Broadband

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
data caps, rate hikes, sneaky fees, usage caps

Companies:
comcast



Happy New Year From Comcast: Usage Caps, Rate Hikes, And More Sneaky Fees In 2017

from the innovation! dept

Comcast continues to perfect the art of raising rates in a variety of creative new ways. In addition to just straight rate hikes to TV and broadband service, the company has taken to using hidden fees to covertly jack up the cost of service even higher. These fees take some of the cost of doing business and bury it below the line, letting Comcast falsely advertise a lower rate. This is all before you even get to Comcast's slow and steady expansion of usage caps and overage fees, which are just glorified rate hikes being imposed on uncompetitive broadband markets.

This week the company began informing customers that they'll be paying 3.8% more for service starting in the new year. In addition to increases in most of the company's bundles, TV and broadband packages, Comcast will be raising the company's sneaky "broadcast TV fee," as well as the company's ever-skyrocketing regional sports fees:
The Broadcast TV fee is moving from $5 a month to $7 a month, while the Regional Sports Network fee is rising from $3 a month to $5 a month, according to notices sent to customers in several cities. Combined, that's a change from $8 to $12 a month, giving Comcast an extra $48 a year from each customer that has to pay the fees.

Comcast began charging these fees a few years ago, and has increased them quickly. Just over a year ago, Comcast raised the Broadcast TV fee from $3 to $5 and the Regional Sports fee from $1 to $3. The two fees have thus gone from $4 to $12, combined, in little more than a year.

...The Broadcast TV fee was introduced in 2014, initially as $1.50 a month, and the Regional Sports fee was added in 2015 at $1 a month.
You might recall that Comcast is currently being sued over the broadcast TV fee, which simply takes a part of the cost of programming and buries it below the line, again letting Comcast mislead customers as to what the service actually costs in advertising. When the company was criticized back when the fee was introduced in 2014, Comcast tried to claim that hiding the real cost of service was just its way of being "transparent" with consumers. While Comcast's certainly being transparent, it's not quite in the way they meant.

Comcast, for what it's worth, continues to justify the rate hikes with the usual statement about how gosh, programming these days sure is expensive:
"We continue to make investments in our network and technology to give customers more for their money— like faster Internet service and more Wi-Fi hotspots, more video across viewing screens, better technology like X1 and a better customer experience. Unfortunately, the costs we are charged to carry popular networks continue to increase significantly, especially broadcast television and sports programming, which are the largest drivers of increases in price adjustments."
And while Comcast certainly does pay a significant amount for programming, it certainly helps that the company owns NBC Universal, not to mention a number of regional sports networks. But these programming-related fees also aren't the only fees seeing an increase. The company is also informing users that the company's "digital adapter outlet fees" will be increased from $3.49 to $5.49 per outlet, and a fee to reactivate TV service is being bumped from $1.99 to $3.50. And again, this is all before we get into Comcast's usage caps, which penalize users looking to use streaming video competitors.

And if you're looking for things to get better anytime soon, you may be waiting a long while. Comcast may be facing greater competition from streaming competitors on the video front, but its monopoly over broadband is only growing as phone companies like AT&T and Verizon give up on upgrading unwanted DSL users. Combine that with an incoming Trump administration that's giving every indication it intends gut the FCC as a consumer watchdog, and there's going to be less market and regulatory pressure on Comcast than ever to offer quality service and decent customer service at a reasonable price.

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  • identicon
    Harold, 15 Dec 2016 @ 6:43am

    Comcast Billing

    I was once a Comcast customer and I eventually cancelled due to the ever increasing cost.

    So, if Comcast is interested in being transparent with customers they should really do it:

    Comcast Cost $10
    NBC Broadcast Fee $ 1
    CBS Broadcast Fee $ 2
    ABC Broadcast Fee $ 3
    ESPN Broadcast Fee $15
    etc, etc.

    Then the customer gets to pick and choose what they want to pay for. I hated paying $110 per month for the eight or so channels I watched.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      JoinMe, 15 Dec 2016 @ 7:00am

      Re: Comcast Billing

      I'm switched to DSL in protest of Comcast. If only enough others joined me in this, Comcast would then have actual incentive to change their behaviors.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 7:57am

        Re: Re: Comcast Billing

        boycotting businesses and a free market principle... you will find no such traction at TD. They much prefer the standard regulatory capture that is occurring despite lip-service to the contrary.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 8:23am

          Re: Re: Re: Comcast Billing

          Boycotting only works en masse. We can't even get people to agree on which way to hang the toiletpaper. You can't herd cats.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 15 Dec 2016 @ 8:46am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Comcast Billing

            More importantly boycotting also requires actual alternatives, or a service that's feasible to go without entirely for long enough that the boycott will matter. When Comcast or one of the other major companies is the only option available in an area, making the choice of 'Internet from Comcast' vs 'No internet at all', a boycott isn't really feasible for many people.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              I Love Capitalism, 15 Dec 2016 @ 12:53pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Comcast Billing

              If you don't like the service providers in your area, move to a different area.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Wendy Cockcroft, 19 Dec 2016 @ 2:20am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Comcast Billing

                We're not set up to be a nomadic society, so "Move elsewhere" is not practicable for most of us. Besides, "Take it or leave it, chump" is antithetical to a free market. Or are you describing a free-for-all?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Karl Bode (profile), 15 Dec 2016 @ 9:45am

          Re: Re: Re: Comcast Billing

          "boycotting businesses and a free market principle"

          That requires having alternatives to choose from. That's kind of hard when you have people who profess to adore "free markets" letting AT&T, Verizon and Charter write state laws protecting their legacy fiefdoms from competition.

