Broadband

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
cable, cord cutting, fees, prices



The Cable Industry's Ingenious 'Solution' To TV Cord Cutting? Raise Broadband Rates

from the Comcastic dept

In a healthy, competitive market, cable providers would respond to the growing threat of streaming video competition by lowering prices, improving their historically awful customer service, and giving consumers more flexible cable bundles.

But because these same cable operators enjoy a growing monopoly over the uncompetitive broadband market -- they don't have to do that. Instead, they've found that the easiest response to added competition on the TV front is to impose a relentless array of rate hikes on captive broadband customers. There's a myriad of ways they accomplish this, ranging from misleading hidden fees that jack up the advertised price (something they're being sued for), to usage caps and overage fees (which let them not only charge more money for the same service, but hamstring streaming competitors via tricks like zero rating).

But with the U.S. entering a period of rubber stamp regulators, and a lack of telco upgrades resulting in less competition than ever, Wall Street is pressuring cable operators to also jack up the standalone price of broadband services outright. New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin recently predicted that a lack of broadband competition could allow cable providers like Comcast to double already expensive broadband prices over the next year. UBS analyst John Hodulik issued a research note the same week stating that cable operators should specifically jack up the price of standalone broadband service to $80 to $90 per month.

Not too surprisingly, cable operators are already heeding these demands. Analysis from Morgan Stanley this week indicated that cable operators had already hiked the cost of standalone broadband 12% from last year's rates:

"In a note to clients Tuesday, Morgan Stanley said that based on its own survey, cable TV companies hiked broadband prices by 12% to $66 monthly from a year earlier for customers that buy only high-speed internet and not a TV package.

"As video revenue growth is increasingly pressured, leaning on data pricing is tempting to sustain earnings," said Benjamin Swinburne, a Morgan Stanley analyst in a report."

Tempting, indeed. Especially when there's neither healthy market competition nor regulatory oversight there to stop companies like Comcast and Charter from doing so. Of course this is before you factor in all manner of additional costs that await consumers over the next few years, from the problems that will be caused by the mindless gutting of popular net neutrality protections, to the Trump administration's gutting of privacy rules that would have stopped ISPs from their stated goal of charging users more money if they want to protect their own privacy.

And instead of creating policies aimed at improving competition in what's clearly not a healthy market, the Trump administration's FCC is engaged in the mindless gutting of consumer protections, and the manipulation of data to try and pretend the broadband market's obvious problems don't actually exist.


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 19 Oct 2017 @ 9:36am

    We've secretly replaced your super speed connections to the market with, standard Comcast service.

    Walk 15 minutes in our shoes and see the horrors your bullshit has wrought.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Champion, 19 Oct 2017 @ 9:44am

    i need to pee...my isp in canada lowered my monthly

    haha guess we give a shit what happens south of the border with all your insanity.....i think the song ....stuck n the middle with you is YOUR SONG..can't wait for nafta to end then we go off on our own and you really see what happens as we de-americanify everything

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

  • identicon
    SirWired, 19 Oct 2017 @ 9:47am

    Doesn't help out everyone, but look into EarthLink

    I'm a TWC (okay, offically Spectrum, whatever) customer who officially gets internet-only through Earthlink.

    It's a very strange setup; I have an Earthlink-owned IP address (and an Earthlink e-mail if I chose to use it), but other than that, it's TWC all the way... TWC bill (with a line that says "Earthlink Internet"), TWC support, and if I didn't have my own, a TWC-supplied modem, the works. I pay a long-term rate only $2 more than Spectrum's temporary promo rate. I've received routine speed upgrades in lockstep with regular TWC customers.

    I called them on the phone, signed up, and I had to reboot my cable modem to pick up the new IP; that was it. No tech visit, no sign up fee, nuthin...

    I think EarthLink has similar arrangements with several providers (not just Spectrum)

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

    • icon
      TenderBabyMeat (profile), 19 Oct 2017 @ 1:51pm

      Re: Doesn't help out everyone, but look into EarthLink

      Once upon a time I had a similar arrangement with a local ISP that subbed out through blocks of AT&T IPs. It was a pretty sweet deal because it was somehow cheaper than going through ATT directly yet was not subject to the data caps imposed by ATT to their own customers. What's more, the local ISP was more mellow than a hardcore stoner when it came to billing. No joke, they may as well just come out and say that paying for the service is optional and on the honor system.

