Welcome to Comcast Country, Time Warner Cable customers. The Albany Times Union reports that New York state regulators now “believe some Time Warner Cable customers could see their Internet and cable TV bills more than double under the company’s proposed $45 billion merger with Comcast.”
In particular the regulators fear that Comcast will waste no time jettisoning TWC’s super-cheap $14.99 monthly Internet plan in favor of one that could cost at least twice that much. The Times Union notes that Comcast’s cheapest Internet service package costs $39.99 per month and only offers “slightly” faster download speeds.
In response to the regulators’ concerns, both Comcast and TWC issued a filing last month that said “fears of rapid or unreasonable rate hikes are… simply unfounded” because Comcast might find that TWC faces “significant competition” in markets where it offers the $14.99 monthly package.
Of course, it’s not as though fears of Comcast jacking up prices are unfounded. Recall that earlier this year, Comcast’s own David Cohen said that “we’re certainly not promising that customer bills are going to go down or even increase less rapidly” in the wake of the merger with TWC.
And a study released by the FCC last spring found that cable bills have been rising at roughly triple the rate of inflation in recent years. Usually, when industries can get away with jacking up bills more than three times faster than the CPI, it’s an indication that they don’t face the kind of “significant competition” that Comcast allegedly fears.