Telecom wars: Verizon ups ante by adding cell phone service under one bundled price package

As a business, you have to envy Verizon. It's a heavyweight lucky enough to find itself offering services to feed people's seemingly insatiable appetite for more and more mobile, wireless, 24/7 online communications, information and entertainment.

Now Verizon's poised to leap to another level with a series of new enticements that includes its first offering of Apple's iPhone next year.

Given our clear obsession for gadgets, if you're paying for some Verizon services now, it's only natural to assume you'll be sending more of your income to the company for new services later.

Verizon has announced a new way to buy all those services from them. On Wednesday, the telecommunications giant said it will now let Tampa Bay customers add Verizon's wireless phone service to a newly discounted bundle of TV, Internet and landline phone services.

Verizon already was offering customers a price discount if they bought a package of TV, Internet and home phone services. Now the company is deepening that discount if customers add their Verizon cell phone service to the trio of existing services.

A word of caution: Verizon's packages and conditions can sometimes make the maze built to hold the mythical Minotaur look like a straight line. Do your homework.

Here's how one bundled package might work.

Verizon offers its FiOS Internet service, a FiOS TV "Prime HD" package and a FiOS "Digital Voice" home phone service for $99.99 a month guaranteed for two years for new FiOS customers. If you add Verizon cell phone service to this bundle, the company drops that $99.99 price to $90, saving $10 a month. Then it adds your monthly cost of cell phone service to the $90 price.

Bundled prices can vary widely based on the different levels of each of the four services. The point is that you save some money by having one provider handle all these telecommunication services. And you deal with all four services with one convenient monthly bill.

Even with a discount, new bundles are not exactly cheap.

Let's say I signed up for Verizon's four-service bundle. I would add my family's monthly $177 bill for wireless phone service to the discounted $90 monthly price for the other three services. That means I'd pay about $267 a month to Verizon just so I could watch TV, surf the Internet and allow my family members to yap on the home phone and text on their cell phones.

That's about $3,200 a year. I'm not picking on Verizon. All big telecom companies provide services at similar prices.

But as we all start to add the next new telecom gadgets and services, expect the overall bill to rise.

Tampa Bay is home to a Great Telecom War that pits Verizon against Bright House Networks. Their ads relentlessly slam each other as inferior in one way or another.

J.D. Power recently gave high customer satisfaction marks to Bright House Networks' home phone service. Another J.D. Power survey praised Verizon's FiOS TV.

Truth is, Verizon and Bright House compete vigorously and rank above many other providers nationwide. In that sense, we're fortunate.

I just hope we don't all go broke trying to stay digitally jacked in around the clock.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at trigaux@sptimes.com.

Telecom wars: Verizon ups ante by adding cell phone service under one bundled price package 10/20/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 10:13pm]

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