Anyone that’s ever had the pleasure of a telephonic interaction with their unfriendly, corporate cable and broadband provider knows just how invested they are in upselling. Calling because your cable box stopped working for no discernable reason? Well, how would you like to add a landline while you wait. And wait. And wait. And wait.
The flip side of that upselling, of course, is hiding cheaper, unbundled options from consumers. Today, the Federal Communications Commission imposed an $800,000 fine on Comcast for failing to market its standalone broadband Internet service, reports PCWorld.
Last January, the FCC and the Department of Justice approved Comcast’s merger with NBCUniversal with a few stipulations. One of them held that Comcast had to continue to sell consumers a standalone broadband services “at reasonable prices and with sufficient bandwidth to those who do not subscribe to Comcast’s cable services,” says PCWorld. Comcast was forbidden from raising the price of standalone broadband for two years and had to actively market the option to consumers. It wasn’t until users complained that the FCC launched an investigation.
As part of the settlement, Comcast has to offer its 6Mbps at $49.95/month option for an extra year, until at least Feb, 2015. This standalone option is expected to save users millions.
In a statement, Senator Al Franken, a critic of the merger from the start, applauded the FCC’s settlement:
“Consumers should not be forced to sign up for cable or satellite television as a condition of receiving Internet access, and today’s announcement by the FCC is a huge win for consumers who have fewer and fewer options for obtaining affordable broadband service.”
For New Yorkers who think Time Warner Cable is any better, stay tuned for TWC’s newly-secured patent that prevents your DVR from skipping commercials.