Comcast said Friday that it will raise the price of cable TV and Internet service for most of its 2.3 million customers in Northern California, who will see an average increase of 3.8 percent in their bills next month.
The giant communications service provider said the cost of most of its cable television packages will rise, effective Aug. 1 in San Jose and other parts of Santa Clara County. The company also will raise broadband Internet rates for the first time in five years in most cases by $2 a month.
Comcast said the increases are necessary because of rising costs and investments in new technology and other improvements. Spokesman Andrew Johnson said the company has made Internet service faster in recent years without raising rates.
As with a previous round of rate hikes, last October, customers who get the lowest-end "limited basic service" will face one of the highest percentage increases. San Jose customers who take that service, which primarily provides local broadcast channels, will see their rate go up about 9.5 percent, to $17.13 a month.
But in a bid to entice customers to try its digital TV service, Comcast is slashing the cost of an entry-level plan known as "digital economy (TV only)." That rate will drop $10, from $39.95 to $29.95 a month in San Jose.
Rates for most other plans will increase by varying amounts. "Expanded basic" service will go up 3.3 percent, to $47.86 in San Jose, for example, while the "digital premier" plan will increase 3 percent, to $69.
Similar changes will occur in other cities. Johnson said cable rates vary slightly because of historic differences in services, such as local public access channels, that Comcast or its predecessors negotiated to provide in different communities.
The fee for "limited basic service" is the only rate subject to government regulation, according to Johnson, who said the latest hike is less than the maximum allowed by federal rules. Johnson, who said the increase is needed to cover Comcast’s costs, estimated that 10 to 11 percent of customers take the service.
Consumer advocates have criticized the company for raising the basic rate by a higher percentage than other plans. "For most people, cable is the way they get their television," said John M. Simpson of the nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog. "They ought to have some responsibility to make that basic service as affordable as possible."
Comcast said the increases won’t affect special promotional rates, which 40 to 50 percent of its customers are currently paying for certain services.
Contact Brandon Bailey at 408-920-5022, bba[email protected], or follow him at Twitter.com/BrandonBailey
New Comcast Rates:
Limited Basic Service will rise from $15.65 to $17.13 a month.
Digital Economy (TV only) will drop from $39.95 to $29.95 a month.
Digital Premier will rise from $66.95 to $69 a month.
Movie channels will go up from $18.99 to $19.99 a month.
Economy Internet (without TV or voice) will increase from $38.95 to $40.95.
Rates for other services are also changing, effective Aug. 1. Rates listed are for San Jose, may vary slightly in other areas.