How To Save Money On Internet Service

howtosavemoneyoninternetservice.jpgInternet service is becoming increasingly important to Canadians as much of our daily business and entertainment is accomplished through our high speed internet connections. At the same time cable and phone companies are seeing their revenues and profits slip away as many people are cancelling or reducing their home phone, television, and long distance services in favour of internet based solutions. To combat this, they are increasing the cost of internet service for new and existing subscribers and, more importantly, introduce monthly download caps as well as traffic shaping to limit download speeds during peak times or for specific download types like peer to peer. This guide will show you how you can reduce your internet costs, upgrade your service for less, and increase or eliminate your bandwidth caps.

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1) Call The Retentions Department And Negotiate A Better Deal

The old adage “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” definitely applies when it comes to saving money on almost any type of service. Most companies are happy to quietly raise the rates of their existing customers and never offer them any sort of service improvement or upgrade as long as they don’t rock the boat and continue paying their monthly bill without question. All the while they are offering copious amounts of freebies and promotions to attract new customers without extending those same offers to their existing customers.

You can easily counteract this problem by picking up the phone and calling your internet service provider, asking to speak to the retentions department, and then negotiating a better deal with them in exchange for your loyalty. Not everyone is comfortable with negotiations or asking for a discount. If that’s you, continue reading the SaveLog post I wrote with tips for negotiating with retentions. If you have any specific questions or need additional help, post a comment there and I will promptly respond:

Calling Retentions Can Really Slash Your Bills >>

2) Switch Providers And Take Advantage Of New Customer Sign Up Bonuses

If you are unsuccessful negotiating with retentions or doing so is not for you, then it can pay to regularly look at the competition and wait for a really good promotion that is cheaper or more beneficial than your current service. Many companies are more focused on customer acquisition than customer retention and, as such, it is much easier to get a good deal when signing up for new service than it is continuing on with your old service. Be sure to pay close attention to the terms and conditions of the new service you are signing up for because they may try to lock you into a lengthy contract, raise your rates substantially after a few months of service, or pull some other trick to get more money out of you.

Unfortunately, in many parts of Canada there aren’t that many choices when it comes to internet service providers (ISPs). If you want to know what the primary Canadian ISPs are then consult the table below. If you prefer to go with a low cost provider that piggy backs on the infrastructure of the bigger providers then skip down to the low cost ISP section.

Company Provinces Serviced Notes
Bell MB, NU, ON, QC, YT For MB, NU, SK, and YT you have to check to see if it is available in your area. Reviews
BellAliant NB, NL, NS, PE Reviews
Cogeco ON, QC Reviews
EastLink AB, BC, NB, NL, NS, ON, PE, QC Internet speed and availability changes by province. QC in particular has no information other than a phone number on the EastLink site. Reviews
MTS MB Reviews
Rogers NB, NL, ON Reviews
SaskTel SK Reviews
Shaw AB, BC, MB, ON, SK Figuring out what areas they service using their website can be difficult. You may need to contact them to see if service is available in your area. Reviews
Telus AB, BC Reviews
Videotron QC They only have stores in Quebec, so I assume they only offer service in Quebec. Reviews

* The above table is for reference purposes only. Service areas are constantly updated so the information may not be 100% accurate. The provinces serviced were determined using the ISPs website and, in some cases due to poor site design, a best guess was necessary. Please contact each service provider you are interested in to see if the service you want is available in your area. Please contact me about any errors so I can correct them.

3) Use A Low Cost Internet Service Provider

There are several budget internet service providers out there in addition to the primary ISPs already mentioned. These low cost providers usually rent the cable, DSL, or fiber optic lines from the larger companies at low rates and then pass on some of the savings to the consumer. Usually these budget providers also have higher bandwidth caps that are often unlimited in addition to cheaper add-ons and, in many cases, no contractual obligations either. On the other hand, there is the possibility of having slower tech support because an issue you are having may need to be routed through the primary service provider if it can’t be solved by your provider directly. Having a third party involved like that will often slow down the response time.

Bottom line, the savings you get are usually worth the occasional extra hassle you might experience. One low cost ISP in particular, namely Teksavvy, continues to get extremely positive reviews for the quality of their service, tech support, and customer service. Their reviews are, in fact, way better than those given to the companies they rent their lines from, like Bell and Rogers. If you live in an area that is serviced by Teksavvy, then I would definitely suggest you consider switching.

