Comcast announced on August 21, 2013 that it will raise programming prices in the Portland area, including the area regulated by the Metropolitan Area Communications Commission (MACC) beginning on October 1. In general, Comcast’s new increase ranges between $3.00 and $4.00 per month (a range of 4% to 4½%).
This is Comcast’s second rate increase of the year. In July, the company raised the rates of its least expensive tier of channels, Limited Basic, up to 10% in unregulated portions of the metro area.
At nearly the same time, Comcast (on July 23, 2013) filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission asking for relief from certain rate regulation because of “effective competition.” An effective competition designation will free Comcast from offering the Limited Basic tier as part of any other tier and, more impactful, clear the way for Comcast to raise the cost of the Limited Basic tier.
Local rate regulation would be eliminated if the FCC grants Comcast’s petition.
The cable television franchise that defines service for more than 100,000 customers in the Tualatin Valley is currently being negotiated by MACC and Comcast. MACC, the agency that works on behalf of Washington County and 14 cities in the area, is charged with negotiating a new agreement with the cable operator. The current franchise expires in January 2014.
Among the topics up for discussion are: customer service; service availability; Public, Education and Government channels and equipment; and, the 240-site Comcast network (the Public Communications Network – PCN). The PCN links public safety agencies, schools and other government agencies in the area. All of these topics, and others, will be discussed with subscribers’ and users’ needs and interests providing the basis for those decisions. While the cost of cable is always an area of concern, Federal Law prohibits MACC and cities from regulating cable service level costs.
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Comcast, Frontier and almost all telecommunications companies have marketing strategies that emphasize customers’ initial cost of service. But customers soon find out that their first bill is higher than they anticipated – and sometimes they get a big surprise six months or a year later.
Watch for three things when ordering new or upgraded services:
1. Equipment costs
2. The price for the same services after the introductory cost
3. Fees and taxes