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Lifetime price points for broadband not what they seem

$29.99 a month forever sounds great until the $19.99 a month plans debut.

I just got my digital TV converter box. I'm planning on dumping Comcast, and this is the first step. The next is either DSL or Clearwire or something--anything--but the "traffic shaping" cable giant's offers. In shopping around, I've noticed that many broadband sellers (Comcast included) are offering a special price and, if you sign up for a two-year contract, the ability to lock that price in for life.

Sounds good, right? $29.99 for broadband, from now till you switch carriers, even if their prices go up. The thing is, it's not a great deal.

Broadband prices are dropping, and they're not likely to go higher. While you may save a few dollars per month in the short run, you're locked in to that price for at least two years, even if the carriers' prices drop.

Most providers have a "no commitment" option, which is what you should choose. This means that if they drop their price in the future, you can get the lower price. Or, more to the point, if a competitor comes out with a really great deal you can jump ship without early termination fees.

Be a smart shopper and don't let them trap you into a long-term contract. Now if only we could get the cell phone carriers on board, we'd be in good shape.