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Now I'm looking into services to set up my apartment. Here's what I know so far.

Phone

The most common phone service is Verizon. There is no discount for mobile users but, upon your request, they can put all of your Verizon services on the same bill. See chart below for costs.

Time-Warner can offer phone service, but ONLY if you subscribe to cable AND internet cable. It's $40 per month. The plus side is that U.S. long distance is free. The down side is that their internet and cable options are somewhat expensive.

I'm considering using $20 to up my mobile minutes per month and not having a phone in the apartment. For Verizon Mobile customers in those apartments, let me know what you think.

Vonage and Lingo are real options for telephone service, and may be the best option for those who want to frequently call internationally. You must have cable/broadband to use them, and the box sits between your broadband modem and your computer. It can then "liven" your house phone circuit (assuming that it's not connected to the phone company too - I've done this before to use ISDN in the same way.) See "Vonage" and "Lingo" in the below table.

High Speed Internet

Verizon's web site reports that DSL service is available at Alexan Farms and is about 10 lower per month.

Time-Warner offers cable but is $10 more per month than Verizon DSL.

TV

Cable

Time-Warner is the only cable option and unfortunately, it's rather expensive (but there is satellite available - you simply must follow their rules for installation on your deck - see below).

Satellite

Satellite TV is available. You must follow the rules of the apartment complex, but it's available. The dish must face a certain way (see note below), but if it doesn't work for your apartment, they will refund all money.

Note on Required Angle: If I understand things correctly, the dish must face 245° - almost exactly South West. This is based on Azimuth 237, Elevation 34, and Skew 128. I think this means 237° (from true North) and 34° elevation. I don't know what Skew is. Declination (offset between magnetic and true North) is about 8° degrees in Durham. So about 245° is what we need.

DSL

If DSL is available, it could be a great option because it's cheaper than cable. However, with at least Verizon, you are required to have phone service (we my try using only our mobile phones to save money).

Options That I've Found

I'm only interested in a basic level of service (no HBO, etc.) so you can check out other options using their links. But can be a springboard from which you can learn what services are right for you.

Name
Contact Information
Notes

DISH

Direct TV

www.directtv.com

888-238-7177

Tech: 888-355-7530
Satellite direction: SW

Many apartments (including Alexan Farms) allow the installation of a dish as long as their rules are followed.

TV via satellite (takes the place of cable TV)

Package Approx' Price per month

Dish TV reception

  • Free installation for up to 3 rooms (with 3 receivers) for 1 year contract
  • $30 per month for 6 months
  • Includes local channels
40
TiVo DVR - $99 for unit (see note below) 5
TV: Extra room monthly cost 5

NOTE: Concerning the DVR, the 6 month special (worth $60) will pay for most of the DVR purchase price, and over 2 years, the $2 per month extra (compared to Time-Warner's DVR) will pay for the rest. They're essentially the same deal.

DISH

Echo Star -
Dish Network

www.echostar.com

Link Straight to Programming

800-333-3474

Many apartments (including Alexan Farms) allow the installation of a dish as long as their rules are followed.

Some may want to purchase equipment. I only included prices for rental for price comparison.

TV via satellite (takes the place of cable TV)

Package Approx' Price per month
Simple setup built from below. Get DHA for $50 which will be credited to your first bill, then get a dual tuner DVR for two TV sets (even if you use 1 - the price is the same, so be equipped for two) 35
More Detail

Dish TV reception

  • The service is called Digital Home Advantage (DHA). The $50 activation fee will be credited to your first bill. You need a credit or debit card (Visa or MC) and Social Security Number.
  • Price for two TV sets is the same and for that service, a different tuner will be used which must be connected to an existing phone line (it will call a toll-free number late at night and will not interrupt your calls)
  • Must order by June 30 for this special. (It may be extended, but there's no guarantee for orders placed after June 30)
  • Includes local channels
  • No contract or commitment
  • Free installation
  • For this price, I chose their programming called America's Top 60
30
Capability to add up to a 4th TV 5

A dual tuner DVR (model 522) (100 hours) can be used in place of the dual tuner above. There is no up-front charge, but rather only this monthly charge.

