It looks like Comcast customers are in for another price hike, this time not on programming charges but on the fees they pay to rent our broadband modems. Several Comcast customers told Ars Technica that their home internet gateway fees have risen from $8 to $10. Those prices reflect the new rates Comcast began setting for its latest modems, which support its new Xfinity Wi-Fi Hotspot service.
The timing of the fee increase couldn’t be more apt, given Comcast is angling to buy up Time Warner Cable next year. It’s bad form to promise regulators that your merger will bring greater competition and more consumer options and then raise a significant billing fee by 25 percent. But Comcast also risks inflaming those regulators. While the Comcast-Time Warner deal was once seen as sure thing, my colleague Jeff John Roberts reports that the deal now may be on much thinner ice.
What’s most galling about this price hike, though, is that it’s being charged on newer equipment that Comcast is using to build its new residential public Wi-Fi network. Comcast is building a nationwide Wi-Fi network on the backs of its residential and business customers’ home gateways. Its new modem/routers create two Wi-Fi networks, a private network for the customer and a public network accessible to any other Comcast customer. Comcast is basically asking its customers to pay the cost of building that public network by charging them higher equipment fees.
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