FCC Tells Comcast It Had Better Get To Marketing That Standalone Broadband Service

The Federal Communications Commission has slapped Comcast with a $800,000 fine for not doing its part to market its standalone broadband Internet service. It was supposed to do just that as part of the conditions of its merger with NBC Universal last year.

Back in January 2011, the FCC and the Department of Justice approved the Comcast-NBC Universal deal, provided that certain conditions would be met. One of those was that Comcast had to still offer standalone broadband Internet service at reasonable prices, and with sufficient bandwidth to non-subscribers of Comcast cable service.

“Today’s action demonstrates that compliance with Commission orders is not optional,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement. “The remedies announced today will benefit consumers and foster competition, including from online video and satellite providers, by ensuring that standalone broadband is truly available in Comcast’s service areas. I am pleased we were able to resolve this issue.”

What Comcast was supposed to do, and what it apparently failed to do, was provide broadband service with download speeds of at least 6 Mbps at $49.95 per month or less for at least three years, and to actively market that standalone service.

The FCC apparently received enough complaints against Comcast for not meeting those conditions to open an investigation, which resulted in this week’s $800,000 settlement. From here on out, the “Performance Starter” service must be offered until at least February 21, 2015, a year beyond the original requirement.

Comcast also has to make sure that service is more prominent on its website and in other promotions, you know, so customers know it’s an option.

FCC, Comcast Reach $800K Broadband Deal [PCMag.com]

Comments

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  1. Blueskylaw says:

    Cost of stalling: $800,000

    Extra profits earned by stalling: $100,000,000

    Future action: More stalling

  2. Gman says:

    Oh no a $800,000 fine. I’m sure Comcast is cowering in its boots over that ginormous hole in their annual profits. Hey maybe lets give them more than a slap on the wrist next time.

    • dolemite says:

      I expect I’ll get a notice in the mail next week: “Due to government regulations, we are raising your cable rate for the 2nd time this year. X package is now $2 higher….”

  3. dolemite says:

    6MB down for $50 a month. Other countries are getting 5x that for half the cost. Lack of competition.

    • anchorworm is really sick of Minnesota weather says:

      You are so right. It is embarrassing how slow broadband service in the US is when compared to other countries. After returning to the States from South Korea, I was very unpleasantly surprised at how slow “broadband” service was here. I believe that the main reason was that I only had a choice between the phone company and the cable company.

      • Lyn Torden says:

        Do you have a list of what your choices were in Korea? That can be helpful in showing to Reps, Senators, and the Prez, that the US lacks sufficient competition to have a free market.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          Most countries only have a tiny number of broadband options. They’re just heavily regulated by the government.

          • incident_man says:

            Well, now, we cant have that gosh darn gubmint regulation!! That’s just that there dangerous SOCIALISM talk all over again!!!!!!1111!!!!

            Gotta have them free market thingys to keep the trickle-down thingamajig happenin’

            /sarcasm

          • oldultrarunner says:

            Not true. I travel for 5-6 months a year (Dec-April) every year on a bike through SE Asia and can tell you that even a little country like Laos or Vietnam has much better, faster and more affordable high speed internet than we have here in the US. The US really sucks when it comes to telecommunications compared with the rest of the world. We’re light years behind even Third World countries. I rode my bike from Cairo to Capetown in 2011 and even in the Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania and other African countries, their internet was much faster and better than ours. People in the US always settle for second best.

    • clarkis117 says:

      I know the FCC needs to come down on them with a Fing hammer

  4. KyBash says:

    So they paid less than a million in order to gouge customers sixty-three million for another year.

    Seems like a good deal to me!

  5. Auron says:

    THose damn lefties…..trying to hold companies accountable to terms they agreed to with the government……I tell ya……
    /s

  6. Lyn Torden says:

    Comcast’s competition in Chattanooga makes their service packages clear:

    https://epbfi.com/internet/

    • dolemite says:

      Wow. For $105, I get 2x the speed and more channels than my current comcast subscription (which is like $140 a month).

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Yeah but you gotta dig to get anything that isn’t bundled with TV.

  7. bkeyport says:

    Comcast has gotten fined twice here, and this is our third price increase of the year! Good Job, FCC!

  8. areaman says:

    I see the people in the FCC who came up with the $800K fine figure getting nice jobs at Comcast soon.

    Comcast probably already had the press release ready to say it’s all on the up and up and everyone else is wrong except Comcast.

  9. erinpac says:

    Is that supposed to be available everywhere? And not as a promotional price?

    The cheapest I’ve been able to get is about 3x that. :(

    • SerenityDan says:

      Yeah I donno, I live in Philly and my monthly bill is $61.02, I only have internet with them and have their cheapest option. That’s after all the “fees” and such so I don’t even remember what the price for the service itself is listed as.

  10. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    If I didn’t know any better, I’d think Comcast’s only product was “Triple Play”. They push the phone/cable/internet packages above all else. What’s really weird is that in my franchise, Performance Internet is $62.95/month by itself, but $49.95/month when you get it with cable or phone service. Performance Starter is $49.95/month for both stand alone and bundled with another service.

  11. crispyduck13 says:

    It’s still a ripoff at $50 a month, too bad we don’t have much of a choice here unless you want to throw in with Verizon.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      :( I don’t even get that choice. I get Comcast, dial up, and satellite.

