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Comcast Wishes You A Happy Rate Hike Season
It's that time of year again....
by Karl Bode 10:47AM Friday Sep 04 2009
It's once again cable rate hike season for Comcast customers, who'll be seeing higher bills depending on where you live, and depending on what competition Comcast sees in your market. Washington state residents will be the first lucky winners, given that Qwest is the primary phone company and telcoTV is a non-issue. In Washington, Comcast will be issuing a flurry of higher rates starting October 6. The hikes will cover not only TV service (traditionally blamed on higher broadcaster fees), but also assorted other hardware fees.

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According to a memo obtained by Broadband Reports, Limited Basic customers will see an average increase of $1.17 per month, while Comcast's entry level digital cable tier will jump $1.70 from $55.75 to $57.45. Comcast's digital additional outlet fee, used for customers with additional modems or set top boxes, will increase $1 from $5.10 to $6.10. Customers who rent modems or eMTAs for digital voice will also see their $3 monthly rental fee bumped to $5.

The memo, which provides talking points to employees when dealing with consumers, rhetorically asks: "does it make sense for us to raise prices given the state of the economy?" The memo responds to its own question with an unequivocal yes, though executives in the memo insist that imposing additional rate hikes during a sour economy was "discussed at the highest levels of the company" (you know, by the guys making nearly $25 million annually) and "was not taken lightly" by said millionaires.

Comcast reminds employees that DirecTV's basic tier jumped 30% this year, while several FiOS tiers have jumped $10 a month. As is usually the case, Comcast blames the higher costs on the higher costs of programming (specifically sports), but also lays the blame on "new advanced set top boxes and modems" and DOCSIS 3.0 network upgrades. The same upgrades the company in 2007 proudly proclaimed could be funded by "couch change." Comcast's second quarter earnings jumped 53%, and the carrier posted a three month net income of nearly a billion dollars.

On the positive side, the hikes are slightly less than they've been in years past, something recently predicted by at least one analyst, who claimed this year's cable rate hike season would be only 50% as potent as in recent years due to recession and telcoTV competition. Comcast customers outside of the Washington market upset they're being left out of the festivities will likely soon get hikes of their own. If your provider is raising rates, please drop us a line.

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Here's an idea or two...

Comcast blames the higher costs on the higher costs of programming (specifically sports), but also lays the blame on "new advanced set top boxes and modems" and DOCSIS 3.0 network upgrades.
Simple solution, Comcast (and all other providers): move all sports channels to a sports tier where they belong. Then drop the cost of basic cable without the sports tier down to reflect the savings. Those who are interested in having the sports tier can then purchase it as a premium package, just like movies and pay-per-view. This way those who do not care about receiving channels like ESPN don't have their bills inflated because of it.

These companies could also offer access to the sports tier on a pay-per-view type basis, charging some fee for 48 hour access over weekends or the like, for casual sports viewers. (Weekend access fees, when measured on a per-day basis, would be higher than just buying monthly access to the sports tier of course.)

Or, even better yet, why not just offer ala carte access to all channels-- like many users have been requesting for many years? The technology required to do this is in place, for the most part. The only thing stopping it is broadcasters, who bundle channels together to force viewers into paying for channels they neither want nor care about.
ObamaCare encourages euthanization of the old, pays for abortions of the almost-new, and rations care for all those in between while raising your taxes to pay for it. Government rationed, government controlled health cartels screw the middle class.