You've heard of triple-play bundles for TV, Internet, and home phone service, but what about quad-play? Verizon is adding wireless calling to its triple-play plans that have proven popular with consumers. By bundling all four services, Verizon customers could save from $59 to $179 annually, depending on which package they buy, the company says.
Of course, the devil's in the details with triple- and quad-play plans, and consumers should read the fine print carefully before signing up. A package deal may not save you money if includes a home phone you don't need, more TV channels than you want, or wireless services you never use. In addition, bundle discounts often expire after a year or two, at which point your monthly bill may rise.
Verizon's quad-play deals are targeted both at customers of its FiOS high-speed fiber network, and at those using its older copper (landline/DSL) system. The basic FiOS quad-play bundle, for instance, includes a national Verizon Wireless calling plan of 450 minutes, home phone service, Internet with a speedy 15/5Mbps downstream/upstream connection, and the FiOS TV Essentials service for $135 per month with a one-year agreement. The plans are for Verizon customers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S. markets. (Verizon Wireless is a joint venture between Verizon and Vodafone.)
If quad-play bundles catch on with consumers, we'll likely see more of the same from Verizon and rest of the telco/cable pack. "The desire for quad-play has been increasing. We ask consumers what kind of bundle they want, and quad-play has been pretty high on the list," says IDC research director Matt Davis, who's studied triple- and quad-play plans for years.
Cable providers, attempting to muscle into the wireless market, have tried quad-play bundles in the past. One sputtering effort was Pivot, a joint venture among Advance/Newhouse, Comcast, Cox, Sprint, and Time Warner Cable. But it hasn't taken off, and quad-play's market penetration remains low overall.
"It's still not very big because the cable operators stalled with Pivot, and they weren't able to supplement that," says Davis. However, the cable folks haven't given up on wireless or quad-play. They're forging deals with WiMax pioneer Clearwire, and Cox has its own plans for cell phone service.
AT&T has offered quad-play deals for some time. "AT&T has been the only company that has both been in the position to — and has had a focus on — driving not just a quad-play, but a wireless in a bundle of any kind," says Davis.