Relief for high cable bills
Who doesn't think their Internet and cable bills are too high? For years, I've been tracking the stories asking why we seem to be perennial sufferers of a certain chronic syndrome: Bills too high, Internet speed too slow.
There are quite a few studies that show the United States has the slowest Internet speeds in the developed world — and the highest bills. The divergence is amazing. Compared to France, the United Kingdom and South Korea, we have speeds four times as slow, and we pay three or four times as much.
Is this comparison fair? One thing to remember — the United States is a very big country with a lot of ground to cover. We live spread out, and I can see how that might drive up costs. (That's not an excuse in big cities, though.)
This topic springs to mind from two news items, one you might have heard about — and one you might not have. The big news: Comcast is taking over Time Warner Cable, establishing by far the country's largest cable and Internet provider. The company is amassing an army of lobbyists in D.C. to get the deal past federal regulators.
The smaller news: recent legislative moves on the state level. Legislators in Utah and Kansas have put forward bills that would make it difficult for cities to run their own broadband networks. These prohibitions are much favored by big cable operators; there are already more than a dozen states that have such restrictions.
What unites these two stories is this: The real problem with the quality of our Internet services is that too many cities have already given Internet providers monopoly access — and make it extremely difficult for competitors to come in and lay cable to compete. Satellite is arguably a better service than cable (it's growing, even as cable use is falling), but satellite providers can't provide bundled Internet. And the one Internet service on the ground that can compete with cable is generally a variant of DSL — but that has inferior speeds to cable.
The result is what generally happens when private companies have a monopoly and consumers have nowhere else to go: high prices and poor customer service. That's why so many cable customers give their local cable companies low marks.
When cities establish their own municipal Internet networks, prices from the commercial outfits come down — as they would when faced with any other competition. The higher speeds and cheaper prices attract business. One Tennessee businessman found service “eight or 10 times cheaper” in Chattanooga since that city began a strong municipal Internet network.
One thing we can do now, however, is figure out ways to keep our cable and Internet bills as low as possible.
If you get your cable and Internet through a sole local provider, call and threaten to switch to a satellite provider. If there are two Internet providers in your hometown, call your provider and threaten to switch. Get their best deal. Then, call the other provider and tell them to better it. Some consumers have found that alone can bring some relief.
Email Kim Komando at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Comeau’s hat trick leads Penguins; Crosby reaches career points
- Steelers’ backups Archer, Harris ready to run
- Pitt plays best game of the season; routs Kansas State
- Fatal crash closes Flight 93 chapel in Somerset County
- Pregnant woman struck by van in North Side dies; doctors save baby
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger says Saints game is ‘must win’
- Starkey: Rutherford will add when timing’s right
- Pirates notebook: Autographs to come at a cost at PirateFest
- PIT wants non-passengers allowed past security to shop
- Police on hunt for suspects in unrelated Penn Township, Manor cases
- Penguins notebook: Bennett to miss about 2 weeks