Friday, July 6, 2012

Moving Into Your Rental Home: Cable/Internet

One of the fun parts of moving into a new student house, or moving back into your student house after the summers over, is sorting out cable & internet among other things. It's a chore, no one likes to do it, and then on top of it you have to pay money every month for the services. So the goal here is to make it simple, show you have to save some money and make it a little bit less of a chore. This post strictly deals with internet and cable, as well as cable alternatives. Notice how the title of this blog post doesn't include home phone, it's never something that I even considered because who needs a home phone while at university, save yourself some cash, please! 

Internet and Cable Providers & Deals

  • Check out Rogers. They offer a Student deal (Usually 8 months, great Bandwidth and pretty affordable. It will pop up on the Rogers site in late July, August)
    • In the case of Rogers there is an entire discussion on Red Flag Deals about Retentions & New Customer  where you can find out how to get an even better deal, it just takes a lot more negotiating
  • Check with Bell, I haven't used Bell since the days when you plugged your internet into your phone line so I'm not much help when it comes to their services. 
  • Leverage previous agreements with Rogers or Bell, use them against each other. You can often get  fairly large discounts on cable & internet if your contract is set to expire.
  • Tekksavvy-Internet and Cable plans are cheaper, but make sure to check, they often charge you for a modem
  • Shaw- This provider is only of great use to those who live outside of Ontario I believe
  • Telus-Another provider for those non-Ontarian's 
Often providers will offer deals where you only get the cheaper rate for 3 to 6 months and then you get charged a really high amount for the remainder. Try to avoid this, because most of these deals also require you to lock in for at least a year (which doesnt really work for most students) These fun deals are courtesy of Shaw and Bell. 

Some definitions for you
Bandwidth - Generally referred to as the volume of information per unit of time that an internet connection can handle aka. how much you can download in a given month, if you go over this amount your internet provider will charge you a stupidly high amount of money per GB
Retention - When referring to retention in this post, it means that you currently have a contract with a cable/internet/phone provider and its coming to an end. In order to keep your business your provider will call you (multiple times) and try and keep your business. This is when you have room to bargain.
Internet Speed - Mbps?!?! - internet speeds often range from about 3 Mbps to anywhere as high as 75 Mbps for Rogers services anyway. Here's the download speeds provided by Rogers based on internet speed you have. 18 Mbps is the internet speed provided for their Express plan which is often decent enough speed wise for university students that just use the internet for downloading, checking out websites, going on Facebook etc. Those who need more, know they do and don't need my advice.

Download speedThe time it takes for the data to leave your computer and get to someone else's server, which takes places when we do anything from opening a website to downloading music or movies/tv.
Upload SpeedUpload speeds become important when you have a bunch of pictures that you have taken and they are now on your computer, and you want to send them to a relative

Bandwidth Saving Tips
  • If all of your room mates love a show but can't watch it at the same time, download it instead of streaming it online. Use a USB and give each other the episodes/seasons it will save bandwidth by preventing all of your roommates from streaming the same episode multiple times
  • If your the only one that watches a show just stream it, streaming a single episode uses less bandwidth than downloading it
Cable Alternatives (just sticking with Internet)
  • Apple TV-For about $100 you can purchase Apple TV, which allows you to sync all Apple devices in your home with the box and watch video content, play music etc all through your tv (requires an HDMI connection with your tv)
    • For those who are more knowledgeable about technology can also unlock Apple TV in order to stream tv shows, movies etc right from your box. Apple TV will require that you have a decent amount of bandwidth with your internet plan so make sure to take note of that. 
  • Just stream tv shows and movies on your computer, how often are you actually home to watch your favourite show when its on tv?
  • If your tv has an HDMI hookup, you can buy a HDMI cable, attach it your laptop (some laptops don't have HDMI output) and watch streamed tv from your laptop on your television.
Some more tips
  • When talking on the phone with a customer service agent, ALWAYS get their name, and their employee number. That way if you ever call back and quote them on something you have proof that they exist and that you spoke to them
  • Do your research. Check out what other providers are offering, their prices and the specs (internet speed, bandwidth etc.)
  • Have a set target in mind price wise before you get on the phone to talk to a representative
Wrap Up
For most students you don't need more than basic cable (if you even want to buy it) and a decent internet package with enough bandwidth and decent enough download speeds. Don't get weaselled into multi-year contracts if possible because a lot of students end up switching houses, room mates go their separate ways and you don't want to get stuck with a contract in your name at a house you don't live at anymore.. Take advantage of student offers and make use of your parents previous relationships with these cable companies. Saying "my parents have been with your for x number of years, can you get me a better price" may actually work. Make it known that you are a student and you aren't rolling in cash, can they offer you a better deal? Most prices are negotiable, so never settle for the first offer they provide


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