Predator or prey? Charter cuts Internet prices to compete with city-owned network

Date: 13 Mar 2012 | posted in: Media Coverage, MuniNetworks | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Ars Technica, March 13, 2012

One of the benefits of living next to a municipal Internet Service Provider came into focus this month. Residents of Monticello, Minnesota found a hastily composed flyer in their mailboxes. The missive listed Charter Cable’s basic and digital tier offerings, with an extra enticement scribbled in hand on the right side of the page:  Fantastic OFFER! ONE TIME OPPORTUNITY includes Cable TV with all channels and a DVR! Plus THIRTY-MEG HIGH SPEED INTERNET! Both for only 59.95! Locked in price for 2 years! Please call A.S.A.P. to check for availability. Thank you.

A Monticellan who received this document several times faxed it over to The Institute for Local Self Reliance Community Broadband Networks blog, where they strongly support municipal broadband projects and don’t appreciate efforts to undermine them. Monticello has a beleaguered city-run fiber-to-the-home ISP, FiberNet, which offers 30Mbps and another service such as video for a little over $50 a month (before taxes and franchise fees).

“This is either predatory pricing or the cable industry is out of control with its rate increases,” CBN’s Christopher Mitchell protested. Mitchell checked the Charter rates over at various Minnesota sister cities, and identified comparable packages that are indeed much pricier. In the Rochester area, for example, a Charter deal with some hot movie and sports channels, a DVR, and 30Mbps runs for $144.98.

Read the full story here.