Cablevision has been one of the dominant cable company in New York and surrounding areas for years, selling service under the Optimum TV brand name. With a virtual monopoly on cable television service in many areas, some have grown restless waiting for competition when it comes to video and internet service.
Verizon has made inroads in recent years, introducing their FiOS TV product to New York and several other communities. This means long time Optimum customers may now have a choice – either sticking with Cablevision or trying out FiOS TV and internet service.
While satellite television has been an option for some living in the Optimum footprint, it has its limitations. First, satellite isn’t available in many of the high rise apartment buildings in New York and surrounding areas. This left many with Optimum TV and internet as their only option.
With Verizon bringing fiber optic lines into most of these buildings, a real battle has developed as they offer a true triple play package. This also makes it easier on consumers, as they can easily compare FiOS and Optimum head-to-head, looking at the overall package price and the services offered.
So what does each company have to offer?
While there are several triple play options available from each provider, lets keep it simple and compare two comparable bundles. From Verizon, the FiOS Prime HD triple play and from Cablevision the Optimum Preferred package. Verizon does offer two year contracts which give you a better deal, but since Optimum does not we will look at the bundles as if you are not signing a contract.
With the FIOS triple play, you will get around 210 channels, of which 55 are in high definition. A&E, ESPN, the History Channel, and of course your local networks are all part of the package.
FiOS Quantum internet is included as well, with 50 Mbps downloads and 25 Mbps uploads. This is where FiOS really shines, as their recently upgraded internet tiers are pretty much leaving the competition in the dust.
A digital voice line rounds out the package – with unlimited local and long distance calling including Canada and Puerto Rico. A bundle of calling features like call waiting and call forwarding are also included. Pricing on this package runs $89.99 a month in most areas plus taxes, fees, and equipment charges.
Now to the Cablevision package.
The Optimum Preferred Triple play is $89.95 a month for the first year, and includes the following:
Around 310 all digital cable channels. HD channels are counted here as duplicates of standard definition stations, so in reality the number isn’t that high.
Optimum Online internet services with 15 Mbps downloads and 2 Mbps uploads in most areas.
Unlimited use phone line. Calling features and long distance included like the FiOS product.
So who wins?
As you can see, the base prices for FiOS and Optimum are basically the same. This probably isn’t an accident, as each company is constantly monitoring what the other has to offer, and trying to keep their pricing in line for advertising purposes.
What you really have to do is look at what you want from your provider and then make a decision.
Verizon is going to be the better option when it comes to providing you with the fastest internet speeds. The advantage here being their fiber optic network which is less than five years old in most areas they serve.
Optimum does offer free Showtime for a year with their introductory triple play package, so if you are a big fan of premium content, that is probably a better option.
Of course there are other factors to review like HD, DVR, and sports programming. Does either company top the other in these areas?
Most reviews online are extremely favorable toward FiOS when it comes to the picture quality. Again, this makes sense as they are using a brand new fiber network to deliver content to the homes they serve.
Verizon also offers a ton of HD content, about 136 channels currently. To get all of these channels you will have to subscribe to the higher tier package and also add in all of the premium channels which can get quite expensive, but is good to know that this high quality content is available to you.
Optimum currently offers around 120 HD channels, so they aren’t that far behind Verizon. Again this is including all of the premium options like HBO and Cinemax. Again the issue mainly comes down to picture quality, where FiOS reviews generally top Optimum.
Comparing DVR Options
Verizon offers a Multi-Room DVR for $19.99 a month, which is similar to models recently rolled out by DISH and DIRECTV. The digital video recorder allows you to record content on a central unit and then play it back in other rooms in the house. The downside is that you still have to have set top boxes (and pay for them) in the other rooms in your home.
Other FiOS set top units are available, ranging from a single unit HD DVR down to a standard definition box. Pricing ranges from $5.99 to $16.99 monthly, so these can really have an impact on your pricing if you need several units.
Optimum offers similar equipment, though they whole home option is not yet available. Regular boxes cost $6.95 a month including a remote, and they are HD compatible. The Optimum DVR Plus is an add on for $10.95 per box, and they can record up to four shows at once for later viewing.
FiOS and Optimum Deals
Finally, its a good idea to review the special offers and deals that you can get as a new customer. Because competition is fierce, cable companies are willing to wheel and deal to get you in the door as a new subscriber. With thousands in potential revenue coming to the provider if you stay for several years, its worth it to them to offer some incentives up front.
Usually most providers will give you three months free of HBO, Cinemax, and other movie channels. The catch here is that you have to call and cancel the channels before the promotional period ends or you can end up paying for them.
With Cablevision, the promotional rate is built into the price for the first year. Generally, you will pay about 50% more after the deal expires, so know that ahead of time that a significant hike in price will occur after 12 months of service are completed.
The same is true with the FiOS triple play if you go with the no contract deal. But Verizon does offer some nice incentives if you sign a two year contract.
First, the price is locked in on most deals for that full 24 month period, meaning you can save hundreds in that second year compared to Optimum.
Second, they also run a FiOS deal that offers aVisa cash rebate offers if you sign a contract. The rebate amount can vary depending on the promotion, but usually runs anywhere from $100 to $150 once you fill out the paperwork and wait for the card to come back in the mail.
Finally, there are also promotions tied into the Multi-Room DVR, which can save you a few hundred in the first year. Current deals include free service for a year on the DVR when you sign up for two years.