Connectivity choices: Will more options for high-speed internet & cable save you money?

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – Nobody ever likes getting the cable bill – or any bill for that matter.

How do we know this?

The 10 On Your Side’s email and phone lines have heard many viewers wanting to switch cable or internet providers if they only had the chance to.

For some time that was truly not even an option, but now that it will be, will it make a difference in what you pay?

At least three new cable and internet providers are continuing their move into the region this year: Shentel, Lumos and MetroNet.

In city’s like Norfolk and Suffolk, Cox Cable and Charter Communications respectively, have been the only option for combined residential cable TV, phone and home internet plans.

Installing fiber optic cable, in this case GloFiber, in Suffolk’s Hollywood neighborhood. The service, offered by Shentel, will now serve as an alternative Spectrum. In Norfolk, MetroNet is the additional option.

“Competition is healthy,” said Nneka Chiazor, Cox Communications’ market vice president. “The fact that there are others coming in to try and do the business (of) what we are doing is no surprise.”

Chiazor said Cox, which is the nations largest owned private cable company, can provide at least one gibibyte of fiber optic service to most of Hampton Roads right now and the company is “always expanding.”

The difference between cable and fiber is that content via cable is transmitted via co-ax cable and fiber is a medium transferred though cable made out of fiber glass.

Chiazor pushes back on the notion that Cox was ever a “monopoly,” because none of their agreements with Hampton Road’s cities were ever exclusive.

So will it change the prices they offer for their services? That depends on what prices, and types of services, those competitors are offering.

“We are just as competitive as our competitors,” Chiazor said.

Dr. Bob McNab, an economist at Old Dominion University, said that “everyone tends to win when there is competition.”

He says often when even perceived monopolies are challenged by another firm, prices will drop initially, but not long-term.

“We’re not expecting prices to drop 50% and stay there for several years,” McNab said, “But it restrains price growth.”

Meaning your bills might not increase as often.

Chiazor says the best way to try and reduce your bill – at least with Cox – is to call.

“Speak to us first, reach out to us, you know how to reach out to us,” Chiazor said. “We’re in the community. we’re here. We have a presence and we don’t take our presence here for granted.”

She said there are discount programs for various situations.