Cable, Internet costs rising

Cox, AT&T increase to include some customers’ phone bills

“The rising cost of programming content is really the main reason for video (cable) price increases.” Sharon Bethea, Cox Communications spokeswoman

Cox Communications and AT&T customers in Louisiana will see increases in their cable or video, Internet and in some cases phone bills, with satellite television providers following the same pattern.

The Cox increase will be an average of less than $6 per month under the company’s new prices, depending on the services provided. The new rates, which went into effect on Jan. 15, were posted on Cox’s website Jan. 7 and were included in a special message on customers’ bills last month, spokeswoman Sharon Bethea said.

“The rising cost of programming content is really the main reason for video (cable) price increases,” Bethea said.

Cox, like other cable companies, negotiates with both national and local broadcasters, Bethea said. The bulk of the increase for video prices results from the national broadcasters.

AT&T is making “modest price adjustments” to its U-verse and high-speed Internet packages beginning Sunday because of increased business costs and increased costs for TV content, spokeswoman Sue Sperry said in an email. The content issue affects all TV providers, she said.

DirectTV announced rates would rise an average of 4.5 percent in February, with some regional sports network fees going up by $2 as well as prices for receiver/DVR equipment.

Dish Network will also raise rates, with many monthly programming packages rising $5 per month, according to Media Post. Both satellite services attributed the increases to higher costs for programming.

For Cox’s residential customers with video services only, the average increase will be less than $3 a month, she said. For Internet services only, the increase will be less than $3 — basically the result of the higher cost of doing business — while phone services will be 44 cents more.

The actual increase customers see will vary depending on the type of services and the mix of products ordered, Bethea said.

Sperry said AT&T is offsetting its price increases by adding value for U-verse customers that include several new features and new content on television, Uverse.com and U-verse smartphone and tablet apps.

The amount of the increase will depend on the TV package, Sperry said. Most customers will see monthly increases of $2 to $4, which includes a broadcast TV surcharge.

Internet customers will also see an increase of $3 to $5 per month, depending on the date they ordered U-verse services, Sperry said. The maximum increase a customer with both U-verse TV and Internet will see is approximately $9.

Sperry said any customers that have promotional offers or pricing will not be affected until their promotional period ends.

Bethea said Cox customers who subscribe to the most basic TV packages, such as Cox TV Starter and Cox TV Economy, will not see a rate increase.

Cox has also eliminated the $5.69 monthly Gateway fee for customers who wish to move over to digital cable.

In addition, Cox offers a senior citizen discount of 30 percent off basic cable services. Customers who are 60 or older and earn less than $24,000 can apply at their local Council on Aging.

Cox also offers discounts on telephone services through its Lifeline Low-Income Assistance Program, she said. Cox will mail a brochure, which contains an application for the services, to customers who request one.

Cox customers can reach customer service at (888) 215-8474 or check their bills for local customer service numbers.

AT&T customers can call customer service at (800) 288-2020.