Comcast DTV Changes (Let the gouging begin)

TonyT

DTVUSA Member
#1
These changes affect Comcast subscribers with Comcast Basic (Extended) packages, which is from this article.

"This is different than the federal transition," Comcast spokesman Walter Neary said.
Translated: We're making changes for profitability.

If you subscribe to Comcast cable, you don't have to do anything about getting digital broadcast stations, but you might have to make a few changes to get all of your cable channels between 30 and 74 on all of your televisions.
"Might"

Neary said most Comcast customers already have set-top boxes for their main televisions, so the primary impact will be for extra televisions in people's homes.
OK, is this right? The bulk of Comcast customers are not basic cable subscribers? I love that sentence because it's tough to prove.

The company is switching from analog signals to digital to open more bandwidth so that it can offer more high-definition and digital channels, as well as faster Internet speeds, Neary said. People will also receive more digital channels.
Ah Hah, The cat's out of the bag. They're removing a bunch of analog programming from their basic cable service forcing customers to rent set top boxes.

Neary said most Comcast customers already have set-top boxes for their main televisions, so the primary impact will be for extra televisions in people's homes.
In other words, rent more set top boxes from Comcast!

and now for the most confusing part of the article

Comcast is rolling out an effort to get digital boxes — up to three free per household with expanded basic cable and two digital adapters free for people who have a main television already connected to a digital box. Additional adapters are $1.99 per month, according to Comcast. The digital adapters also require the use of a Comcast remote control.
So does this mean, if one of your TVs has a set top box, you can rent adapters for $1.99/month for each additional TV? Or at the beginning of the sentence, does it mean that Comcast is making a effort to give out thread digital set top boxes free per household?
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#2
These changes affect Comcast subscribers with Comcast Basic (Extended) packages
In specific areas, at this time. The plan is to upgrade services available all over the country, eventually, but for now, many of us need to wait.

Translated: We're making changes for profitability.
Companies always work to fulfill their fiduciary responsibility to their owners, but this specific change is also for subscribers... If you must have someone to blame, blame ME because I want Travel Channel in HD, and I want DOCSIS 3.0, and the only way for companies to offer more channels in HD and super-fast Internet is by getting rid of the analog service (which, incidentally, satellite companies and alternative providers like FiOS and U-Verse don't provide now -- that's really the most indefensible aspect of the criticisms of the cable companies doing this: The competitors already operate this way... why aren't people condemning the companies that have never provided analog in-the-clear?)

OK, is this right? The bulk of Comcast customers are not basic cable subscribers? I love that sentence because it's tough to prove.
Actually it is very easy to prove because all cable companies have to provide disclosures regarding box rentals to the FCC.

As it is, this does not affect basic cable at all. At least with Comcast, basic cable will not be changed (at least until 2012). This will only affect expanded basic cable.

Ah Hah, The cat's out of the bag. They're removing a bunch of analog programming from their basic cable service forcing customers to rent set top boxes.
They are making room for new services that I want. I'm willing to pay them more for what I want than you are willing to pay them for analog expanded basic. I win. Wanna make something of it? :)

In other words, rent more set top boxes from Comcast!
Actually that is not the only option. You can come into the 21st century and buy a CableCARD-capable host devices (televisions and DVRs), and then you won't need set top boxes. If you insist on using antiquated equipment, then you have to pay the price... and (and this is again the most important part) you already have to do this with all the other companies.

and now for the most confusing part of the article
If you have a digital package, you are entitled to 1 STB + 2 DTA, included in your fee.
If you don't have a digital package, you are entitled to 3 DTA, included in your fee.

I have to mention this a third time: Comcast is simply making their service more like their competitors' and they are doing so because many of us, their customers, want them to offer us different services from the services that you perhaps want them to offer.
 

Orrymain

, Blogger: Orry's Orations
#3
I'm gonna take slight issue with the response, sort of. Comcast has been working on HD for two years at the cost of providing good ongoing to service to anyone without HD or digital. For years now, their rationale for a) not adding new channels and b) eliminating many channels has been that they need the bandwidth for HD. As a non-HD user, I have been incensed about this for at least two years now. No new channels and losing many, all because they need bandwidth for the HD brigade. What about me? What about the others with basic digital? They are catering to one part of the market and have been for a long time. Comcast made a conscious decision over two years ago to drive their customers to digital and now to HD. They have consistently been removing basic free channels and upping them to higher levels of their digital packaging. You either upgrade, or you cancel. Manipulation? You betcha!
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#4
I'm gonna take slight issue with the response, sort of. Comcast has been working on HD for two years at the cost of providing good ongoing to service to anyone without HD or digital.
Hmm.... so far I don't see any issue. That's exactly what they've been doing -- much more slowly than their direct competitors have been.

