Comcast increases triple-play packages $5 a month; special fees also to rise

Comcast Corp. has increased its popular triple-play packages $5 a month for 2018 but says Xfinity customers, on average, will see monthly bills go up only 2.2 percent as the cable giant faces greater threats from low-cost streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The prices changes were effective in the Philadelphia region, Wilmington and New Jersey in late December. Xfinity customers have been informed of price increases in their latest bills. Comcast enacted similar price increases across Pennsylvania.

Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Bilotta said in a statement that the prices were going up because customers were getting “more for their money.”

Most Xfinity customers won’t immediately see higher prices because they are under a contract or participating in promotions, the company says. But once Xfinity customers go off promotions and contracts they will be subject to the higher listed prices — $166.49 for the Preferred XF Triple Play Bundle compared with the previous $161.49, as one example. This is a 3.1 percent hike.

The Starter XF Triple Play Bundle rose to $153.49 a month from $148.49, or 3.4 percent higher. HD Complete XF Triple Play Bundle jumped to $251.49 a month from $246.49, a 2 percent boost. Prices may vary around the region. These are from a customer’s bill in the Jenkintown area.

As it has in the past, Comcast also boosted special fees for broadcast television channels to $7.50 a month from $7 and regional sports fees to $6.75 a month from $5 — a 35 percent jump. These fees are not mandated by any governmental or regulatory entity. They also are not part of promotions or contracts, so Xfinity customers will see these higher fees in their bills.

Comcast modem rental fees rose 10 percent to $11 a month, from $10. These rentals also are not part of a contract or promotions.

Hourly services charges for installations and service calls rose to $40 from $35.20 — a 13.6 percent higher. Comcast has been seeking to cut down on the number of services calls, or truck rolls, through self-installation kits and remote diagnostics from call centers.

DirecTV, Dish and Cox also have announced rate hikes for 2018, according to the tvanswerman.com, an online publication.

Comcast has warned Wall Street analysts that it faces threats from cord cutters, or those dropping cable-TV for streaming services. But it also is pricing its TV bundles to be competitive with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and others, which cost $10 to $30 a month. Its Internet Plus package of cable channels and broadband service is now $85.95 a month compared with last year’s $82.95. This comes with internet speeds of 25 megabits a second.

Meanwhile, Comcast’s internet-only service Performance Pro now costs $89.95 a month, up from $84.95. This offers speeds of 100 megabits a second. With Performance Pro, a customer would also have to buy a streaming service for entertainment, which would add to the bill.

“We continue to make significant investments in our network and technologies to give customers more for their money – like faster Internet service and better WiFi, more video across viewing screens, innovations like X1 and a better customer experience,” Comcast’s Bilotta said in a statement. She also said that entertainment companies are charging more for their networks and “we must pass along a portion of these higher costs to our customers. As a result, on average, nationally, the customer bill will increase by 2.2% in 2018.”

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