Why I Like Duopoly

Our telecom bill is huge; for cable (no premium channels), cable modem, landline, and my iPhone, it’s about $250. I’ve tried to get AT&T to give me a deal on the landline and iPhone, but to no avail.

The cable company, however, will take over my landline at a total price for everything but the iPhone at $5 more than I now pay for the cable and modem alone. Admittedly, this is an introductory rate, but it rises by only $10 after one year.

I don’t like duopoly, but it’s better for me the consumer than a monopoly; and there are other threats — satellite TV, for example — that limit pricing even more. How can the cable company offer me a price for all the cable services only $5 above my current price? Easy — the marginal cost to them is tiny. The cable service is already there; but if I switched cable service to AT&T, they would lose a lot. This is a good move for them. I only wish I had switched earlier.


Marcelo Caldas

I say drop it all... (or almost!)

I've dropped cable about a year ago and I am very happy watching everything online. 95% of all I watch is freely available and the other 5%, well I used to spend around $50 on cable which I use now to rent movies, or buy tv shows on iTunes... Works great.

Want more? Drop your land line... keep only the broadband. Have a good VOIP system... I personally use Magic Jack - works great. But there are many, many options out there...

Diogo

Where I live, there are so many telco services companies that we get the feeling that the market is in true competition. However, the horrible truth is that only 2 companies have the infra-estructure and the services at the same time, that cover (almost) the entire population. The worst of it is that there is only one indicator of this in the advertising brochures and not everyone as the insight to acknowledge it: it's the "lead time to connect" aka service delivery time. It's 400%higher for the companies without infraestructure... Sad but true.

J. Daniel Smith

I'm thinking about cutting back to just basic cable; I need to read more and watch less TV anyway. Although I would miss Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly on FNC. :-)

right side of the river

I've been tempted to drop cable altogether as well but the one thing I cannot find for free online (legally), and which is the primary reason why I got cable in the first place, is sports coverage.

mudlock

I second Marcelo. I sat down and figured out how many shows I actually watch in a year versus what it would cost to buy them on iTunes, or to wait and get them through NetFlix. The savings was astounding. And that was before Hulu took off and before NetFlix added online streaming!

Beth

Who pays for television any more? You must really like teenage "reality" shows.

Ben D

I'm not sure your argument (duopoly is better than monopoly) is an argument for duopoly. Yet another false choice.

JimBob

At the very least, drop the landline. With cable providing all your other services and your iPhone, what do you need a regular phone for? I haven't had a landline in 4 years and have not missed it one bit.

Al Marsh

I did the same thing recently. I got Sky+ (think Tivo if you're American) with internet and phone for the same price as I was paying before, WITHOUT Sky+. The result? I'm having the best TV watching days of my life, for no extra overall cost.

carlivar

You must not have AT&T's Uverse service available yet. It's the equivalent "triple play" of what the cable company offers, but it requires AT&T to build out a fiber connection to your neighborhood.

BTW, you'll make up your $$ savings with cable in terrible reliability on your phone and horrible customer service. Have fun!

YX

Then there are those out of loop places such as your phone company that require for a land line (I bet that made you think "huh?"). Or the takeout place I call at least twice a month.

Of course with the cost of land line I can call better take out place.

Jocelyn

What's worse is living in a building that has contracts with companies and so you're FORCED to use certain providers and thus reduce your ability to bundle.

Steven Surowiec

I bought a Condo in August, my first place, and the only two I have are cell phone and cable internet, that's it. I get calls from Cablevision all the time trying to rope me into their triple play package. At the very least it's fun to hear the telemarketers get stumped when they ask who my current phone and TV providers are and I tell them 'no one'. There's a 5 or 6 second pause and you can almost hear them thinking about what they should do next.

Caliphilosopher

Cable would be so much better if you could choose a package of channels that you wanted to view. I'd be fine with having only 20 channels to watch, but cable is SO bloated that it seems to make much more sense to watch things online.

Laura

It isn't feasible for everyone, but I dropped cable and the landline. Cable internet online has Hulu and all kinds of ways to watch cable channel shows for free (legally). So I get cable internet for $55 and cell for $40 (no internet, obviously). Even if I added the iPhone plan instead of the regular cell phone, adding $100 on top of that for the additional privilege of adding a landline and cable tv channels just doesn't seem to make economic sense to me

Todd G

Like many others, I find the only reason I haven't given up cable yet is sports coverage.

As soon as I find a satisfying way to view sporting events online, I will drop cable.

The recent live video provided online for events such as the men's NCAA basketball tournament and the Masters was in ways even superior to both network and cable's coverage--I loved having the option of being able to watch any basketball game during the tournament in real time.

I look forward to seeing what improvements the future will bring.

Travis F.

Wow, an economist falls for the "introductory rate trap."

Duopoly is terrible, and regional duopolies are just as bad.

Eric M. Jones

Nobody has mentioned free digital over-the-air TV. Should be a winner.

Schizohedron

I'm leery of putting all my information-technology eggs into one basket. Cut one cable, and lose local calling, Internet, and television? I've diversified, possibly at higher cost, but with more security.

And I also traded cable or DSL TV for Netflix and free online sources (Hulu, YouTube). Everything gets out in bit form, one way or the other.

Grant

Why have a landline at all?