What about me? What about the others with basic digital? They are catering to one part of the market and have been for a long time.
Again, no issue. They are catering to the sector of the market that offers them the greatest reward in return.

If I'm selling my house, and six buyers make me an offer, I'm not going to take the first one; I'm generally going to take the offer that offers me the most money.

Comcast made a conscious decision over two years ago to drive their customers to digital and now to HD.
Again, let me re-emphasize that Comcast is doing this more slowly than all of their direct competitors. So while what you're saying is true, and will lead to a problem for you, all the other companies have already (figuratively) dropped you in the trash. Doesn't that make Comcast the best from your standpoint? Instead of condemning them (as I should, because they're putting your needs ahead of mine by going down this path so slowly compared to their competitors), shouldn't you be condemning their competitors far more so than you're condemning them?

They have consistently been removing basic free channels and upping them to higher levels of their digital packaging. You either upgrade, or you cancel. Manipulation? You betcha!
This is actually untrue. The have both moved channels to higher levels of service, and they have moved channels to lower levels of service. They have consistently moved channels from analog to digital (for the reasons mentioned above -- and still much more solely than all of their competitors have), but just this week we received notification of four or five channels being moved from Digital Classic down to Digital Starter, and a few more channels moved from Digital Starter to the special "Expanded Basic with Digital STB" service (no longer offered to new customers, but still patronized by existing customers who have had that service level for a while).
 

TonyT

DTVUSA Member
#5
They are making room for new services that I want. I'm willing to pay them more for what I want than you are willing to pay them for analog expanded basic. I win. Wanna make something of it? :)
hah, Yes because it's not what I want.

If you have a digital package, you are entitled to 1 STB + 2 DTA, included in your fee.
If you don't have a digital package, you are entitled to 3 DTA, included in your fee.
Thanks for answering that, but I'm a bit confused by what a DTA is. I thought that was a Digital To Analog box?

If I'm selling my house, and six buyers make me an offer, I'm not going to take the first one; I'm generally going to take the offer that offers me the most money.
Just wanted to respond a couple of your statements to Orry. That would be a fair analogy if there were as many sellers of homes as there are buyers.
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#6
hah, Yes because it's not what I want.
Hehe... y'know we joke, but this is really what it comes down to: You want X; I want Y; the system doesn't have capacity for X+Y; so in deciding X | Y, the computation is:

f(X) > f(Y) ? X : Y​

Thanks for answering that, but I'm a bit confused by what a DTA is. I thought that was a Digital To Analog box?
Specifically, a QAM to analog box.

Just wanted to respond a couple of your statements to Orry. That would be a fair analogy if there were as many sellers of homes as there are buyers.
No that's not necessary for the analogy to be fair. There are not as many suppliers of subscription television service as there are subscribers.

Besides, the analogy is not really necessary to see the inherent logic: See the math I posted, above. :)
 

Orrymain

, Blogger: Orry's Orations
#7
The quoting thing is giving me headaches, so I'm gonna do it this way.

On the Comcast is doing it slower and others have already dumped me, etc, nope, not here. Cable competitors are offering a lot of the new channels that I think Comcast should be carrying that they aren't. Comcast continues to focus just on HD here, while their competitors are doing that, too, but with more channels than Comcast.

And we don't even have the Digital Starter package option. It's no longer available here and hasn't been for quite some time. In fact, the lower two tiers of Comcast's packages, the starter and ... oops, can't recall the name this second ... but both have gone away. They are very focused in this market on HD and the superior packages. Unless you go to the absolute basic with no hint of premium, they aren't offering them. Now, this may be a regional issue because I do know that areas in other parts of the state have many more channels than we do and in fact, they had channels like Hallmark, Oxygen, Soapnet, et.al. for one to two years before we got them. So again, I say that in my neck of the woods, it's a losing proposition with the channels. I've checked on this a lot and have actually spoken with several of the higher ups in our region. It's all about HD. They really don't care about the little guy anymore.
 

