Enlarge /. Comcast Xfinity cable television installation truck parked on a street in front of a suburban home, San Ramon, California, May 17, 2018. (Photo by Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images)
Getty Images | Smith Collection | Gado
Comcast is increasing prices for cable television and Internet services on January 1, 2021, with price increases resulting in both standard monthly rates and hidden fees not included in the prices quoted.
TV customers get an especially tough deal as Comcast increases Broadcast TV by $ 4.50 per month and Regional Sports Network (RSN) by $ 2. That's an increase of up to $ 78 per year due to two fees alone not included in the prices quoted.
As in previous years, customers who still have special prices will not be spared from the fee increases for radio television and RSN. "Promotional customers will not see prices change until the end of the promotion, but RSN and broadcast TV fees will rise as they are not part of the promotional pricing," a Comcast spokesman told Ars.
Without the impending hike, the broadcast TV fee is currently between $ 7.90 and $ 14.95, depending on the market, the spokesman said. The RSN fee is a maximum of $ 8.75 per month in most Comcast areas. However, according to Comcast, that fee is $ 14.45 for customers in the Chicago area who have access to Sinclair's Marquee Sports Network, which broadcasts Chicago Cubs games. The RSN fee is not charged in some markets without an RSN.
Six internet-only packages, priced at $ 53 to $ 113 per month, all increase by $ 3 per month, and the price for professional installations or in-home service visits increases from $ 70 to $ 100. Comcast revealed price hikes in a notice shared on Reddit:
List of Comcast price increases effective January 1, 2021 in Chicago.
While the above price hike notice applies to Chicago only, a Comcast spokesperson confirmed to Ars that the price hikes will be nationwide. The Chicago Pricing List does not include the regional sports network fee as the RSN fee increased on October 1, 2020 with the addition of the Marquee Sports Network. The RSN fee will increase by $ 2 in all other markets starting January 1st. 2021, "Comcast told Ars.
"Other changes for 2021 include an increase in TV fees of up to US $ 4.50 depending on the market, an increase of US $ 3 for Internet-only services and an increase of up to US $ 2.50 for TV Boxing in the main socket with a drop of up to $ 2.45 TV boxes in additional sockets, "added the Comcast spokesman. The fee for a customer's primary TV box increases from $ 5 to $ 7.50, while the fee for additional boxes is decreased from $ 9.95 to $ 7.50.
While the Chicago price list says that the base price of the Choice TV package will increase from $ 25 to $ 30 per month, it is not clear which TV packages will receive price increases in other areas. Comcast announced that changes in base TV pricing will vary by market.
Comcast charges a monthly fee of $ 30 to upgrade from the 1.2TB plan to unlimited data or $ 25 per month for customers who purchase xFi Complete, including unlimited data and rental of the Comcast gateway modem / router. The xFi Complete fee is only $ 20 in some markets, but Comcast told Ars that the price will be raised to $ 25 in those markets to match prices charged in the rest of the country.
Comcast accuses programmers
Comcast defended the price increases with the following statement:
Rising programming costs – especially for TV and sports broadcasts – continue to be the main drivers of price increases for all content distributors and their customers, not just Comcast. We continue to work hard to manage these costs for our customers as we invest in our network to provide the best and most reliable broadband service in the country and the flexibility to choose our industry leading video platform with X1 or the highest quality streaming product with Flex, the only free voice remote streaming TV included with broadband service.
Comcast cannot just blame other programmers for price increases, however, as Comcast itself owns NBCUniversal and thus sets the price of all NBCUniversal content including national channels and eight RSNs in major markets. Although Comcast owns NBC, the cable company recently warned customers that they could lose NBC channels if Comcast can't sign a new contract with … NBC. The absurd situation was summed up by TechDirt in an article aptly titled, "Comcast Tells Customers They May Lose Access to Comcast Channels If Comcast Disagrees Comcast".
On the broadband side, Comcast seems to be justifying price increases due to the company's investment in improving its network. However, Comcast scaled back investments in its cable division in 2019 and again reduced investments in the cable division in the first nine months of 2020.
As we reported on Monday, Comcast will also enforce the 1.2TB monthly data limit across its entire 39-state territory in 2021. Comcast currently enforces the cap in 27 states.
Comcast is the largest cable company and broadband operator in the US, followed by Charter, which has also been raising prices on a regular basis. The companies do not compete against each other and have a virtual monopoly on wired high-speed broadband in much of the US. Charter increases prices for its Spectrum service in December. Charter is prohibited from setting data caps until May 2023 due to a merger condition, but has requested the Federal Communications Commission to lift the data cap ban in May 2021 instead.
Disclosure: The Advance / Newhouse partnership, which owns 13 percent of the charter, is part of Advance Publications. Advance Publications owns Condé Nast, which owns Ars Technica.