Communications services have overlapped a lot in the recent years, so it’s strange to actually subscribe to all three of these services. If you have decent internet speeds, you don’t really need cable services to watch TV. If you have cable internet, you can probably get VOIP service and skip having telephone service. If you spend all day at the lab and only go home to sleep, you probably don’t need cable or internet service at home since you won’t be using it anyway.
If you do need telephone service, consider looking into public assistance programs, because on the graduate student stipend, you will probably qualify. California provides the lifeline service which can help you get telephone service for cheap, and other states offer lifeline as well.
For internet (whether cable or DSL), most companies don’t seem to reward loyalty. They seem much more keen on stealing new customers from rivals than actually retain old customers. This is why the churn rates in these companies are high. That’s why there are huge incentives to jump from company to company rather than stay with your existing provider. However, service providers may offer discounts to keep you from jumping if you contact them about cancelling existing services. This will depend on the customer service rep. that you’ve managed to reach so don’t call to cancel if you don’t already have a rival’s offer in mind. If you like your service provider, but want to pay less for your current service, ask to be placed on a lower tier/cheaper service and check again in 3-6 months to see if there are any upgrade discounts available. Always keep in mind that service providers may have one-time activation fees or “non-contractual” minimum terms. The “non-contractual” minimal terms are there to try to reduce churn rates, at least until these companies can successfully further reduce your options by merging or buying one another out. Take advantage of the discount prices from this pseudo-competitive market while you can.
Looking ahead: a warning. Note that many cable and telecom companies have been trying to merge and/or buy one another out. Don’t expect to keep paying a reasonable price for service as these companies merge into bigger regional monopolies than they already are–especially since several companies have already been blackmailing Netflix into paying them. If you’re concerned about extracting reasonable value for your service, pay attention to proposed mergers of various service providers as well as the net neutrality issues especially since service providers are setting up fake anti-net neutrality consumer groups.