Orrymain

, Blogger: Orry's Orations
#8
Hey Tony -- I didn't make the house analogy. I'm the victim, so I'm not justifying anything that Comcast is doing. I think they've been doing unfair business practices for years, ever since they came back to this area (they were here years ago, sold out, then bought it back - it was much better with the old guys)


Quote:
If I'm selling my house, and six buyers make me an offer, I'm not going to take the first one; I'm generally going to take the offer that offers me the most money.

Just wanted to respond a couple of your statements to Orry. That would be a fair analogy if there were as many sellers of homes as there are buyers.
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#9
On the Comcast is doing it slower and others have already dumped me, etc, nope, not here.
Sorry, but you're mistaken. AFAIK, all of Comcast's direct competitors already require what the OP is complaining about. All of them.

Which one of Comcast's direct competitors do you think allows you to receive cable networks in-the-clear without a box? I'll find and post evidence that that is not the case, for you.

Cable competitors are offering a lot of the new channels that I think Comcast should be carrying that they aren't.
We're having a discussion about this on a Verizon forum this week, amazed at the utter crap that Verizon added this week, especially given that Verizon still doesn't offer AMC HD, while Comcast does.

However, that's not even the point. Comcast is clearing off bandwidth so that it can offer new channels. In my area, they offer about 40 HD channels. In Detroit, where they've already completed the OP is complaining about, they just announced that they're adding the next group of channels, bringing their total to 104 HD channels. So this change that we're talking about effectively will add 64 channels.

The whole point is that you cannot have both: You cannot have the analog in the clear and all 104 HD channels and DOCSIS 3.0. It is one or the other.

And we don't even have the Digital Starter package option. It's no longer available here and hasn't been for quite some time.
Comcast recently discontinued an analog service, not Digital Starter. Digital Starter includes HD channels.

It's all about HD. They really don't care about the little guy anymore.
No one cares about the little guy. No one.

Again:

f(X) > f(Y) ? X : Y​

The "little guy" means little profits, and investors rapaciously punish companies that provide little profits instead of big profits.
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#10
If you choose to see yourself as a victim, then you are one, but it is something you're doing to yourself.

I think they've been doing unfair business practices for years
Operating their business in the best interests of their owners is not an "unfair" business practice. It is actually the only responsible way to operate a business.

It is one thing to say you're unhappy with the products and services you're offered. You are always entitled to be unhappy. It is irresponsible and indefensible to throw around legal terms like "unfair business practices" when all that is happening is that you're dissatisfied. You can just say you're dissatisfied, that you're unhappy. You don't need to try to make your dissatisfaction sound more important than it really is. What you're doing here misleads readers. They wonder if perhaps what you expect is actually what you were promised, when it was not. I'm sure it is great fun taking cheap pot-shots at big companies, or at the government (as some do in the the transition threads and the CECB threads), or at any big institution that frustrates you, but such unfounded attacks do nothing constructive. They just set readers on a never-ending death spiral of dissatisfaction, because it sets them up with a misunderstanding of the reality, crafted not by intelligence but rather by frustration.
 
#11
It is one thing to say you're unhappy with the products and services you're offered. You are always entitled to be unhappy. It is irresponsible and indefensible to throw around legal terms like "unfair business practices" when all that is happening is that you're dissatisfied. You can just say you're dissatisfied, that you're unhappy. You don't need to try to make your dissatisfaction sound more important than it really is. What you're doing here misleads readers. They wonder if perhaps what you expect is actually what you were promised, when it was not. I'm sure it is great fun taking cheap pot-shots at big companies, or at the government (as some do in the the transition threads and the CECB threads), or at any big institution that frustrates you, but such unfounded attacks do nothing constructive. They just set readers on a never-ending death spiral of dissatisfaction, because it sets them up with a misunderstanding of the reality, crafted not by intelligence but rather by frustration.
Not being happy in this case is fixed as easily as canceling service.
 

TonyT

DTVUSA Member
#13
Hey Tony -- I didn't make the house analogy. I'm the victim, so I'm not justifying anything that Comcast is doing. I think they've been doing unfair business practices for years, ever since they came back to this area (they were here years ago, sold out, then bought it back - it was much better with the old guys)
Oh I know, it was just a response to Bickers post. Sorry for the confusion.

