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Comcast rates soar for non-TV Internet subscribers

Thursday, March 13, 2003

By Patricia Sabatini, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Roughly 6,000 subscribers to Comcast Corp.'s high-speed Internet service in the region are facing double-digit increases in their monthly bills starting in April unless they become Comcast cable TV subscribers.

Rates are going up 35 percent, from $42.95 to $57.95 a month, for customers who own their cable modems and 26 percent, from $45.95 to $57.95, for customers who rent their modems.

Rates stay the same for customers who agree to sign up for cable TV, or for customers who already subscribe to both services.

"What we're trying to do is entice customers to be multiple product customers with us," said Comcast's regional spokes-man, Brian Jeter.

Nearly two-thirds of the 6,000 customers are in Allegheny County.

The cheapest level of cable TV service Comcast offers includes roughly 20 channels and costs about $12 to $14 a month, depending on the community.

That basic service doesn't include some of the most popular cable channels, such as ESPN, CNN, MTV and The Discovery Channel.

The rate increases aren't sitting well with some Comcast customers, if e-mail to the Post-Gazette is any indication.

"They just lost a customer," said one.

Philadelphia-based Comcast became the region's dominant cable TV provider in November with the acquisition of AT&T Corp.'s AT&T Broadband unit.

Jeter said Internet customers could try the basic cable TV service for free for six months to make sure it's something they want.

"We're trying to offer multiple products to our customers and remain consistent with other Comcast markets," he said.

Patricia Sabatini can be reached at psabatini@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3066.

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