Comcast is raising rates again … here’s how to save some money

It’s time for Comcast to improve its bottom line again: it’s raising rates. This is welcome news for Comcast shareholders, but likely not for you. For the Northampton area, you can see its new rate sheet effective December 20, 2021 to get an idea of how you will be affected.

You will likely find it baffling to read. We spent some time studying their rates and it is baffling, probably by design. If you are a Comcast subscriber, you are probably not buying an Internet-only service, whose rates you can find on the last page of the rate sheet. You likely have some variation of their double-play or triple-play services, where you add cable TV and/or telephone services. This gives you a “discount” on either their Internet-only rate or their Cable TV-only rates, depending on how you want to look at it.

Rest assured Comcast has you coming and going, so whichever plan you choose you’ll likely be paying more for it in 2022. To try to make sense of it, we compared their Internet-only plans with some municipal networks in the area and elsewhere around the United States. You can see this comparison on our FAQ page.

In general, Comcast’s approach seems to be upping the “up-to” download rates a bit on most of their plans while charging you more. Maybe this makes it a better value, in their opinion. Since an “up-to” rate is not a guarantee you will be able to download or upload at this rate, it’s likely pretty meaningless. Anyhow, we noted:

  • The Performance Starter plan is now up to 50Mbps download as was up to 25Mbps. But the price was raised from $54.95/month to $65/month.
  • The Performance Plan plan (up to 100 Mbps download) went from $77.95/month to $83.95/month
  • The Performance Pro plan (up to 200 Mbps download) went from $95.95/month to $98.95/month
  • The Blast! plan is now up to 400Mbps download as was up to 300Mbps and went from $100.95/month to $103.95/month
  • The Extreme Pro plan is now up to 800Mbps as was up to 600Mbps went from $105.95/month to $108.95/month
  • The Gigabit plan is now an up to 1.2Gbps as was 1Gbps, and went from $110.95/month to $113.95/month

How to save money

What can you do to save a few bucks until the City creates a municipal network and you can ditch Comcast’s internet services? Some of these suggestions are anecdotal, based on discussions we’ve read on Facebook’s Northampton group so they may not work.

  • Whine. Threaten to cancel your services and see if they offer you some discounts. The effectiveness of this approach seems to depend on how convincing you sound and how long you persevere. You might ask for their new subscriber rate if your one or 2 year introductory rate has lapsed. Of course, there is no real competition to Comcast so you are hardly in a great bargaining position.
  • Cancel and have your spouse/partner start a new subscription. This of course assumes you have a spouse or partner at the same address. This reportedly works quite well though there may be a brief interruption of service. Repeat every time your new subscriber rate lapses.
  • Buy a cable modem. There’s no reason to rent a cable modem from Comcast, particularly since Comcast charges a whopping $14/month to rent their cable modem. If you buy your own cable modem, it will usually pay for itself in six to 9 months. You need to buy a cable modem that is DOCSIS compliant for the maximum download and upload speed that you anticipate needing over the next few years. Many cable modems also have built in wireless routers. This is not necessary if you already own a wireless router, so you can save some money by buying the modem only. For most people, a DOCSIS 3.0 compliant modem is fine (maximum of 1Gbps download, 200Mbps upload), but you might want to spring for a DOCSIS 3.1 compliant modem (maximum 10Gbps download, 1-2Gbps upload). You can buy these modems online or at local retailers like Walmart and Staples. Note that a Northampton municipal network is likely to be fiber-to-the-home, so a different kind of modem will probably be needed when that time comes.
  • Get a subsidy. If you’ve been paying attention to the news, a law was recently enacted that provides likely temporary subsidies for qualifying households. You can read more about it here. Comcast of course loves this idea as they get to charge their normal usury rates and bill the government for most or all of it.
  • See if you qualify for Comcast’s Internet Essentials plan. You generally have to have Section 8 housing or your kid is getting subsidized meals at school to qualify for this $9.95/month plan, which could be covered by the subsidy, effectively giving you free (albeit slow) internet service.
  • Switch to another Internet Service Provider. This is generally not an option but if your needs are modest and you don’t mind having your phone as your only internet device, you could find a cheap 4GLTE plan from a wireless provider. Just don’t expect to stream Netflix on the device.
  • Hit the library. The Forbes and Lilly libraries offer computer terminals that are internet accessible, last we checked. Time is usually limited on these machines but it may be an option if you are a low-use internet user.

Here’s hoping in 2022 our City Council votes to create a municipal network and we won’t need to update you on Comcast’s usury rate increases a year from now.

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