EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Focus

April 7, 2008

Focus: These days, choice abounds for cable, phone, Internet

No longer do cable customers have to worry about catching their favorite sports teams live on television, missing the latest episode of their favorite shows or sitting down in front of the TV at a specific time to watch a movie or special event.

On the Internet, the ability to download larger files, such as movies and music, is becoming easier as telecommunications companies compete to provide faster and better service.

And as more people are choosing one company for their Internet, cable service and phone, they can check voice mail and e-mail all at the same Web site home page and pay for it all on the same bill.

Today, millions of consumers are now getting their phone service from the same company that provides their cable and Internet — so called bundled packages where all three communications vehicles are provided by the same company at a discount.

And when it comes to content, the options for consumers are multiplying exponentially.

High-definition, original and local programming are seeing the most growth, industry officials said. Everything from dating services and cooking shows to reviews of local restaurants and tourist attractions to rebroadcasts of local parades and major sports contests to network shows and premium cable networks like HBO and Showtime are available by the hundreds whenever the consumer wants them.

In the battle for the hearts, minds and entertainment dollars of consumers, companies are offering a dizzying array of programs, products and services. Or, as they would perhaps rather see it put, they are dedicated to providing something for everyone — and at the customer's leisure.

Better customer service, lower prices, faster Internet and more original, local and high-definition programming are among the perks of the battle being driven and promoted locally and nationally by companies such as Comcast, Verizon and DirectTV.

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