Comcast and AT&T are two Fortune 100 companies doing battle in several major market across America. Comcast offers their Xfinity TV product via cable, and AT&T offers U-verse through a newer fiber technology. If you have both of these options in your area, here are a few things to consider before signing up.
Xfinity vs U-verse
Both of these companies offer you a full slate of communication services – video, voice, and high speed internet. AT&T also can bundle in wireless service, resulting in a quadruple play pacakge. Xfinity has partnered with Verizon Wireless, so you can also sign up for a similar bundle. With customers spending $200 or more for these quad play packages, several incentives are offered if you are signing up for the first time with either company in the form of Visa prepaid cards that can be used almost anywhere.
So what factors should you consider when shopping for U-verse or Xfinity TV service? Price, contractual terms, and incentives are three of the primary factors that should go into your decision. Price of course is at the top of everyone’s list, as nobody want to pay more then they have to for a commodity like cable or satellite television service. Contracts have become common in recent years, as companies like AT&T can offer you a better overall deal if they know you will be paying them for a year or two. On the other hand, consumers should be smart about committing so as to not incur an early termination fee. Finally, incentives can look good when offered, but these are usually tied in to some sort of contract.
Reviewing Pricing with Xfinity and U-verse
Any number of double and triple play packages can be purchased from either provider – so in this article we will pick a mid-tier triple play bundle from each provider and review the costs. With AT&T U-verse, the U-200/Elite Internet (6 Mbps)/Unlimited calling triple play package will run $156 a month if you want to avoid signing a contract. This deal does offer $200 in Visa rewards if ordered online and service is kept for 30 days.
A similar Xfinity Triple play package would be the HD Preferred Plus XF deal. Offered at $139.99 for twelve months, you get a similar number of channels when compared to the U200 package with U-verse. The Xfinity Blast! internet speed is much faster though, as 20 Mbps is included, as well as an unlimited calling plan for your home. This package goes to $159.99 in year two and then to $179.99-$184.99 thereafter, depending on your service area. No cash back is offered with this deal, though you can get six months of free DVR service, worth around $100.
So if we compare these two deals from U-verse and Xfinity, the customer comes out about even. AT&T offers a huge incentive up front with the cash back card, while pricing and internet speeds go to Xfinity during year number one. But if you are comfortable signing a contract, you can get better deals with both AT&T and Comcast/Xfinity.
Contracts with Comcast and AT&T
If you want to save more money on your U-verse package, you will have to commit for one year. This is a nice alternative to the traditional two-year agreements that were originally rolled out by satellite television companies, and that have recently been adopted by many cable companies. AT&T offers discounts of $21 on U-verse TV for two years, and $10 off of the internet product for the same term. As mentioned, you only have to agree to keep service for twelve months, but if you stay with the company you will continue to enjoy savings for the second year.
With Xfinity, you will have to agree to keep service for two years to get any additional discount and incentives which we will discuss next.
Incentives Offered by AT&T and Comcast
Both providers are battling hard for customers, which is why you are probably bombarded with advertisements in your mail, on TV, and online. Because a new customer can equal thousands of dollars in revenue if they remain loyal, AT&T and Comcast are willing to offer monetary incentives to attract new customers. As mentioned earlier, AT&T offers a $200 rewards card to a new subscriber, with the only requirement being that they keep service for 30 days. While no additional discounts are offered on the monthly rate, this still is a great deal for someone setting up a triple play package.
With Xfinity, similar Visa reward card deals are available, offering anywhere from $200 to $500 depending on the package selected. Obviously the more expensive, fully-loaded packages are going to net you a higher rewards card.
With both companies, be sure to read and understand the fine print – including any forms that may have to be filled out for redemption. Usually there is a waiting period of a month or two before your card comes in the mail. Also be sure to place your order online if possible, as greater rewards are often tied into placing an online order.
While price, contract, and cash back incentives may be at the top of your list when evaluating these providers – there are a few other things to think about. Here are a few additional things to review.
High Definition – There has been a bit of an “evening” among the major cable and satellite players over the last two or three years. While DIRECTVinitally had a huge lead in the number of HD channels, U-verse has surpassed the nations largest satellite television company when it comes to HD channel content with 145 networks. Xfinity still lags behind a bit, offering 95 national HD channels. If you want the most HD, then consider U-verse over Xfinity TV. Both companies have $10 HD fees on most packages, with high definition included on top tier bundles.Video On Demand – In this area, the edge goes to Xfinity. With thousands of titles available both on TV and online, Xfinity has been the leader in offering video on demand for some time. Full seasons of several programs are now available with their new Xfinity Streampix service, which is available at no charge with top tier packages, or for $4.99 on non-qualifying packages. AT&T does offer a limited library of On Demand titles, but most are built around their pay per view offerings which charge extra each month.DVR service – Both Xfinity and U-verse have whole home DVR models now, allowing the subscriber to access recorded content on other TVs in the house. The main thing to consider here is cost. AT&T includes their DVR in their packages, though you will pay an extra $7 for each additional receiver. Xfinity has one of the highest DVR feesin the market right now, charging a whopping $17 for their HD DVR model. Big advantage to U-verse in this area on the cost savings alone.Sports and Movie packages – Both companies offer a full slate of movie and sports programming. Price won’t vary much – if at all, as the prices are set mainly by the providers like HBO and Showtime. Out of market sports packages like NBA League Pass, MLB Extra Innings, and the new NFL RedZone Channel are options as well.A final obstacle may be the availability of each product. Comcast is fairly entrenched in the major markets that is serves, while AT&T is a newcomer to the cable game. U-verse deployment is scheduled to continue over the next three years, reaching more than 34 million homes and businesses by 2015. Unfortunately for some living in areas served by AT&T, you may have to wait a bit longer for U-verse to come into your neighborhood.