No one wants to pay for both cable and internet anymore. What’s more, no one, and I mean absolutely no one, wants to pay separate rental fees to put four cable TV boxes in their family’s home. What year is this? For cord-cutters who subscribe to Comcast, it’s apparently time to get screwed.
While I’ve never personally paid for cable in my entire life, even my 84-year-old grandmother now has a Roku. Right now, she’s likely watching the same reruns of her favorite 50s TV westerns using the streaming service Sling. She’s also started to develop a taste for Netflix. (God help her.) The point is, she’s paying $100 less every month for the same entertainment experience—only with way fewer commercials.
She’s way happier, particularly when she takes out her physical checkbook, envelopes, and stamps to pay her bills each month. One battle at a time.
Cable companies have always hated me: the millennial who can’t even be classified as a “cord-cutter” because I can’t stand television. Unless we’re counting my bar tabs during Texas Rangers games (don’t start), I can’t say I’ve ever paid a dime to watch it. But now big cable hates my grandmother, too. After decades of loyal patronage, she’s betrayed them. It hurts. And now they’re out to make her pay.
Comcast, which consistently tops the list of the most-hated companies in America, thanks in part to its proclivity for gouging its customers—apparently has a plan to strike back at cord cutters; namely, by only upgrading internet speeds for people still dishing out their hard earned money for cable.
Comcast was hailed recently for its plan to increase internet speeds in Houston, as well as some Washington and Oregon areas, boosting 60Mbps subscribers to 150Mbps; 150Mbps to 250Mbps; and 250MBps to 400Mbps up to 1Gbps. Admittedly, those are some awesome bumps in speed. It’s too bad everyone can’t enjoy it.
As The Houston Chronicle reported, “cord cutters are not invited to the party.”
Comcast, which also uses data caps to overcharge customers who prefer Netflix and Hulu to 15 minutes worth of commercials every hour, is starting to feel the pain of television’s slow but certain death. Its latest quarterly earnings results revealed another 96,000 customers had jumped ship, according to Ars Technica, adding to the 151,000 it lost last year.
The only way to avoid the data cap is to pay Comcast an additional $50 per month.
Comcast isn’t alone. Ars reported in 2016 that AT&T was likewise offering up unlimited data to customers willing to continue paying for cable. Those who wouldn’t—people who often exceeded their data limits by streaming online video instead—were charged anywhere from $10 to $100 a month overage fees.
The writing is on the wall. Cable television will eventually go the way of the VHS and Necco Wafers. The only question is how much money can Comcast milk out of its palliative patient before everyone’s grandmother declares “fuck this.”
Update, 5/2: A Comcast spokesperson sent Gizmodo the following statement:
“This year alone, we have boosted speeds for Internet-only customers and customers in packages in more than two dozen different states across the country which added at least 50 Mbps more speed for these customers. In a few of our markets, we are also testing different multi-product packages by changing the Internet tiers for various packages we offer. Importantly, all of our internet tiers can be purchased as a stand-alone service by ANY Xfinity customer. We continue to deliver the fastest speeds to the most homes in the country – in fact, 75% of our customers now have speeds of 100 Mbps or higher and Gigabit service is now available to more than 90 percent of our service area, including Internet-only customers.”