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I'm not sure what the cost of CableCARDs is to produce, but in areas where I've seen cable company price lists include the purchase of a CableCARD as an option, they've been priced around $75-$90. That seems about what cable set-top boxes cost (with integrated authorization systems). I would expect that with the move to the use of actual CableCARDs even in cable company set top boxes that it's the CableCARD that'll be the more costly of the two. Of course DVR/PVR devices will change that somewhat.

Still, just based on cost of equipment, I would expect the rental charge on a CableCARD to be about the same as the rental charge on the CableCARD based set-top box without the CableCARD included, or put another way, that the CableCARD rental would be about half the cost of the set-top box w/CableCARD rental.

And in the case of DVR/PVR devices, I would guess it'd pan out as CableCARD alone equaling about 1/3rd of the rental cost of a DVR/PVR w/CableCARD rental.
 

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I pay $2.95 each for cablecards from Verizon to use their FIOS service with my S3 Tivos. Compare that to $4.99 for a standard set-top box or $9.99 for an HD set-top box and multiply it times two. Cablecards allow you complete freedom from the cablecos boxes and are cheaper to rent. I understand that some cablecos seriously gouge their customers for cablecards in some areas but my understanding is that Verizon's prices are fixed no matter what locale you live in.

I'd much rather pay $5.90 monthly for two cablecards and have the ability to record in HD using a Tivo interface. It's a far cheaper alternative than having to use an external set-top box with my own DVR and still have HD recording capability. The Verizon HD-DVR is a Motorola POS that only has a 160GB drive and it actually costs more to operate than my S3 Tivos. The Verizon website has it listed at $12.99 per month but it's my understanding that it will increase to $14.99, making my S3 Tivo cheaper per month.

My feeling is that if you don't like the pricing structure then there are other providers available. Even if you don't have FIOS in your area, many counties have more than one competing cable service. Even if you're stuck with a single cable provider then you also have DirecTV or Dish as an alternative. If you can't access either satellite service for some reason and you're stuck with the cableco then your only alternative is to sit around and whine about it or ditch TV and read a book. I mean, all the effort that's going into your letter writing campaign has the potential for saving you what, about $10 a year or maybe slightly more? You'll probably burn up more than that in postage and trips to the Post Office unless you have your congressman's e-mail address, which no doubt is freely available.
 

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captain_video said:
I mean, all the effort that's going into your letter writing campaign has the potential for saving you what, about $10 a year or maybe slightly more? You'll probably burn up more than that in postage and trips to the Post Office unless you have your congressman's e-mail address, which no doubt is freely available.
I believe conventional wisdom says that congressmen give much more weight to correspondence sent via U.S. Mail rather than via e-mail. I'm not sure if that's just a reflection of their old-school mentality or if they're really just impressed you can come up with 41 cents! :D

In any event, I enthusiastically support this letter writing campaign, though perhaps it is unfair of me to assume that most people have the convenience of home mail pickup!
 

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bmgoodman said:
I believe conventional wisdom says that congressmen give much more weight to correspondence sent via U.S. Mail rather than via e-mail.
Not since the anthrax scare and 9/11. Fax is probably best, followed by e-mail. I doesn't hurt to send a letter, it will just take a while before they get it.
 

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txagfan said:
You are crying about paying $1.95 for cable cards? Are you kidding me? :rolleyes:
As others have pointed out, you missed the point entirely. The point is not they are over-pricing their cable-cards. It's they are underpricing their set top terminals and cable drop policies in a bid to drive CableCard based consumer devices off the market.

txagfan said:
One thing you don't seem to understand is that Cable is a BUSINESS. They open their doors everyday to make money.
Then why are they leasing their set top terminals at a loss? The OP seems to uderstand business far batter than you. This would explain why he is a CEO and you are not.

txagfan said:
I don't think $1.95 is a big deal at all when you opened your wallet and paid $300 for a dvr. You want digital services that the cable company has to regurlarly make deals with the programmers i.e. ESPN that raise their rates every year for the cable co to broadcast, but you don't want to pay a digital outlet fee.
Again, you missed the point entirely. The programming fees are paid by the CATV provider whether they sell the services via CableCard, via set top terminal, or via leased DVR. The company in question is effectively charging *LESS* for it's DVR than if the user does not lease the DVR. Not only that, but they are charging for an additional service (the extra drop) if the user has a personal device than if they use the CATV company's equipment. This means their profit is much higher off the consumer who purchases equipment elsewhere than the consumer who leases the CATV company's equipment. That is not a fair business practice. At the very least, the CATV company should make no more off a consumer who provides his own equipment than off the one who obtains the exact same services and also makes use of additional CATV company equipment. Finally, the negotiated prices with the content vendors is either a flat monthly fee or per customer, *NOT* per drop, and definitely not per CableCard or terminal device.

