DECATUR — Comcast Cable customers in Central Illinois may have noticed a slightly thicker cable bill this month than usual, owing to upcoming rate increases on most television and Internet packages.
Representatives of Comcast said the increases, most of which fall in the 4 percent to 6 percent range for each type of service, are the result of new features offered by the cable company over the year and the increased cost of doing business. The new prices will go into effect Jan. 1.
The rate increases are going into affect all across Comcast’s Greater Chicago Region, according to Jack Segal, vice president of public relations for the area. They apply to most Xfinity “Triple Play” bundle packages of television, phone and Internet, and to most individual TV/Internet service plans. Customers currently locked into promotional deals will not be affected by the rate increases.
“The company looks at the cost of business and goes from there,” Segal said. “For example, we have felt the impact of higher programming costs and operating costs for Xfinity TV. In the first half of 2011, we experienced a companywide increase of 6.7 percent in program costs.”
Segal also pointed to a variety of new features available in all of the company’s packages as a reason for the increase. The standard speed for the Xfinity Performance Internet package, for instance, increased from 12 MBps, or megabytes per second, to 15 MBps, with similar increases felt across the board.
“We added about 20 channels to most television packages, including things like the Military History Channel, Disney Jr. and ESPN Goal Line,” he said. “We’ve also greatly increased the services available through our Apple and Android apps, which have had downloads into the millions.”
Comcast currently offers two free apps for Internet-ready devices. Its “Xfinity Connect” service allows users to access their Comcast phone service through their devices and even send texts, independent of a regular wireless phone contract. The “Xfinity TV Player” app, on the other hand, allows access to Comcast television services on Internet devices. Overall, Segal argues that these services more than offset the rate increase.
“It’s a wholly different product than it was a year ago,” he said. “We think that cable remains one of the greatest values for peoples’ entertainment dollars.”