5
Option for "Home Protection Program" that will cover most any problem you have, including:
  • Technical support
  • Replacement equipment
  • Video Cabling & power surge repairs
  • In-home service
  • Free mover's program
6

 

DISH

VMC Satellite

www.vmcsatellite.com

877-998-3474 ext 1

More Contact Info

Package Approx' Price per month

Dish TV reception

  • 60 channel service
  • This is a two TV setup
  • Free Installation
  • 1 year contract
  • local channels are included
30

DVR

5
For a 3rd and/or 4th TV 5
Time-Warner

www.twc-nc.com/

Levels of Cable Service

919-595-4892

More Contact Info

  • Cable (analog or digital)
  • Cable Internet (High Speed)
  • Telephone (IF you subscribe to their cable and cable internet
Package Approx' Price per month
Digital cable (DigiPic 1000) 56

Analog cable (Standard)
(Installation costs)

44
Basic cable (analog with about 12 channels) 15
Internet - Road Runner 45
Internet - Earthlink (free install plus 6 months at 30/month) 45
DigiPic1000+RoadRunner internet (there is a 3 month special at 70/month) 91
Telephone (free U.S. long distance - ONLY packaged with cable and internet) 40
DVR unit (ONLY with digital cable service) 7
TV: Extra room monthly cost 9

Note: Digital Installation is free - Analog costs.

Verizon

Verizon Avenue is the name of the department that, in general, deals with apartment tenants

www.verizon.com/

Verizon Avenue:
866-892-8368

General Verizon:
800-483-4000

  • DSL (High Speed Internet)
  • Telephone
Package Approx' Price per month

DSL High Speed Internet

  • 30 day money back guarantee
  • no charge for equipment
  • no contract
  • no installation charge - $13 shipping for modem
35

Telephone

The monthly charge can be less if you cut some services. Costs break down this way:

  • 20 basic line
  • 9-16 service

Roughly $40 installation

36

Note: Verizon Wireless customers can request all charges to be listed on one bill.

Lingo www.lingo.com

(Thanks for the info Sven)

I know little about their plans, but they sounded great. For instance, the $15 plan includes 500 minutes to the US, Canada, and Western Europe (Western Europe includes 17 countries I think)! For $20 you get unlimited dialing to US, Canada, and Western Europe. (Thanks for this paragraph Sven.)

Check out their web site.

You need to have a Cable/Broadband connection for this service. They provide you with an adapter to attach between your modem and telephone and you can dial and receive calls from your existing phone. You likely have the choice of keeping your existing number. You likely have other options, like having other numbers that use area codes from anywhere in the country (so friends in your home state can call without long distance charges).

One advantage is that international calls tend to be far less expensive. See their web page for rates to specific countries.

Vonage www.vonage.com

(Thanks for the info Chinmay)

Vonage is a web based fixed telephone type service. Presently they have three plans (monthly):

  • USD 15 for a total talk time of 500 mins
  • USD 25 Unlimited local and domestic long distance, Canada and much of Europe.

I'm using this service now (June of 2006) and am very happy with it.

You need to have a Cable/Broadband connection for this service. They provide you with an adapter to attach between your modem and telephone and you can dial and receive calls from your existing phone. You often have the choice of keeping your existing number. You have other options (with a charge) like having other numbers that use area codes from anywhere in the country (so friends in your home state can call without long distance charges).

One advantage is that international calls tend to be far less expensive. See their web page for rates to specific countries.

Calling Plans (cards) See text

Here's an informative paragraph from Sven - Thanks Sven!

There are some really great post-paid and pre-paid calling plans available. For instance, I am using Acculinq at home (www.acculing.com). It is a post-paid service and has saved me a lot of money so far (compared to other international plans through AT&T, etc). And I am currently trying out Onesuite (www.onesuite.com). It is a pre-paid service - though very easy to setup and add funds to your account - and has even better rates. You can even use it to make international calls with your cell phone (you do use plan minutes though, but only pay the low per minute rates through Onesuite). So you can make a call to Germany on your cell for 3 cents/min or to Canada for 1.9 cents/min. And since I usually call on the weekends, I don't even lose my anytime minutes.

 

Contact Info© copyright - Mark W. Rice