One cannot sell at a loss and make up for it in volume.

That being the case, then either the CATV company is stupid (which is less unlikely than some might think, actually), or else this is very strong evidence the CATV provider has an ulterior motive behind their aggressive pricing. It does not take a genius to figure out what that motive most likely is.

txagfan said:
How else are they going to raise the money for constantly rising broadcast fees other than passing it on to the consumer.
Then why are they only passing on this cost to consumers who use CableCards?

txagfan said:
They aren't just going to take a loss, they are going to make the people who want the digital services to pay for it.
Taking a loss is exactly what they are doing with their DVR lease customers. It's one thing to make consumers pay for services, but it is entirely another to make one class of consumers pay for services and not another when they purchase exactly the same services.

txagfan said:
As for the cards in the box, an HD DVR uses one M-stream card, not two S cards.
First of all, that assumes the CATV company is offering M-Cards and they are offering them at the same cost. Most are not yet offering M-Cards, and I am given to understand the Series III does not yet support M-Cards. (I do need to check into this, because I have a series III, and my local CATV company is supposed to be getting M-Cards soon.)

Of course, prices vary around tyeh country, and while it isn't quite fair, it also isn't exactly unethical for one system to charge more for one service and less for another than another system in another city. That said, I think this is clearly a case of predatory pricing. The CATV company pays at least $100 or more per unit for the DVR and the M-Card probably costs at least $20 per unit. Giving the customer $.95 cents a month for the DVR will of course never recover the cost, but even taking the DVR / CableCard system as a whole, it's going to take at least 20 months to recover the cost of the DVR, and given the rate at which technology is advancing and the abuse heaped upon the relatively frail DVRs by consumers, that CATV company is definitely losing money on it's DVRs.

By comparison, here I was paying $19.95 for the first DVR with digital services and $9.95 for each additional DVR or HD set top terminal with nothing for additional outlets (I have 8 outlets). Now I'm paying $9.95 for a set top terminal and $1.95 each for four S-Cards. I'm saving money by not using the CATV company's equipment, which is proper.
 

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captain_video said:
I mean, all the effort that's going into your letter writing campaign has the potential for saving you what, about $10 a year or maybe slightly more? You'll probably burn up more than that in postage and trips to the Post Office unless you have your congressman's e-mail address, which no doubt is freely available.
You're missing the big picture. First of all, from the personal viewpoint it is not important how much money the consumer (him in this case) might save, it's about his ability to continue to make reasonable choices and obtain superior services should he so choose. If the CATV companies are successful in undermining the manufacturer's attempts to follow the spirit of the FCC rulings, that freedom will be lost. Secondly, from an impersonal viewpoint, unethical practices are not acceptable. One person should not receive the same services for less cost than another, let along the same services *AND* the use of leased equipment, and no company should be allowed to injure the revenue stream of another company by predatory pricing practices. While it saves some money up-front, it is bad for the consumer in the long run. Not only will the "winner" raise the rates gluttonously to recover their losses and more once the competition has been eliminated or at least crippled, but there is a very real chance the unethical party will bankrupt themselves and perhaps others as well. This will put hundreds or even thousands of employees out of work. Believe it. Our competition tried the same tactic, and the smaller ones are all bankrupt now. The big ones are still alive, but they have now gone on their gorging binge and consumers are paying the price.
 

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lrhorer said:
You're missing the big picture. First of all, from the personal viewpoint it is not important how much money the consumer (him in this case) might save, it's about his ability to continue to make reasonable choices and obtain superior services should he so choose. If the CATV companies are successful in undermining the manufacturer's attempts to follow the spirit of the FCC rulings, that freedom will be lost. Secondly, from an impersonal viewpoint, unethical practices are not acceptable. One person should not receive the same services for less cost than another, let along the same services *AND* the use of leased equipment, and no company should be allowed to injure the revenue stream of another company by predatory pricing practices. While it saves some money up-front, it is bad for the consumer in the long run. Not only will the "winner" raise the rates gluttonously to recover their losses and more once the competition has been eliminated or at least crippled, but there is a very real chance the unethical party will bankrupt themselves and perhaps others as well. This will put hundreds or even thousands of employees out of work. Believe it. Our competition tried the same tactic, and the smaller ones are all bankrupt now. The big ones are still alive, but they have now gone on their gorging binge and consumers are paying the price.
For years Comcast has offered their cable internet service at a price higher than they offer the same cable internet service plus the basic level of cable television service. Few seem terribly bothered by that.
 