Hehe... y'know we joke, but this is really what it comes down to: You want X; I want Y; the system doesn't have capacity for X+Y; so in deciding X | Y, the computation is:

f(X) > f(Y) ? X : Y
Isn't ? actually = but I guess that wouldn't make sense?? That's why I majored in communications. :)
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#14
There is some technical term for the notation, but it basically goes:

{condition} ? {then expression} : {else expression}

It is equivalent to:

if ({condition})
then {then expression};
else {else expression};
 

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#15
Lurker Lee posted an article in the dtv news section today, but it had a interesting quote from a Comcast spokesman,

While making the switch to cable can avert worries about new TVs and converter boxes altogether, providers apparently have not reaped much benefit from the looming transition.

Frances Smith, director of government affairs for Comcast, which dominates the Monroe market, said the company has "really not seen any reaction at all" to the transition.

Smith said sales have not increased despite the company buying additional advertising highlighting low-cost basic cable plans.
Then from a story on May 30, here,
"We have seen more of a slowdown in digital [cable systems] than other areas," Britt says. "That's not surprising." Higher-priced digital cable TV packages are being cut by consumers more than cheaper services. "We have also seen the growth of DVR slowing down."
Now direct your attention to a story on May 27 here,

S&P Raises Outlook on Comcast to Positive

The company posted a better-than-expected 5.5% increase in its first-quarter earnings last month, demonstrating continued resilience even as the company wrestles with slowing subscriber growth.
So less customers and higher profit? However are they doing it? Bicker, do you have a formula for that? :)
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#16
Absolutely, and you've seen about a dozen messages posted in the last week that show the path, some in this thread: They are trading off lower profit analog customers for higher profit digital customers. In the first reply in this thread, I wrote:
Companies always work to fulfill their fiduciary responsibility to their owners, but this specific change is also for subscribers... If you must have someone to blame, blame ME because I want Travel Channel in HD, and I want DOCSIS 3.0, and the only way for companies to offer more channels in HD and super-fast Internet is by getting rid of the analog service (which, incidentally, satellite companies and alternative providers like FiOS and U-Verse don't provide now -- that's really the most indefensible aspect of the criticisms of the cable companies doing this: The competitors already operate this way... why aren't people condemning the companies that have never provided analog in-the-clear?)
And then, more succinctly:
They are making room for new services that I want. I'm willing to pay them more for what I want than you are willing to pay them for analog expanded basic. I win. Wanna make something of it? :)
So the formula for service providers is to reallocate their limited bandwidth to better serve customers who contribute more to the bottom line.
 
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CptlA

DTVUSA Member
#17
Ah Hah, The cat's out of the bag. They're removing a bunch of analog programming from their basic cable service forcing customers to rent set top boxes.
Found this article talking about basic cable service their "Rapid" subscription plans due to the Digital Transition:

Comcast Looks To Get 'Rapid' Subs From Digital TV Transition
Operator Touts Installation for Consumers as 'Fast Last-Minute Solution'
Todd Spangler -- Multichannel News, 6/1/2009 2:45:04 PM MT
Comcast is aiming to pick up new subscribers from the June 12 broadcast transition to all-digital TV, launching a nationwide "rapid-response" installation initiative promising to connect cable TV service for consumers within 48 hours.

The cable company is offering basic cable for $10 per month for one year, or free basic cable for 12 months for new customers who sign up for at least one additional Comcast service.
$10/month for a year subscription is pretty cheap but wouldn't it be bad if they remove almost all programming from basic cable after signing up a lot of new customers. hehe
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#18
Basic cable is generally only the local broadcast channels, and they are not permitted to move any of them off of the basic tier, so that's not going to be an issue.
 

CptlA

DTVUSA Member
#19
Basic cable is generally only the local broadcast channels, and they are not permitted to move any of them off of the basic tier, so that's not going to be an issue.
THere isn't 1 channel offered on basic cable that isn't available OTA? Why would anyone ever subscribe for $120 a year? :confused:
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#20
I wouldn't say that there isn't ever 1 channel beyond OTA, but typically when there is it is just a small gift. Here, basic cable are the broadcast local channels, the public access channels, and I think Style. That's it. And Style isn't promised as as part of the basic cable tier. They just turn it on for those who find it, but they can take it away any time they want because they say that expanded basic is required to receive it.

Why would anyone subscribe to cable for basic cable at $120 per year? Typically it is because they cannot get satisfactory reception from an antenna.
 
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