Want a Lower Broadband Bill? Maybe You Should Move

[qi:086] Want proof that competition will drive faster broadband speeds and lower prices? Try to negotiate a rate cut for your services, and learn for yourself why a duopoly won’t cut it when it comes to improving our nation’s broadband access, especially when providers can also cherry-pick where they roll out services.

Back in December, Alan Weinkrantz, a loyal reader of this blog, emailed to let me know he managed to get his AT&T (s t) bill practically cut in half by simply calling them up and threatening to take his business elsewhere. So in the spirit of saving money, I tried it myself. Time Warner Cable (s twc), my cable provider, basically laughed and told me to go ahead with AT&T’s plain DSL service offered in my area.

His plan didn’t work for me because I live in an area where there’s no comparable service, such as AT&T’s triple play U-verse offering, to switch to. My threats to drop my 7 Mbps downlink service for an AT&T DSL connection rang pretty hollow. Plus, I would then have to go to satellite for cable if I dropped Time Warner completely. Time Warner (was that a snicker I heard?) asked if I’d like to move to a lower tier instead.

Today the Wall Street Journal picked up Alan’s story (Go Alan!), as well as those of some other customers who were able to cut their bills as well. What the article doesn’t mention is that those customers likely had a decent alternative available when they planned their switch, or were willing to sacrifice speed for savings. So for those hoping to negotiate a cut in your comms bills, let me know how it goes. I’d like to know if you managed a discount, and whether or not there are credible alternatives to the service you currently use. My hunch is that only competition yields cost cuts, and folks stuck in the backwoods with no alternative but plain old DSL are hosed.