Comcast Hikes Rates Despite ‘Broadband Plan’

Comcast’s plan to raise rates for its Internet service could have had better timing. The hike, set for April 1, per letters Comcast sent to its subscribers, come just as the Federal Communications Commission is about to release its National Broadband Plan on March 17.

As a run-up to the plan, the FCC and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation hosted Tuesday (March 9) a Digital Inclusion Summit in Washington, D.C., focused on the need to break down barriers to broadband adoption—with the goal of increasing broadband usage from 65 percent to 90 percent of Americans by 2020.

The irony of Comcast’s rate hike wasn’t lost on Free Press, which pounced on the FCC’s failure to inject more competition in the broadband market.

“Almost no one disagrees that the FCC’s proposals to increase broadband adoption are very important. But they must be paired with a strong competition policy to drive down constantly increasing prices or else they will struggle to succeed,” said Ben Scott, policy director for Free Press. “Nothing at today’s [March 9] FCC event on adoption drew an explicit connection between affordability, adoption and price competition.”

Comcast isn’t the only broadband giant to raise rates. According to the Free Press, other Internet service providers like AT&T have also raised rates.

“It’s clear the incumbents have no intention of lowering their prices and attracting more low-income users,” Scott said.

Comcast is in a deal to acquire 51 percent of NBC Universal, a deal that is getting a lot of attention from consumer groups and legislators.