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Moving due to military orders? Learn how to exercise your SCRA rights, avoid contract hassles, and find the top TV and Internet service for your household.

When given a permanent change of station order (PCS), military personnel and their families must navigate several logistics. In addition to the stress of moving a military family, these logistics can unfortunately include dealing with lease terminations and broken contracts.

While long-term commitments are commonplace with Internet and TV providers, there are ways to ensure these essential services don't become costly when military families are relocating.

Understanding legal protections regarding your rental agreement, as well as researching cable and Internet providers who understand the unique needs of military service, is essential.

Exploring the Military Clause in Internet and TV Contracts

Even if you signed up for a lengthy TV and Internet package prior to receiving a written PCS notice, Federal Law protects members of the armed forces from undue penalties. This is thanks to the Military Clause.

What is the Military Clause and How Does it Work?

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) offers a high level of protection for active-duty members (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, etc.), reservists, and the National Guard in various consumer agreements. That includes residential lease agreements, other contracts, and even Internet service provider (ISP) agreements with renters.

In fact, there’s a specific section of this legislation that addresses contracts for services including cell phones, Internet, and TV. A few triggers that can activate your SCRA rights include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Permanent Change of Station (PCS): Receiving PCS orders relocating you stateside or abroad requires a lot of flexibility from providers as it is usually a 30-day or less notice.
  • Deployment: Deployments that last longer than 90 days, especially those that limit your ability to communicate or use the service, may also qualify for SCRA protection.
  • Base Housing Transition: Sudden acceptance into military housing can mean needing to break an existing contract for off-base service. Some providers recognize this circumstance and make the transition as easy as possible.
  • Provider Unavailability: Sometimes, your new PCS location or temporary placement during deployment simply might not have coverage from your current Internet or TV provider.

Important to Note: If you’re having difficulty exercising your rights or terminating a contract, it can be helpful to seek legal assistance from your assigned military legal office. In the meantime, be sure to document everything and don't just stop paying your bill. To avoid disputes or additional fees, you usually need a copy of your orders or other clear proof of your qualifying service situation. In most cases, you can contact your provider's customer service line before you move — some even have a dedicated support line to help active duty members and military spouses.

Best Providers Offering Flexible Contracts for Military Families

Several companies not only recognize the SCRA but offer additional ways to support military families facing relocation challenges. Two of the most military-friendly cable and TV providers in the U.S. include:

  • Comcast Xfinity

    Founded by U.S. Navy veteran Ralph Roberts, Comcast Xfinity understands the complexities of military moves, allowing potential termination due to PCS changes. Since 2015, Comcast has also hired 21,000 veterans, National Guard and reserve service members, and military spouses. Plus: in 2023, Military Times recognized Comcast NBCUniversal as the top employer in telecommunications for veterans.

  • GCI

    To support Alaska’s more than 20,000 active-duty military members, GCI offers one of the best military discounts available. Plus, when it comes to mobile, military families can keep their out-of-state number.

  • Hargray

    Not only does Hargray offer exclusive perks to service members, their Heroes at Hargray program is designed to support local military personnel who are returning to the civilian workforce after military service.

  • Mediacom

    Mediacom is known for their employment of hundreds of veterans – making them a more appealing choice if other options aren’t available in your new neighborhood.

  • Spectrum

    Spectrum's benefits for members of the armed forces typically include waiving early termination fees for relocating service members. In many cases, they also offer discounts on active-duty member accounts, the option to transfer service seamlessly (if available at the new location), and, in certain cases, installation fee assistance/discounts. Plus, around one in 10 employees at Spectrum have a relationship with the U.S. military, including 8,395 veterans, 433 military spouses, and 247 reservists in 2023.

It’s important to note that providers often change the benefits they offer to members of the military. Regardless of the ISP you're contracted with, it’s always a good idea to contact them and your potential new provider to learn about the most current deals and programs available to military renters.

Navigating Contract Terms: What Military Households Should Know

Whether you’re transferring your TV and Internet service due to military orders or personal reasons, there are a few things you should consider before committing to a long-term contract:

  • The Fine Print: Carefully scour any contract's wording for "Military Clause" terms. If it’s not there, it doesn't necessarily mean your provider is inflexible, but knowing ahead of time can save you from a lot of headaches and surprises.
  • Beyond Basic SCRA: Providers have the right to exceed what federal and state laws require. That said, some have more lenient relocation cancellation policies for military clients.
  • Proof and Persistence: Be sure to get any agreements in writing (early termination waivers, etc.) when possible. In many cases, customer service representatives may promise leniency that later gets disputed if it’s not properly documented.

Tips for Negotiating Flexibility in Service Contracts

Even if your TV and Internet providers don’t have explicit language in their contracts that speak to the Military Clause, there are ways you can exercise your rights and increase the likelihood of a smooth transition. They include:

  • Early Notice: Alerting your provider to a pending PCS move as soon as possible improves outcomes.
  • Know Your Rights: Don't shy away from explaining the SCRA to less informed reps. If there's pushback on valid termination situations, seek your command's JAG for assistance.
  • Smaller Can Be Better: Don't discount regional providers like ArmstrongMCTV and others. Although they don’t have the same name recognition of larger companies, their contracts might have built-in flexibility or higher responsiveness to military circumstances.

Transferring or Pausing Services in Case of Relocation

If you’re moving to a location where your provider is already available, transferring your service is typically an easy and affordable – if not free – option. However, it’s important to note that your new area may have different plans, pricing tiers, or installation delays, so the earlier you start the process, the better.

If you’ve received temporary deployment orders, you may want to consider simply freezing your account in lieu of a full termination. While not every ISP offers this option, there are many that do. Give your provider a call to see what’s available to you under your specific circumstances.

Find the Right TV and Internet Provider With SmartMove

Whether you’re ready to get rid of your old provider or you’re moving to a new location where they don’t offer service, we can help. In fact, we can connect you with the best Internet providers and TV/streaming plans available in your area.

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