Comcast raised rates on Houston last week, much to AT&T's glee. Comcast took over the Houston systems in June as part of its market swaps with Time Warner Cable. AT&T launched its U-Verse IPTV service there late last year, making Houston its second launch site after San Antonio, Texas.
Comcast proceeded to add VoIP and develop its triple-play for the market. The rate hike averaging 6.1 percent generated a good 17 column inches worth of copy in the Houston Chronicle. Cable rate hikes always make news because: A) people generally hate their cable company; B) people generally can't live without TV; and C) rate hikes make Arizona Regulation Sen. John McCain rattle a regulation saber. (You don't read about rate hikes in Phoenix.)
AT&T will no doubt cram the market with ads for a while to poach rate-sensitive cable subscribers. A regional exec from the Bell was quoted saying the rate hike was good for AT&T. Houston is definitely a market to watch. About one-fourth of the TV households in the market rely exclusively on over-the-air reception. Cable, DBS and U-verse are fighting over the other 75 percent. This really is what Congress had in mind.