Cable and Internet bundling: It’s Comcastic!

Comcast  announced it believes it’s stemming the tide in cable-cutters today, saying it lost its fewest customers in the past 5 years. In the company’s mind, it’s clearly winning the battle against people ditching its cable service.

What Comcast fails to mention though, is that through a combination of bundling and its stranglehold on the market, it’s been able to fudge its numbers.

Take for instance my own Internet plan. The plan I’m on offers me Internet access, as well as a small selection of cable channels. While I was interested solely in Internet, a Comcast rep offered me a better deal if I added that small cable selection. That group of channels is pretty much what I’d get with an OTA antenna, along with a bunch of public-access channels and some of Comcast’s On-Demand selection.

The Comcast story jogged my memory, and I remembered it was almost the end of the 6-month period. I called up Comcast today to try and get rid of that pesky cable since it wasn’t worth the price increase.

Thanks to the deal, what I would pay for just the Internet connection alone would almost double without cable. That $40 a month for my Internet/cable would shoot up to almost $75. While I was discussing options for downgrading my connection, I noticed the Comcast terms mentioned a price range that started at $52.95, depending on certain factors.

Those factors? If I kept my cable subscription, I would be paying roughly $60 for the combo of cable and Internet.

That’s right, I would get the two services for less than the one service. How on Earth could I possibly pass up that kind of deal?

This is the kind of logic that’s allowed to exist in Comcast’s world. It and other cable providers are a government-protected monopoly. This means it’s free from the constraints AT&T and other providers who rely on phone lines have—that silly thing called allowing competitors to access transmission lines.

I’m currently weighing my options. As a result of its monopoly, Comcast is really the only option for a high-speed provider. The best I can do outside of them is AT&T’s 3-megabit connection. That pales in comparison to the 10-times as fast connection I’m getting now.

Because of the lack of options, Comcast can get away with fudging its numbers by offering ridiculous prices and claim it’s not losing any customers to its shareholders. But I wonder how many other customers out there are like me and only have the service because it’s the only thing keeping their bills from skyrocketing.

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