The President's Message

September 2008

Paul Westefer



Recently, the Los Angeles Times printed a half-page article, written by David Colker, on telephone and cable companies. Summarized below, for those of you who don't read the Times or who might have missed the article, is information, including telephone numbers and Web URLs. Mr. Coulter began with four steps:

STEP 1: Know your local phone company. AT&T and Verizon cover the vast majority of residences. To find who covers an area, call AT&T at 877-722-2256 or go to www.att.com. For Verizon, call 800-483-4000 or go to www.verizon.com. Some households going all cell phone or using online phones utilize companies such as Vonage Holdings Corp.

STEP 2: Know your local cable company. Mr. Colker cited three companies in the area covered by the Los Angeles Times: Charter Communications Inc. 888-438-2427 or go to www.charter.com; Cox Communications Inc. 888- 269-5757 or go to wwwcox.com; Time Warner Cable Inc. 888-892-2253 or go to www timewarnercable.com.

STEP 3: Pick your speed. Today's broadband speeds for the home start at 768 kbps and go up to 50 mbs per second. The more speed, the more money you pay. For example, with Time Warner, 768 kbps service costs $24.95 a month. For 10 mbs you'll pay $54.95 a month. There is a guide, issued by the California Broadband Task Force, to determining speed needs. It's online at www.calink.ca.gov/pdf/CBTF-FINAL-Report.pdf.

The speed chart is on Page 12. To summarize, it says that for e-mail and basic Web surfing, speeds up to 1 mbps are fine. If you're telecommuting, streaming music or downloading large e-mail attachments, you'll probably want 1 to 5 mbps.

Playing video games and watching good quality video streams might call for faster connections.

If several people in the household use the connection simultaneously, the speed is diminished.

STEP 4: It’s better with a bundle. You can usually get a break in price if you buy more than one service from the provider.

All these phone and cable companies offer a trinity of home digital services: Internet, TV and telephone, although not all of these are available in all areas. In some cases, it may be best to divide up your choices.

The satellite TV companies - Direct TV Group Inc. and Dish Network Corp. - do not offer Internet or telephone. If you are happy with their TV service, you could get your Web access and telephone elsewhere.

Mr. Colker also included a chart of Speed, Price, and Contract Length for five companies. I have not included the chart because these items change and there are frequent "deals" available. Be sure you read the fine print carefully whether for computer or other products or services. I have seen offers where the term of the "deal" was as short as one month. Frequently, no information as to costs after the "deal" term is mentioned.

CAVEAT EMPTOR