In Washington County, Oregon, one cable company is trying to put itself out of business. Oregon Live reports that Frontier Communications has raised its installation fees from $79 to $500 in the last month (Comcast charges $30) and is planning a 46 percent increase in cable TV prices, which are already high. The reason: it’s trying to get out of the cable business and move people toward its new partnership with DirecTV, a service that will make it more money than Cable. Unfortunately for Frontier, local regulators don’t plan to let it be a quitter.
In a report to the MACC commission, Policy & Regulatory Affairs Manager Fred Christ complains that Frontier isn’t being forthcoming with him even though it notified customers in several towns that it was “exercising its right to terminate the Franchise and all obligations under it,” but hasn’t provided a date or concrete information to subscribers. Worse, customers seeking to end their contract with Frontier after hearing this news are still subject to an early termination fee of $200.
For these reasons, MACC regulators are now taking sides and recommending Comcast over Frontier: “For new customers, MACC is recommending against initiating a new relationship with Frontier,” writes Christ. “The $500 installation fee is simply ridiculous and unjustified, particularly when weighed against free or typical $30 installations by Comcast and similar offers from satellite providers. Whatever the benefits of Frontier’s FiOS video, we do not believe the service is worth that initial investment. We urge new customers to contact Comcast first, since it provides a locally franchised service in many ways superior compared to satellite providers.”
Of course, Christ and Co. don’t have any actual authority to do much about the situation. His recommendation of Comcast is also suspicious since his commission receives its funding from cable and telephone fees companies pay into. If everybody switched to satellite TV and Internet telephone services, he could be out of a job.
Our word to the wise: if you’re living in Oregon, explore your options. You can find a lot of good TV on the Internet and Web these days using services like Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV, or ESPN on Xbox 360. But if you can’t do without a ton of live TV channels, steer clear of Frontier.