faster than 3Mbps DSL, they need to shell out $99 for a 7Mbps/768kbps business line. Keep in mind these prices don't include various fees. Customers can get "naked" or unbundled DSL for an additional $5 per month (though not in all areas).

Verizon says they will begin focusing on offering "quadruple play" discounts sometime this year. Check out our forum discussion with Verizon users to see potential price variations based on geography and contract renewal.

Verizon FiOS


Verizon also offers fiber-to-the-home services known as FiOS. Verizon does a great job making their FiOS pricing easily accessible here. FiOS prices also change drastically depending on whether you're willing to sign a one-year contract:
•5Mbps/2Mbps : $39.95 (one-year contract•15Mbps/2Mbps : $49.95 (one-year contract)•30Mbps/5Mbps : $54.95-$199.95 depending on area (one-year contract)•5Mbps/2Mbps : $47.99 (no contract)•15Mbps/2Mbps : $57.99 (no contract)•30Mbps/5Mbps : $199.95 (no contract)
Earlier this year, Verizon upgraded these packages to 10Mbps/2Mbps, 20Mbps/5Mbps, and 50Mbps/5Mbps in Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. Other areas are expected to receive these free upgrades at some point, but Verizon has not announced when that will happen.

Customers who commit to a year of service receive free installation and associated equipment, but they must still pay a one-time $19.99 activation fee. Customers that do not wish to sign a one-year contract must pay a $69.99 installation fee. Unlike Verizon DSL, there's very few added fees associated with FiOS. In many service areas, Verizon also offers a $5 monthly discount for a bundle of two services (TV, Internet) and a $10 monthly discount for bundling of three (TV, Internet, phone).

AT&T DSL


Like Verizon, AT&T's prices are largely consistent across markets. Their website directly advertises the base price and downstream speeds, but upstream speeds are behind a prequalification wall:
•Basic: 768kbps/384kbps $14.99•Express: 1.5Mbps/384kbps $19.99•Pro: 3Mbps/512kbps : $24.99•Elite: 6Mbps/768kbps : $34.99
For customers who cannot get "naked" (or "dry loop") DSL, these prices are in addition to the cost of a local phone line. In areas where standalone DSL is offered, it's often more expensive than getting DSL and a landline. Bundled discounts are available and vary by region. Customers can save 5-10% depending on which bundle they sign up for. Bundle options are so varied it seems like you wouldn't know if you saved money until your bill arrived.

AT&T is the only major ISP currently offering a true "quadruple play" bundle (broadband, VoIP, IPTV, wireless) for $134.97.

AT&T U-Verse


AT&T has also, of course, begun offering VDSL service bundled with IPTV, known around these parts as U-Verse. U-Verse is currently available in portions of sixteen major markets, and pricing is clearly listed, though some information resides behind a prequalification wall. VDSL is offered in three tiers:
•Express: 1.5Mbps/1Mbps•Pro: 3Mbps/1Mbps•Elite: 6Mbps/1Mbps
Pricing for U-Verse varies depending on what TV package you bundle (Express/Pro/Elite):
•U-family (50 channels): $59/$64/$74•U100 (100 channels): $59/$64/$74•U200 (190 channels): $74/$79/$89•U300 (240 channels, 34 premium channels): $94/$99/$100•U400 (300 channels, 49 premium channels): $114/$119/$129
AT&T has been running a number of promotions for U-Verse, including free HD for a year and free TV for the first two months.

BellSouth


Unlike AT&T and Verizon, upstream data speeds are included on their website alongside downstream speeds and prices. Speeds and prices are also largely consistent across markets:
•DSL Lite: 256kbps/128kbps : $24.95•DSL Ultra - 1.5Mbps/256kbps : $32.95•DSL Xtreme: 3Mbps/384kbps : $37.95•DSL Xtreme 6.0: 6Mbps/512kbps : $42.95
As BellSouth was recently acquired by AT&T, you can expect the AT&T prices to eventually be applied to BellSouth territory. The best estimate we've been able to glean from insiders is that this should happen sometime during the second half of this year.

Qwest


Qwest does a great job making their pricing easily accessible and not hidden behind a prequalification wall -- directly showing upstream speeds from the start:
•Qwest Choice : 256kbps/256kbps : $31.99•Qwest Choice Silver: 1.5Mbps/896kbps : $44.99•Qwest Choice Platinum: (up to) 7Mbps/896kbps : $54.99
The company offers $5 off your price if you bundle one service, $10 for two, $20 for three and a $37 discount if you bundle four services. The company also offers 256kbps ($31.95), 1.5Mbps ($44.95) and 3Mbps ($54.99) VDSL service in the Phoenix and Denver areas. Qwest was the first baby bell to market with unbundled DSL for $5 more a month.

There are some pricing variations based on geography discussed by our users in our Qwest forum.