  12. clarkis117 says:

    $50 a month for only 6Mbps… That’s still reallly crappy service, but yet it is another example of money hungry communication companies gouging comsumers every chance they get. :(

  13. ILoveBacon says:

    If you really want to punish Comcast, actually do something to bring in some competition rather than allowing these regional monopolies to raise prices infinitely while keeping speeds slow.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      Our local Comcast franchise just signed another 10 year agreement. Oh, and the city council was quick to point out it’s not a monopoly, and that any other cable company was welcome and able to come in, put up their own lines, etc. and compete with Comcast.

      We live in a rural county, and the customer base is very small. That ain’t gonna happen. So we have a de facto monopoly.

      • Auron says:

        This is why there should be a disinterested 3rd party that lays down the infrastructure. The 3rd party then could “lease” the infrastructure to any carrier. That’s the only way the cable & internet industries would truly be competitive.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          There is, technically, a “disinterested 3rd party that lays down the infrastructure.” Taxpayers *OVER*-paid for all of that infrastructure with massive tax breaks and free land given to the Cable companies.

          It makes no sense that the local government isn’t allowed to dictate the use and pricing of services.

          • Joedragon says:

            what land?? most cable lines are the same polls are phone and power.

            • Conformist138 says:

              Those lines lead to hubs with pretty massive dishes. Funny enough, “cable” service uses a lot of satellites.

        • oldultrarunner says:

          I live in Colorado, and our local community of 90,000, has full fiber optic lines laid for high speed internet; even the amplifiers are installed on the lightpoles. We once had a company that was offering high speed internet using the fiber optic lines but Comcast spent a lot of money against the company so it went out of business. Then we had a vote last year to allow the city to set up it’s own high speed internet for residents and millions of $ were spent by Comcast against it (they defeated a proposal on the ballot in 2008) but this time it passed overwhelming. But we’re still waiting for the city to develop the service.

  14. Shadowfire says:

    Alternative first paragraph:
    “The Federal Communications Commission has slapped Comcast with a fine equivalent to 101 minutes of Comcast’s yearly revenue….”

  15. camman68 says:

    I have CenturyLink – and their advertised price is $49.99 for 1.5 down. It sucks.

  16. sapientidiot says:

    I’m a little confused about this, much as i do dislike comcast, I don’t think they offer anything less then 15mbps, except for maybe the new low income tier, which only costs $15/month if i recall correctly.

    I currently get 20mbps from comcast as a stand alone service for $30/month. Every once in a while it will drop down to $20/month when they have a promotion for new customers (after i call and say i want to cancel). Maybe I’m missing something though.

  17. shufflemoomin says:

    6Mbps for $50 is considered acceptable in the US? Man, you guys get the shaft.

    • dolemite says:

      You should see what satellite customers pay when there is no broadband available in their area.

      • dwtomek says:

        It’s OK our health care system makes up for… Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Well at least we’re still keeping that disgusting socialism out of our flawless nation. Yep, that’s the ticket.

    • oldultrarunner says:

      No, it’s not acceptable but we’re held hostage to a monopoly here for high speed internet. You either go with Comcast or you’re screwed. Telecommunications and broadband sucks big time here in the United States. I travel on a bike through Asia every year for 5 months and can tell you personally, that even Vietnam and Laos has better broadband (and totally free) than we get in the US.

    • Kitten McNuggets says:

      no, it’s not acceptable. it’s just that there are very few cable internet providers, so we basically have to pay what THEY want to charge. here in Colorado, we basically have two choices for broadband: Comcast (cable) or CenturyLink (DSL). for most people here, those are our two choices. CenturyLink is a bit cheaper, but their service sucks ass (my mother’s DSL has gone down THREE TIMES over the past week alone, for at least two hours at a time!) nobody outside of rural areas would ever want to pay for satellite access, because it’s super-expensive, and the 4G modem options offered by a couple cellular providers are slow and even more expensive (and restrictive) than cable or DSL.

      nationwide, Comcast and Time-Warner are the two big cable internet providers, and neither one is easy on the wallet. it basically is a monopoly, and nobody seems to want to step up and start competing companies (in fact, there used to be a lot more cable companies in the US, but over the years T-W and Comcast have bought them up.) our data infrastructure in the USA is massive, but unfortunately there are only a few huge corporations that control the majority of it and we’re left getting screwed over with high prices and low speeds compared to most every other developed country in Europe and Asia.

  18. RadioactiveSmurf says:

    “6 Mbps at $49.95 per month or less for at least three years” This is still an insane price. 6 Mbps is adequate but not fast and for $49.95 (because why would they do less) it’s a total slap to the face. I have AT&T UVerse and even after taxes and fees I only spend $30 for this speed. What a ripoff $49.95 would be.

  19. soj4life says:

    You can get triple that speed for $30 a month with them.

  20. oldultrarunner says:

    I cannot begin to say how happy I was to read this article. I had contacted Comcast several months back asking to drop my Comcast cable tv (I dropped it to Basic when they raised prices a year ago) as I wanted to just have the high speed internet, and put in a digital antenna in the house so I could get free local programming. I was getting sick and tired of Comcast, paying $25 a month for Basic with nothing but Spanish channels, Home Shopping and religious channels. When I called, I was told that, yes I could drop the TV cable, but then I would have “only” the internet service and there was a charge of $15 extra month for “standalone fee”. So I was pretty much held hostage to Comcast in order to not pay that extra a month. Seems to me that if the FCC fined them for this, that customers should get something out of this also since Comcast was essentially cheating customers by not allowing them to drop the cable tv without incurring a “standalone” fee. Personally, I could care less of Comcast went bankrupt. It’s a lousy company (but excellent technicans when they come to the house), and you call for customer service, you always get someone sitting in a cubicle near the Mall of Asia in Manila, Philippines…always. And they just cannot do the job they’re trained to do.