Company Provinces Serviced Unlimited Bandwidth Available? Notes
3Web/CIA AB, BC, ON, QC, SK Yes Many reviewers complain about this company but, if their rates are good enough for you, they may be worth a shot. Reviews
Acanac ON, QC Yes Service gets mixed reviews with many people happy with the service. Unfortunately, to get the best deal you have to prepay for a long period in advance. Try the service for a month first before prepaying a year, if possible. Reviews
AEI Internet ON, QC Yes You need to enter your phone number on their site to check availability. Reviews are generally positive. Reviews
Primus AB, BC, ON, QC Yes More mixed reviews. Some people love it and some people hate it. Reviews
Teksavvy AB, BC, ON, QC Yes Teksavvy is unquestionably the best low cost ISP in Canada that offers unlimited bandwidth. Reviews (97% positive)
Velcom ON, QC Yes Mostly positive reviews but the most recent reviews seem to be negative. Reviews

* The above table is for reference purposes only. Service areas are constantly updated so the information may not be 100% accurate. The provinces serviced were determined using the ISPs website and, in some cases due to poor site design, a best guess was necessary. Please contact each service provider you are interested in to see if the service you want is available in your area. Please contact me about any errors so I can correct them.

4) Know What You're Buying: Read Reviews

In addition the ISPs listed above, there are still many more small Canadian internet providers scattered throughout the country. I tried to include the ones that are the most well known that had a decent number of reviews. Before making any changes to your existing service, you should read reviews and research any potentials before making the switch. The new provider may be cheaper, but if the service is terrible then you will have wasted substantial time and money on the switch and, in the end, you may even be forced to switch back.

You should always stick with a provider that has a decent number of positive reviews and know that you are taking a chance if you pick a company that has a lot of negative comments. Even companies that have many negative reviews can still be good for some people so it may be worth the risk to give them a try. The best place I've found both to see a list of available Canadians ISPs of all kinds (DSL, cable, wireless) along with user reviews of the service is DSL Reports. You can click the Reviews links directly in the above tables or see a large list of companies here:

List of Canadian internet service providers @ DSLReports.com >>

5) Choose The Right Package For Your Needs

This is pretty obvious, but it can pay to evaluate what your needs are when it comes to an internet connection and potentially downgrade your service to save money if you don’t really need the higher speeds that comes at a higher cost. Many ISPs offer some sort of “lite” service that is several times faster than a dial up connection but will struggle with multimedia content and also often has a lower download cap. If you only surf the web and check email, then this might be a viable option for you.

When choosing a cheaper package or downgraded connection, don’t limit your search to your existing provider. Remember to check out all of the providers listed above that offer internet service in your area and see who has the best deal. Prices will often be quite similar but you may end up with a substantially larger download cap or increased speed by casting a wide net during your search.

Finally, if you are a really light user, consider switching to dial up service that you can often get for free or only a few dollars a month. Dial up is outside the scope of this guide, but you should be able to find a few decent deals by checking out the same providers listed on this page.

6) Bundle Services For A Discount

Bundling your services together with one provider would be a last resort when it comes to trying to save money on your internet connection or services in general. It is true that bundling services can be cheaper than what it would cost you to have all of the services individually from the same provider but it also highly restricts your flexibility and negotiating power. When you bundle services together you may end up locked into a contract for all your services that can be hard to get out of, plus it can create a psychological barrier that prevents you from switching one or all of your services to a different provider when a better deal comes along.

If you have already tried negotiating with retentions, checked out low cost alternatives, and don’t have the energy to sign up for new customer promotions and good deals when they come along, then bundling may be the only thing left that can save you money. In that case, you might as well go for it.

7) Share Your Internet Connection

Modern high speed internet connections and wireless routers are capable of handing many concurrent users so this opens up the door of sharing your connection with somebody else and splitting the cost. If you live in an apartment complex, a condo, or have a lot of neighbours nearby then you might consider talking to them and see if they are interested in splitting an internet connection. This could even allow your to justify the cost of a higher speed connection that will get to enjoy most of the time when both of you aren’t making use of the connection at the same time.

Sharing is perfect when it comes to internet connections because the amount of the bill should never change from month to month so it is easy to split the cost and set up payment terms.

Check out the rest of Services section for ways to save money on all of your other services!

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