Comcast rate hike coming Oct. 1

Company discloses its annual rate increase

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian Business Editor



Cable television provider Comcast will increase rates for Portland-Vancouver metro area residents on Oct. 1.

The cost of the most common cable services for Clark County customers will rise by $3.25 per month.

That 4.3 percent fee increase includes a hike of $2.25 to the basic services fee, which will rise to $3.75 per month. A digital adapter fee rises by $1 to $3.99 per month.

For those customers who subscribe to the company’s 140-channel Digital Starter package, those increases mean the rate, including the franchise fee local government charges to Comcast, will be $78.33 per month.

In addition, Comcast is raising a regional sports network fee paid by most subscribers by $1, to $2 per month.

The fees come at a time when new video-streaming services are bringing new competition to Comcast, with more cable shows now becoming available without a cable hookup. Locally, CenturyLink has launched its own cable service in Portland and is in the discussion stages of an expansion into Vancouver. Google Fiber appears ready to establish service in Portland and some suburban areas, but not Vancouver.

“It is surprising with the amount of competition Comcast is facing that they continue to raise rates,” said Jim Demmon, cable television manager for the City/County Cable Television office. “It will be interesting to see if the subscriber numbers hold.” If Century Link does offer high-speed service here, using its existing telephone infrastructure, “it would be exciting to have competition,” Demmon said.

The city and county have no legal authority to regulate rates.

The number of cable subscribers in Clark County has fluctuated in recent times. In December, the count was 63,859 subscribers, Demmon said. That was below the March 2013 count of 64,111 subscribers.

Comcast is also raising rates for its Internet services, which are not regulated by local government. The cost for its Performance Internet service will rise on Oct. 1 by $3 to 69.95. Comcast says it is increasing download speeds of its Internet services effective Oct. 20.

The price increases do not affect customers whose rates are guaranteed through introductory rates or other contract rates.

Comcast’s fee increases in recent years have fallen hardest, on a percentage basis, on customers who choose the lowest cost options. A report by the City County Cable Television office reported that the company’s Limited Basic Service, which includes local broadcast and local public, educational and government channels, currently has a monthly rate of $20.69. That rate is up by 18.6 percent since January 2013.

The company’s Digital Economy which includes more than 80 channels, costs 14.3 percent more than in January 2013. The Digital Starter package has gone up by 5 percent since 2013, without taking into account the upcoming Oct. 1 increase.