Contract-free services: Who wants to think beyond the month?

Subscription business model

Leichtman Research Group released a report that discovered 13 of the largest pay-TV providers like Time Warner and DirecTV lost 150,000 video subscriber customers in a single quarter in comparison to only 25,000 the quarter before. The theory is more and more people are consuming media via services like Netflix and Hulu, as well as non-contract video providers. But cable isn’t the only provider to ditch the contracts and offer month-to-month consumer services. Imagine how much you could save by going contract-free and eliminating the need to lock-in on just one service option.

Cloud Storage

The need for cumbersome hard drives, USB sticks and CDs full of data is near obsolete. Instead, you can now store everything from photos to legal documents in cloud-based storage. The cloud allows you to access your media or important documents from anywhere an Internet connection is available. Many services like Dropbox start out as a free service with paid upgrade options depending on how much storage you need. But even when you upgrade, Dropbox doesn’t have contracts or lengthy paperwork to get started. You can also look to iCloud, Google Drive or even Amazon’s cloud service for more media storage options.


No-contract service is still relatively new to the smartphone industry. Most people take for granted they can even get a new smartphone without a hefty contract in place. Wal-mart sells a large selection of no-contract and prepaid smartphones like the T-Mobile Nokia Lumia. Virgin Mobile also sells unlimited data, talk and text for as low as $35 a month and no contract.

Some savvy smartphone users have also figured out how to ditch paying for phone usage almost altogether by relying on free wireless connections. Services like Scratch Wireless and Republic Wireless offer smartphones for less than $100 and rely on free wireless to make calls and send texts whenever possible. The upside is no contracts or expensive fees but the downside can mean periodic dropped calls and spotty service.

Home Security

Keeping your home or business secure doesn’t require an expensive contract. Companies like Lorex sell security cameras so you can see exactly what’s going on whether you’re right next door or in another country. Record footage for review later or to take a closer look at any suspicious goings-on. Unlike many home security systems, Lorex doesn’t require a contract to get up and running with anything from a stand-alone monitoring camera to a full home security camera system. Free mobile apps for monitoring on-the-go and recording without a monthly subscription fee make it easy and affordable to feel protected.


Like smartphones, cable has been a slow adapter to the no-contract model. Time Warner offers service packages without a contract to sign or lock-in pricing. Meanwhile, Optimum TV offers 165 free HD channels without extra equipment to buy or contracts to sign starting at $29.95 a month.

There are other ways to get TV and movies without using cable at all. Signing up for online-only packages with a company like AT&T U-verse could eliminate a cable bill altogether. Instead, use services like Amazon Prime, Netflix or a no-subscription video platform like YouTube to catch shows and videos. Many popular TV networks like NBC will also let you watch free shows online through their sites once the episode has aired.



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