When DSL providers dropped their prices this year, there was supposed to be a full-blown price-war with cable. Well, there was no war - but some interesting, albeit regional, cable bargains emerged to indicate there's at least the hint of a skirmish.
Earlier this year we were the first to mention
that Comcast was offering broadband service for $19.95 a month in limited markets. If users in California, Illinois and Maryland presented their DSL bill, they could receive service at that price for twelve months (see subsequent discussion in our Comcast forum
In 2002, cable executives noted they'd be avoiding introductory discounts to reduce churn, but so far that hasn't proven true. This year Optimum On-line (one of the traditionally faster services according to our speed test archive
) launched a promotional campaign that offers six months of service for $29.95 a month
. The new offer replaces an existing deal where customers could get their first three months of service for $19.95 a month. Similar offers do exist with other cable providers, though they're less common with smaller providers.
Some providers are also offering some tasty discounts when users threaten to terminate their accounts. After complaining about price hikes
this year, some Optimum On-line customers were offered reduced rates in the hope they'd be willing to stick around. One user in our Optimum-Online forum claims he threatened to cancel and was offered a $20 coupon off of one month's bill, which he rejected. In response, Cablevision apparently offered him a $10 monthly credit until December of '03
(he wound up paying $34.95 for the rest of the year).
These kinds of offers were scattered, but common. When it came to direct price reduction from DSL competition however, cable executives stood strong and tried to pass off DSL price reductions in 2003 as a non-issue. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts claimed earlier this year that that price reductions from SBC and Verizon didn't matter, because DSL was a "less robust product".
Despite the talk, there are hints in some markets that Cable is at least slightly concerned, Comcast's 12 month deal being only one. Now a user in our Time Warner/Roadrunner forum claims that in Kansas City, Time Warner is matching SBC's $26.95 a month deal, offering cable broadband at that price for the next twelve months
. Time Warner is a little disjointed from market to market (as differences in their now defunct Xtreme tier illustrated this year), so it's unlikely that price is part of a larger initiative.
Keep your eyes trained to our front page listing of broadband deals
(currently in beta and only available for premium
users); hopefully 2004 will find more competitive pressure, and some fantastic bargains.