What You Need to Know About Telecom Packages

The triple-play bundle may not be the cheapest game in town.

1. Bundling is big. Bundles combine Internet service, cable TV and often phone service from a single provider and can be a better deal than buying each service separately. Telecommunications companies love them because they boost revenue per customer and lock users into long-term contracts, typically one to two years.

2. But not all bundles are bargains. Add-on fees can quickly turn a cheap bundle into a not-so-hot deal. For example, Time Warner Cable recently advertised digital cable TV with 200-plus channels (HD included) plus speedy 10-megabit-per-second broadband Internet for $75 a month, with free installation. What the ad didn't say, however, was that recording in HD with an HD DVR would cost an additional $18 a month, and a wireless router (if you didn't already have one) would cost an extra $5 per month. Tack on a few more dollars a month in taxes and fees, and that $75 deal could balloon to $100 a month.

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Contributing Writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance