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A Tale of Two Homes in Spectrum Territory: What Competition Does to Pricing

Phillip Dampier May 26, 2021 Charter Spectrum, Competition, Consumer News 6 Comments

Competition is a wonderful thing. A case in point is the enormous difference Charter Spectrum charges new customers in areas where competition exists, and where it does not.

Charter’s offers are address sensitive. The cable company knows its competition and almost exactly where those competitors offer service. That is why the company asks for your service address before it quotes you pricing.

Stop the Cap! compared promotional new customer offers in the metro Rochester, N.Y. market where Spectrum faces token competition from Frontier’s slow speed DSL service. Then we checked pricing in neighborhoods where a fiber to the home overbuilder called Greenlight also offers service.

In neighborhoods where Spectrum enjoys a broadband monopoly, here are the offers for internet-only service available to new customers. Notice they expire after 12 months:

Spectrum promotional prices in non-competitive service areas.

Just one street away, where Greenlight offers customers the option of gigabit speed over a fiber to the home network, Spectrum’s promotional prices are quite different. Notice these offers last 24 months, twice as long as in non-competitive neighborhoods:

Spectrum promotional prices in some areas where customers can choose a competitor offering fiber to the home service.

Spectrum does not even bother offering new customers its entry-level 200 Mbps plan in areas where it has significant fiber competition. For $20 less per month, you get double that speed. Gigabit service is $20 less in competitive areas, too.

Spectrum charges a hefty $199.99 compulsory installation fee for gigabit service in non-competitive neighborhoods. Where fiber competition exists, sometimes just a street away, that installation fee plummets to just $49.99.

Note similar pricing variability exists in Spectrum service areas around the country, with the most aggressively priced offers reserved for addresses also served by a fiber to the home provider or multiple competitors (e.g. cable company, phone company, Google Fiber or other overbuilder). Current customers typically have to cancel existing service and sign up as a new customer to get these prices.

Greenlight Networks has four internet plans that range from $50-200 a month. They do not offer promotional prices, instead marketing “what you see is exactly what you will pay” pricing. As a relatively new company, they charge an installation fee that helps recoup the investments they are making to dig and string fiber cables in neighborhoods across Rochester (and Buffalo as well, where they are expanding). Spectrum (and its predecessors) use pre-existing cable lines that have been there for decades.

Greenlight Networks pricing

Charter’s promotion strategy is designed to undercut the competition on price, believing customers will choose 400/20 Mbps service for $29.99 a month over Greenlight’s 500/50 Mbps service for $50 a month. Of course, after two years Spectrum’s regular prices can kick in, more than tripling the cost to around $94.99 a month, although customers usually get a less attractive secondary promotion after the original one expires, usually offering around $10 off per month.

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11 months ago

It’s a free market. There is only one brand of grocery store within 10 miles of where I live. I am not forced to live there.

11 months ago
Reply to  Wutsinterweb

[“It’s a free market.”] =====> How’s that turd-flavoured kool-aid taste, ‘eh?

“Free market” ignores that PRE-EXISTING DOMINANCE muscles out competition using marketing, finance, power relationships and technical threats to eliminate competiton.

Right-wing propaganda works, ‘eh?

that’s wjhy righties vote to improve the lot of billionaires and their big-biz executive puppets.

11 months ago
Reply to  Wutsinterweb

I’m assuming this is just trolling because it’s difficult to believe that anyone could be so brain dead. This argument is basically: don’t be poor. I trust everyone is impressed that you’re financially capable of moving on a whim. Why hasn’t everyone in Flint just moved after the right wingers there poisoned their water to save a few bucks? I guess they’re just not as smart as you. The invisible hand of the free market sure spends a lot of its time masturbating.

10 months ago
Reply to  Wutsinterweb

Yeah, maybe it is a free market and your snarky answer is “don’t live there”

The problem is if you are a public official you know you have failed when your citizens’ answers are, “don’t live there”

I don’t live in Rochester anymore and every time I visit and get shi**y snail speed internet among other things I’m reminded of just how much of an economic wasteland the area is.

And it seems that others feel the same given that Upstate NY’s population is consistently shrinking year over year.

Ian M
Ian M
11 months ago

My city is getting city wide fiber optic internet from a regional overbuilder and we already have the Charter Spectrum competitive pricing before the overbuilder has even connected any homes to fiber service but that is coming by July 2021 and they hope to be finished with my city by March of 2022. I’m still leaving cable for fiber ASAP as Spectrum internet sucks. Anemic uploads followed by crappy practices like getting rid of prorating.

11 months ago

Yep – every two years I turn in my equipment, make up a new name and sign up as a “new customer”. I think this year my cat will be a Spectrum customer.
Also – Spectrum isn’t as smart as this seems. I am in Gates so Spectrum “thinks” there is Greenlight competition on my street, but they are YEARS away from building out my neighborhood. I will just continue to take advantage to Spectrums stupidity and keep signing up as a new customer using the names of people in my household.

Last edited 11 months ago by preed4962

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