          In fact I'd bet 90% of the folks I see going on about "free markets" when talking about telecom work tirelessly to ensure the exact opposite.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 9:59am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Comcast Billing

            I hear you.

            There are days when I want to head to town hall and educate them on community broadband as an alternative. I live in Microsoft's backyard or they live in mine - I could literally throw a rock at their campus - you'd think we'd have awesome alternatives for ISPs but we don't.

            I have contacted City Hall with grievances in the past when I had Comcast but they relegated complaints about "infrastructure" to one person working out of a closet who said they had no real power but would take notes.

            I hate having (not broadband) through DSL and hate that the only choice presented came from Duopolies. Now I have the lesser of two evils and less capacity but at least the bill doesn't go up every six months and when power goes out I still have a connection, albeit not broadband speeds.

            Where are all the principled people, you know, those that would boycott something to try and achieve an actual goal?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 9:45am

          Re: Re: Re: Comcast Billing

          I have found no such thing here at TD, not sure what you're talking about. Perhaps a few examples would bolster your opinion.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 7:22am

    FCC is a toothless watchdog

    Lots of moaning here lately abouy Trump and the FCC yet thr FCC has done nothing to indicate it actually is a consumer watchdog.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 8:03am

      Re: FCC is a toothless watchdog

      the FCC is an industry whore, always has been, always will be. The Wheeler anomaly is just that... an anomaly, while sure his actions were better than what we had, zero rating still got put in as a loop hole and the new rules were just as bad as the old rules!

      In the end the FCC tried for a power grab and failed, which IS a good thing because the only thing a regulatory agency can constitutionally do is enforce the laws the Congress writes, not the laws they write.

      Out government is so fundamentally fucked up right now most people do not even know any better. They are so used to the corruption and bullshit they cannot see outside of the box they keep themselves in!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Karl Bode (profile), 15 Dec 2016 @ 9:48am

      Re: FCC is a toothless watchdog

      "FCC has done nothing to indicate it actually is a consumer watchdog."

      Right, except for net neutrality. Or the new privacy rules that force transparency and working opt out tools. Or its attempts to stop Comcast from using state laws to hamstring competitors. Or its efforts to ensure a functional shift from copper to IP without screwing people on legacy systems. Or the constant effort by Wheeler to highlight the lack of competition above 25 Mbps. Or....

      You folks insisting this latest FCC suffered from the faults of past iterations are simply seeing what you want to see.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 15 Dec 2016 @ 8:14am

    i had a thought, if AT&T and verizon are not willing to upkeep and expand their broadband networks, FORCE them to sell it to either Google and/or local municipalities.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      dbrower, 15 Dec 2016 @ 9:06am

      FORCE

      Very hard for DSL providers to offload, because they are tied to the legacy/regulated copper wires for POTS. The physical plant is deeply intertwingled.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 8:25am

    Programming keeps getting more expensive while the quality of content continues to decline. HMMMMMMMMMMMM.

    Yet services like Netflix continue to create damn good quality content (even if it has its fair share of crap).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 9:00am

    Happy New Year from Comcast: Creating traffic accidents and not caring.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCEzEVJkO1U

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 15 Dec 2016 @ 10:55am

    Perhaps it is time to admit they aren't free market players. They have been handed monopolies/douopolies & there is no choice for consumers. They are bending over consumers with the blessing of the government at every level often for paltry 'donations' to their war chests.

    Perhaps if they had to admit how much it actually costs them to deliver the product & explain why they are charging huge multiples more than that other than they face no actual competition.

    People could access other providers over the web, but its been blocked repeatedly & many of these providers put caps in place to make their services seem like a better value vs streaming from a 3rd party.

    Perhaps it is time to just make fiber part of the infrastructure of the nation. Stop allowing providers to inflate their profits while giving consumers less & make them compete with the upstarts who can make handsome profits chargeing 1/3 as much.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    slowgreenturtle (profile), 15 Dec 2016 @ 3:18pm

    Monopoly

    There needs to be less regulation in this industry.

    Comcast's monopoly comes from local governments allowing only Comcast in a particular area. Why not remove the government's ability to restrict competition? Then you don't need MORE government (FCC) watching the company, but competitors willing to provide better service. I've never understood why we put in regulations, then demand more regulations when those first regulations don't work--as if that's the solution.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 12:06am

      Re: Monopoly

      Any service that needs pipes or wires to be run to the customers premises needs local regulation because of r=issues of rights of way and avoidance of conflicts between the routing of services. Wireless, at least where it is required to cover an area is also subject to regulation to prevent interference, and also for placement of towers.

      Your dreamed for free for all could get ugly, especially when a dozen companies want to plant poles or dig trenches through your and your neighbors property.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 7:15pm

    Economics 101 says that monopolies are generally the outcome of a free market.

    I am sure Mike Masnick can explain that simple concept to you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 8:36pm

    One more reason to cut the cord.
    I wish I had FIOS.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Happy new Year 2017, 16 Dec 2016 @ 2:44am

    It is great

    Well, it is increasing the sneaky fee, we can also able to cut that by boycott.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2016 @ 9:48am

    Common Business Pracitce

    Advertising one price, and then adding on taxes and fees to get another at the time of sale is a legal and common business practice in the US. Given that, how can you fault a business for engaging in it? If you want to change it, tell your legislators to change the law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Corey, 18 Dec 2016 @ 10:32am

    It seems to me with so many people not happy with cable, and the streaming services taking hold, the price of cable should be dropping not increasing!!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Grumpt Old Man, 12 Jan 2017 @ 10:49am

    Reason for rate hike: Greed (see below)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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