Comcast boosts prices again 'because they can': report

COMCAST BOOSTS CABLE RATES AGAIN: "A few days ago, Comcast announced they would be raising video prices in the San Francisco Bay area," writes analyst Craig Moffett of Bernstein Research in a report to clients today.

HOW MUCH: "The price hikes - averaging about 5% for expanded basic cable and about 3% overall - are the first of the year's annual price hike season. Other markets will presumably see similar sized increases...

INTERNET, TOO: "They also raised cable modem equipment prices by $2 per month, a clever way of hiking rates without relinquishing their right to claim that they have held the line on broadband service prices...

MONOPOLY: "Comcast is raising prices because they can, or at least because they believe they can. Presumably, they believe their customers can afford it... The cable operators are fortunate that," unlike Verizon and other wireless-phone companies, "there simply aren't alternatives out there that are half, or even one-third, the cost."

HALF OF AMERICA CAN'T PAY: Moffett isn't convinced consumers will keep paying Comcast more. He's also worried about Verizon and the phone companies, Dish Network and the bottom feeders, and any other mass-market telecom company, at a time when one of every six working-age Americans is either looking for work or has given up trying, and half of families have no disposable income to speak of.

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