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Comcast preps higher rates, hidden fees for New Year's Day

Kicking off the new year with a bang, Comcast plans to boost prices for its pay-TV and broadband services on January 1, hiking both its standard monthly service rates and its "hidden" broadcast TV and regional sports network (RSN) fees that are not reflected in its advertised prices.

In a customer notice that has been shared on Reddit, first reported by Ars Technica and since confirmed by Comcast, the MSO said subscribers to its Xfinity-branded services across the nation will see their monthly bills rise on New Year's Day. The increases will vary by region, with subs in some areas seeing bigger hikes than others.

In the Chicago metro area, for instance, the monthly rate for Comcast's low-end Choice TV bundle will rise from $25 to $30, according to the notice posted on Reddit. Meanwhile broadband subscribers will see prices go up $3 per month across all six of the MSO's Internet tiers.

Besides raising its basic pay-TV and broadband rates, Comcast also plans to increase its broadcast TV and RSN fees. The broadcast TV fee, which the MSO doesn't include in the list price for Xfinity services, will rise as much as $4.50 a month in some areas, while the RSN fee will rise as much as $2 a month.

Comcast will also raise the monthly price for AMC+ by $2 a month on January 1. The new ad-free version of AMC launched earlier this year on Comcast cable systems and then expanded to other pay-TV providers and platforms, including Dish Network, Sling TV, Amazon, Apple and Roku.

Not surprisingly, Comcast defended the looming price hikes as needed to cover its ever-rising programming costs, especially for broadcast TV and sports content.

In a statement to Ars Technica, the company said: "Rising programming costs – most notably for broadcast TV and sports – continue to be the biggest factors driving price increases for all content distributors and their customers, not just Comcast."

"We're continuing to work hard to manage these costs for our customers while investing in our network to provide the best, most reliable broadband service in the country and the flexibility to choose our industry-leading video platform with X1 or the highest quality streaming product with Flex, the only free streaming TV device with voice remote that's included with broadband service."

The price increases come as Comcast also plans to impose a residential broadband data cap of 1.2TB per month in more than a dozen states next year. Under the revised policy, broadband customers who exceed this total will be charged $10 per 50GB, up to $100 in a month.

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— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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