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dswallow said:
For years Comcast has offered their cable internet service at a price higher than they offer the same cable internet service plus the basic level of cable television service. Few seem terribly bothered by that.
dswallow, I guess these people (me too) are a little more passionate about their Tivo than their internet connection. :)
 

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BobCamp1 said:
Not since the anthrax scare and 9/11. Fax is probably best, followed by e-mail. I doesn't hurt to send a letter, it will just take a while before they get it.
My congressman (or his staff, bydir) has several times responded to my emails by saying write me a letter that I can forward to the FCC.
 

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For years Comcast has offered their cable internet service at a price higher than they offer the same cable internet service plus the basic level of cable television service. Few seem terribly bothered by that.
What you failed to mention that although the package price is less expensive on paper in reality it actually costs about the same as getting the internet all by itself. I had Comcast for years and kept just the basic service for my locals prior to DirecTV adding them to their lineup. I also had their wideband internet service. When DirecTV offered my locals I dropped the basic cable package and just kept the internet. As expected, my monthly costs rose to $57.95 per month (I forgot what the actual monthly cost for the internet was prior to that but it was only about $42.95 or so). The basic channels may have only cost about $10-11 but you had to include the cost of renting a cable box on top of that, bringing the total back up to around $55-57 for my internet plus the local channels. If I added the basic service which allowed me to get my locals without a box then it would have cost me more than the internet service by itself.

The box was configured to block out anything other than the local channels and you couldn't connect the cable from the wall directly to the TV because they placed an RF switch in the line that would only stay closed if the converter box was in the signal path. Fortunately, the installer found it was better for him to install the switch inside the house rather than outside in the plastic dome by the street. When he left I removed the switch and stuck the converter on a shelf. I got all the basic channels in addition to my locals but since I had DirecTV I never watched them anyway.

If you're like me, you'd rather have a setup configured without all the extra set-top boxes sitting around. I'm still trying to understand why people are griping because they only have to pay a couple of bucks for a cablecard that eliminates the need for a more costly cable box that does the same thing and eliminates the clutter. The non-standard rates charged for cablecards is the real issue that needs addressing, IMHO.

FYI - Comcast has forever lost me as a customer due to their ridiculous pricing structure. I'm with FIOS now and have never been happier to cut the cord.
 

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mkennedy96 said:
I believe that any cable company that is charging more than $1.95 for a CableCard and only charging $6.95 for a Set-Top box that includes a CableCard security component to be guilty of Predatory pricing. Below is a complaint that I filed with the FCC. In have read in this forum of other cable companies charging much more than I am paying.

I encourage everyone paying more than $1.95 to file a complaint. They keep raising the prices, where will it stop without FCC intervention?

The Honorable Kevin J. Martin
Chairman
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554

Re: Brighthouse Networks Predatory Pricing

<snip>
Nice letter. FWIW, Brighthouse in Tampa does not charge me the additional outlet fee of $0.95. You may want to call back on that one and ask them to remove it since you are using only one outlet for two cards.

In Tampa, I may be on the verge of successfully acquiring an M-Card for my TiVoHD which supports M-Cards. It was a roundabout method I used. I started with a complain to the City Of Tampa via the TampaGov Cable TV Service Complaint Web Site. Shortly after the complaint was filed, I was contacted by a gentlemen named Erin in the Brighthouse customer service organization after a City of Tampa employee transferred my complaint to them. I voiced my problem with lack of M-Card availability for my TiVoHD and the cost of S-Card's... very similar to your letter.

He called me back today and said that the M-Card's will soon be available to the general public. They are in the warehouse and he will be provisioning me one very soon. He tentatively scheduled an appointment for this coming Saturday for an M-Card installation. He said that I will likely be the first recipient of an M-Card in the Tampa Bay area. They are so new that he doesn't even know what the pricing on the M-Card will be.

I will post after my install on Saturday or if any other developments take place.
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sbiller said:
FWIW, Brighthouse in Tampa does not charge me the additional outlet fee of $0.95. You may want to call back on that one and ask them to remove it since you are using only one outlet for two cards.
I've tried that here in Pinellas and have never had any luck. I suspect the reps don't know how to do that in the billing system (2 cards, 1 outlet). It's been a few months though, maybe I should try again.
 
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