      I wept softly when I moved out of their service area.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2017 @ 10:54pm

        Re: Re: Doesn't help out everyone, but look into EarthLink

        as a former earthlink employee who lost his job due to their idiotic management who couldnt make a decision when they SHOULD have which would have prevented that instead of shipping all of their support overseas, im going to ask that you DONT look at earthlink.

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

  • icon
    Chris ODonnell (profile), 19 Oct 2017 @ 9:50am

    I was just looking at broadband prices yesterday, as I'm moving in Nov. $40/mo for 50/50 FIOS Internet only. It's $70 a month for 100/100.

    Or, I can can get 100/100 Internet, cable, and phone, for $89, before all the bullshit fees and equipment rental, etc.

    They are basically giving cable away.

    I'm not doing it though, as I have 50/50 FOIS now and I've never had an issue with lack of bandwidth, so I don't see any reason to upgrade.

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

    • icon
      Ryunosuke (profile), 19 Oct 2017 @ 11:18am

      Re:

      I am seriously considering switching TO Comcast (or at least another cable provider). Reason is, While AT&T is stable... it's also pretty slow. not even up to broadband specs (worldwide specs). and for the same price, I could get 10x the speed with Comcast.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2017 @ 12:06pm

        Re: Re:

        You can get 10x the speed at 3am. Probably 1x the speed any other time. Assuming the service is up at all.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2017 @ 10:56pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          ya know... not everywhere in comcast land is down 100% of the time. to be honest, i dont ever have problem with the service itself. its the support and customer service that sucks. in my area? the service itself is better than ATT hands down.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2017 @ 12:19pm

      Re:

      What's phone service these days except for a low-speed internet data stream and a number assignment? That's worth maybe a few bucks a month. Which means the cable is worth about $15/month in that bundle, which is hardly "giving it away"... actually, isn't it still more than their online competitors are charging?

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

  • identicon
    Anon, 19 Oct 2017 @ 9:50am

    If my internet providers tries such shenanigans, I'll simply switch to any of the 1's of competing internet providers.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2017 @ 12:40pm

      Re:

      Yeah exactly. In my area, you can have Mediacom (decently fast internet, blah cable tv) or Centurylink (slow, shitty DSL). Choices, choices, I just can't decide!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2017 @ 10:14am

    How exactly do you see a monopoly due to physical locale could ever be "competitive"?

    It's a bad premise for comparison. Never exists for utilities -- that why the term.

    Anyhoo, with another characteristic oversight you zoom right past the key problem: Wall Street, The Rich, stockholders, parasites on society all, demanding high profits so that they can live even more ridiculously high.

    Yet again the solution to this starts with steeply progressive tax rates on The Rich. -- None of you here are The Rich, but you've been manipulated to think that you're somehow better off by allowing the few to gain money out of all reasonable proportion. You ignore the facts that The Rich demanding ever more excess for themselves is inevitable.

    Solution is easy: REGULATE UTILITIES and TAX THE HELL OUT OF THE RICH. Take the money out of every monopoly. It's proven to work.

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

    • icon
      compujas (profile), 19 Oct 2017 @ 12:23pm

      Re: How exactly do you see a monopoly due to physical locale could ever be "competitive"?

      Define "The Rich" and explain how you intend to guarantee that when that new money is no longer enough that the definition of "The Rich" doesn't suddenly creep to start including "The Not Quite So Rich, but Still More Money Than Me So It's OK".

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2017 @ 10:24am

    Comcast bumped me a couple of dollars this year. Cable rates are going to start going up $5.00/year and get the same BS fees that TV does.

    What can I do, go back to ATT? Move to find a better provider?

    Meanwhile, president Dumb Dumb will, well, whatever he does on Twitter, it won't help.

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

  • identicon
    Comcrap, 19 Oct 2017 @ 10:34am

    And if that doesn't teach those cord cutters a lesson...

    we'll raise the rates some more!

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

  • identicon
    ANON, 19 Oct 2017 @ 10:40am

    But...

    If they raise the rates on internet, it will just encourage more cord-cutting. After all, the internet is a necessity today. So people are not going to drop internet if the overall cost goes up - they'll drop the other services - TV, phone - which can be done over the internet also.

    Perhaps the cable companies will like this. Charge the same, but since specialty cable TV channels are paid by the subscriber usually, fewer cable subscribers means less money going out if the cable companies can make up the TV revenue difference in internet revenue.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2017 @ 12:27pm

      Re: But...

      So people are not going to drop internet if the overall cost goes up - they'll drop the other services - TV, phone - which can be done over the internet also.

