Comcast to hike its cable rates Oct. 1

Digital Starter plan's cost to climb nearly 2.3%; other packages, Xfinity services will also increase

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian Business Editor

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Comcast will again increase its rates for most of its cable packages offered in Clark County, effective Oct. 1, the cable giant said in a notice to the City-County Cable Television Office on Wednesday.

The company’s popular Digital Starter will increase to $67.49, from the current price of $65.99, a 2.28 percent increase. With the addition of a 5.79 percent franchise fee that pays for local access cable programming and local government services, the new price will be $71.40, said Jim Demmon, the cable office’s Cable Television Manager.

The increase at least was a smaller bite than last year’s. In November 2011, Comcast increased the Digital Starter package by 4.76 percent.

Other prices rise across the board. Excluding the franchise fee, Comcast’s Digital Economy service rises by $5 to $35. Its Digital Premier service, the most costly of its stand-alone cable television offerings, rises from $137.99 to $139.99, plus the franchise fee.

“We are concerned about the timing of the rate increase, given the current economic climate,” Demmon said in an email to local government officials. “However, this is a business decision by Comcast over which neither local nor federal government has any regulatory authority.”

Comcast’s least expensive service, called Limited Basic, remains unchanged at $16.50. However, that price went up by 9.49 percent in July.

Comcast also increased the cost of a range of services and fees, as well as its Xfinity Internet and “Triple Play” packages. Its so-called Performance Internet service will cost $51.95, and Blast! Internet service will be $61.95 per month. Both are $3 monthly increases.

The “Triple Play” packages that combine phone, Internet, and cable service will increase by $5 per month. New prices will range from $89.95 to $244.95 per month.

Prices will not increase on promotional packages during the promotional period, Comcast said.

The city-county cable television office is continuing its negotiations on an extension to Comcast’s franchise agreement for Vancouver and Clark County. The current agreement expires at the end of this year. Franchise agreements do not address the costs Comcast charges for its services, since local governments have no authority to regulate rates.