Comcast rate hikes spark talk of cable alternatives

If Comcast thought the July 4th weekend was a good time to quietly announce a rate hike for many of its franchise areas, it was wrong. First, the bad news: The hike did not go unnoticed. Second, the worse news: reports of the hike led to a flurry of suggestions about how to "eliminate or reduce your bill despite the best efforts of the cable giant," as Todd Bishop put it in a post for the Seattle Business Journal.

The average Comcast bill, for those who decide not to fight the rate increase, would go up between $1.26 and $1.95 per month in many Left Coast franchise areas, according to media reports from Sacramento. In Memphis, the rates are expected to climb by 1.4 percent.

"We continue to invest in next-generation technology and equipment to support new product features, more programming choices and improvements to customer services," said Trevor Yant, vice president and general manager of Comcast of Memphis. Remarkably, Andrew Johnson, Comcast's regional vice president in the Sacramento area said exactly the same thing.

Anyway, the word is getting out, leading folks like Bishop to outline ways to get around cable TV service such as using over-the-air digital reception and Xbox 360 and investigating Google TV where "the planned integration into Internet-enabled television sets and set-top boxes should make free online video more accessible, at least, in the living room."

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