Cable Prices Keep Going Up

Here’s what we fear about what could happen with cell phone carriers—home cable prices have risen 77 percent since 1996, which is about double the rate of inflation, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May.

A New York Times story said that cable customers, who typically pay at least $60 a month, watch only a fraction of what they pay for—on average, a mere 13 percent of the 118 channels available to them:

“The resiliency of cable is all the more remarkable because the Internet was supposed to change all things digital. Technology has led to more choices and lower prices for news and music as well as cell phone and landline minutes—not to mention computers, cameras, music players, and phones themselves.”

Compared with cable providers, cell phone carriers are more restrictive, since they dictate the exact handsets we’re allowed to use, and in many cases, the specific programs we’re allowed to run on our cell phones. At least when you sign up for cable, you don’t have to buy a computer from an approved list of outdated Dell machines, or promise to only use Internet Explorer and only play games from Electronic Arts. That’s essentially what happens when you sign up for a cell phone in the U.S. Without new consumer protection laws, the carriers could jack prices up further too.