Media puts coal in Xfnity’s  stocking  with rate increase news


Good afternoon,

For media outlets, the headlines were too good to pass up. Around the country, Comcast Xfinity’s holiday rate increase got the grinch treatment.

Rates are going up as Comcast’s Xfinity service heavily advertises its holiday specials for new customers.

The 3.6 percent rate hike does not affect customers under contract, except in the case of equipment or services outside the contract. Those fees often raise howls from folks who did not read through the document.

The main reason for the rate hike – continuing increases in channels that charge Comcast for access.

Not that Comcast is falling on hard times. Even though customers are “cutting the cord,” in response to cable rates, earnings are up at the company that employs 1,000 in Delaware.

Also, Comcast is not a one-trick pony. The Philadelphia company’s far-flung media-entertainment empire includes NBC, MSNBC, Europe’s Sky TV, and Universal theme parks.

In justifying the rate hikes, cable companies like Verizon (FiOS) and Comcast/Xfinity point to improvements that include voice remotes and Internet speed upgrades at no extra charge.

Comcast is especially proud of its system’s ability to limit access to mobile devices for the younger members of the family. It has also worked to upgrade customer service and has opened shiny retail stores that showcase technology and answer questions.

One advantage for Xfinity/Comcast and rival Verizon FiOS is the fact that they still have control of the cord. Both offer Internet-only access that can stream TV programming packages.

Sweetening the deal

Xfinity has sweetened the deal with a set-top box for “Internet-only” users that reduces the need for multiple remotes.

DirectTV and Dish are also in the picture, although their Internet speeds are lower and deep discounts only last so long.

Sticker shock can take over when the renewal comes up. A $20 or $30 a month increase that pops up online adds up over a couple of years as providers tack on those yearly increases. Then you suddenly realize that adding gigabit Internet and HBO to get Game of Thrones added up to the equivalent of a car payment.

Adding to the confusion are direct mail pieces to your home and business that offer lower rates if you simply switch. Crunching the numbers sometimes leads to only a tiny increase in costs once bells and whistles are added.

Another factor is the rising price of streaming packages that can be brought in via your Internet connection – Hulu, YouTube, Roku, Sling and the lists goes on. Again, visions of big savings evaporate.

If you live in Wilmington, an interesting option is locally owned WhyFly, an antenna-based system that brings broadband access to your home or office.

My advice for what it’s worth. Once the renewal deadline looms, call your provider and ask for options that don’t show up on the website. Or you can be like some people I know and switch to snap up any savings.

If both FiOS and Xfinity offer service near your home or business, there’s a fair chance of getting a break.

Here’s to a productive Wednesday and not losing your remote.

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