Comcast


Comcast's pricing page lists the downstream speeds for their tiers, but hides their upstream speeds behind a prequalification wall:
•Economy: 384 kbps/384 kbps : $39.95 (not advertised)•Performance Lite: 4Mbps/384 kbps : $42.95•Performance: 6Mbps/384kbps-768kbps : $59.95•Performance Plus: 8Mbps/768 kbps : $67.95•Blast!: 16Mbps/1Mbps : $67.95 (select areas)•Blast!: 16000 kbps / 2000 kbps : $67.95 (select areas)
Comcast Blast! is generally offered in areas with competition from Verizon FiOS -- something you'll see continued with deployment of even faster DOCSIS 3.0 service in 2008. As with most providers, bundling two services (Comcast Cable TV or Comcast Digital Phone) can net you savings:
•Economy: 384kbps/384kbps : $29.95 (not available for new subscription)•Performance: 6Mbps/384kbps : $42.95•Performance: 6Mbps/768kbps : $42.95 (select areas)•Performance Plus: 8Mbps/768kbps : $52.95•Blast!: 16Mbps/1Mbps : $52.95 (select areas)•Blast!: 16Mbps/2Mbps : $52.95 (select areas)
Comcast also offers users introductory rates on triple play services ranging from $90.99 to $159.99 based on local competition and services added. Like Qwest, Comcast will lock customers in at these rates if they're willing to sign two-year contracts (the letter sent out to customers can be found here).

Despite some regional variations, Comcast is probably the most consistent of the major cable providers with regard to pricing.

Cox


Cox price and speed presentation varies depending on region (see San Diego versus Arizona). Price and speed ranges across markets are as follows:
•Economy: 768kbps/256kbps : $14.95-$16.99 (select areas)•Value: 1.5Mbps/256kbps-384kbps : $26.95-$29.95•Preferred: 6-7Mbps/512kbps-2Mbps : $41.95-$51.95•Premier: 10-15Mbps/1-2Mbps : $54.95-$64.95
Unlike Comcast, Cox offers a wider variety of speeds and prices to react to local competitive pressures (or the lack thereof). While Cox users in Northern Virginia get 15Mbps/2Mbps for $56.99, a Cox customer in Oklahoma only gets 12Mbps for that same price.

As with other cable providers, their "Economy" tier is advertised in some markets, but used as a customer retention tool in others. Cox bundles also vary by market (ex: Oklahoma), but like most other providers they frequently offer a $99 triple-play bundle.

Time Warner Cable


Like Cox, Time Warner Cable pricing and speed varies drastically from market to market, and the company hides all pricing behind a prequalification wall. Clarity of regional pricing websites ranges from relatively clear to absolutely cryptic. Price and speed vary across markets, but generally fall into these ranges:
•Lite: 256kbps-1.5Mbps/128kbps-384kbps : $24.95-$34.95•Standard: 4Mbps-10Mbps/384kbps-1Mbps : $34.95-$59.95•Extreme/Turbo: 7Mbps-15Mbps/512kbps-2Mbps : $54.95-$84.95
Time Warner Cable might be the most geographically inconsistent provider we're tracking. With the company still integrating their Adelphia customers, users tell us speeds sometimes aren't consistent within the same city, much less the state. Time Warner Cable offers customers a $5 discount if they bundle two services and a $15 discount if they bundle all three. Their "lite" tier is advertised in some markets and used as a customer retention tool in others.

Charter


While Charter advertises their downstream speeds directly, prices and upstream speeds vary by market and are hidden behind a prequalification wall. Even then, some users who enter their regional information tell us regional speed availability isn't always accurate. These are the speed and price ranges as reported by our users:
•Charter HSI 3.0: 3 Mbps/256kbps : $39.99-$54.99•Charter HSI 5.0: 5Mbps/512kbps : $51.99-$59.99•Charter HSI 10.0: 10Mbps/1Mbps : $69.99-$79.99
Charter customers who bundle two services usually see a monthly discount of $10. The company does offer a $99 introductory triple play deal in certain markets.

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All speeds are best effort and may vary depending on the distance from your CO or other local network conditions. Note that there is an endless sea of promotional rates that can net you a wide variety of discounts. Your best bet is to consistently check your provider's website for the latest deals, though we'll be renewing our focus on bringing these to you when they occur.

Thanks to all of our readers who gave their time to make this data accurate.

Again, please IM me corrections and use the comment section below to tell us how much you're paying per month.

Update: One user gives a good bill example of how fees and surcharges (many of which are not government mandated) significantly add to these advertised prices.


88 comments .. click to read

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mglunt

join:2001-09-10
Fredericksburg, VA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

1 edit

2 recommendations

reply to Ebolla

Re: Great work Karl!



I remember years ago when Comcast first started the bundle "discount". I was a DTV customer for TV, and paying roughly $40 for HSI and a Modem rental from Comcast.

Then, Comcast decided to offer this bundle "discount" as you call it.

Only problem with the "discount" was that the people with Comcast TV just got to keep on paying the same rate, but the people without Comcast TV got to pay $5 (I think that's what it was at the time) more for service.

In other words when the "discounts" as you call them went into effect, nobody saw their bills drop. How then is it a discount?