Increase coming soon in cable TV, phone bill rates

By CHRIS JACKETT
Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – Residents will notice a small change in their cable television and telephone bills on Sept. 1 if they are subscribers to the city’s nonprofit service provider.

Wyandotte Cable, operated by the Department of Municipal Services, soon will increase its rates for the first time in two years.

“We do a cost-of-service study,” said Melanie McCoy, general manager for Municipal Services. “The last increase that we had was two years ago. We tried to level-ize the cost looking forward without big swings.

“No increase is good, though. We look at this and we dread it, taking the increase forward.”

The 9,000 subscribing residents will see an average increase of 4.5 percent for the next three years.

“The majority of the cost increases are due to the programming cost; 50 (percent) to 60 percent are royalty fees. The royalty fees are going up each year,” McCoy said of basic stations carrying networks such as ABC and CBS. “In the old days, we used to get the signal for free. They’re looking to increase their revenue any way they can.”

She also said more movie-focused channels such as HBO package channels so residents must subscribe to multiple channels instead of just one.

“The way the contracts are written, you take the whole suite together,” McCoy said.

Although the word “increases” may bring instant stress to some, officials say the effects will be minimal.

“A typical subscriber of standard basic (cable) and (Internet) service will have a $2.75 (per month) increase,” McCoy said. “We’re proud of the fact that we’re still the lowest.”

Even with the increases, officials say Wyandotte Cable has more competitive pricing than the alternatives from AT&T or DISH Network. Comcast and Bright House Networks do not offer services in Wyandotte.

“We have over 70 percent of all the residents, about 74 percent,” McCoy said. “We’re lucky to have a very loyal customer base. I think it’s because you know who the people are.”

Although only available to residents, the company is continuing making strides to stay on top of the options national providers are offering.

“We keep adding new programming, the HD,” McCoy said. “We don’t have video on demand yet, but we’re working on that. We’re starting a Wi-Fi in the center downtown. It’s in trial mode.”

McCoy said on-demand service is expected to be available “in a month or two” and also noted that water and electric rates currently are being evaluated for Municipal Services.

For more information on city-offered cable digital telephone rates and options go to www.wyan.org/telecomm.htm.

(Contact Chris Jackett at cjackett@bewickpublications.com)