      But dropping the TV service will raise the price with some companies. It might be $70/month for TV+internet and $75 for internet alone. Companies should be getting people off cable to reduce their programming costs, but 1) some of that money goes right back to their other divisions (Comcast owns Universal for ex.) and 2) they're still in denial.

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

      • icon
        orbitalinsertion (profile), 19 Oct 2017 @ 3:59pm

        Re: Re: But...

        Yup. It significantly raises the internet-only rate, and then they throw ridiculously low caps on it. So cord-cutters (i.e., people who still watch programs) are not going to make out at all, unless they watch little. It would pretty much suck even for me, and i don't watch much if anything.

        With even higher rates, it will definitely have the effect they want.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2017 @ 10:46am

    I for one welcome this

    I have long believed that nothing of substance will change until they mess with most peoples' television. Bring it on.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2017 @ 11:08am

    When I signed up for Comcast it was cheaper to get cable and internet together than just cable. The cable box remains unopened in a box in a closet.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2017 @ 11:10am

    Recently Ditched Comcast TV

    Internet bill went up by $5.

    Surprisingly, it was one phone call that took only about 4 minutes. Returning my equipment next week and will be a happy internet only customer if they don't raise my bill any more.

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

  • identicon
    Paul Brinker, 19 Oct 2017 @ 11:13am

    Commercial Service

    With Internet access there does become a point where I will swap over to a commercial account if things get to far out of hand. That way I don't need to deal with overage caps (which can push your bill into commercial territory already) and prices changes over the contract term as you can quite easily pull out your itemized contract and state your paying for what you signed up for and no one passed a law adding what ever your calling a tax.

    Accounts like this assume the other side has access to a lawyer, Accounts Payable department, and accounting that wont allow for stupid stuff. Unlike home service where you just add a new tax every few months.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2017 @ 5:21pm

    In some places where AT&T no longer offers landline phone services, they are renting out the lines to broadband internet providers, who could become serious competition to the cable companies.

    In the Sacramento suburb where I live, AT&T does just that. AT&T no longer offers landlines, but the lines are rented out to Sonic and CalWeb, who provide broadband services for way less than that Comcast does for the same level of service.

    Sonic is now offering 20 megabit internet, plus a home phone, for just $63 a month. On Comcast, you would pay a hell of a lot more.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2017 @ 11:00pm

      Re:

      and if sonic would get their asses to my area and give me 20/20 id move in a heartbeat.
      but they wont. no one will. and the dumbest part of all is that before winfirst crashed and burned they actually ran fiber in the neighborhood. its all there but no one will hook it up.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2017 @ 11:22pm

        Re: Re:

        What kind of speed you get with Sonic will depend on where you are. Where I live the top speed is 20 megabits, but some places it is up to 40

        and Calweb will soon be offering 75 megabits for $139 a month, which is better than anything Comcast will likely never have.

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

  • identicon
    anon, 19 Oct 2017 @ 9:06pm

    Obviously people will do what's cheaper in the long run. If a package with TV is cheaper, people will buy the TV package and basically watch almost nothing - thus driving up the costs for the cable provider (they have to pay the included specialty channels) and driving down the Nielsen ratings, since they are not watching.

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

  • icon
    MyNameHere (profile), 20 Oct 2017 @ 2:27am

    Sort of a supply and demand thing - they control the supply, and as demand goes up, prices naturally head upwards.

    It's pretty basic, Mike can explain it to you if you like.

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

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 20 Oct 2017 @ 7:30am

      Re:

      So... shouldn't we take the control of the supply off them so they can't screw us any more? In a free market, this wouldn't be a problem but we haven't got one and this doesn't seem to bother you.

      I'm for making the market more free and open, with regulations designed to keep it that way.

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

      • icon
        MyNameHere (profile), 20 Oct 2017 @ 9:34pm

        Re: Re:

        Google will never admit it, but even they figured out that trying to catch up to the incumbent players is a lost cause. The return on investment is too small - and that was with cherry picking only higher density areas and not serving the "one house every 5 miles" rural parts of America.

        Remember too, wireless is (and will always be) supply limited. There is only so much bandwidth to work with, you can only fit so many towers, and they can only handle so much throughput. Wireline is better, but still limited by distance and cost per mile.

        Supply will always be at least somewhat limited, especially outside of the densest population centers. Thus, demand pushes prices up.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2017 @ 5:38am

    well

    DUH

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2017 @ 6:51pm

    The people's ingenious solution to broadband rates raise? More TV cord cutting and file-sharing.

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


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