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Consumer Reports: Cable TV, internet price hikes and data caps; what you need to know

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Posted at 8:10 AM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 09:10:37-05

(CONSUMER REPORTS/WTVF)  — Every January, the biggest cable and satellite companies generally raise their prices. So, if you're one of their customers, you can expect to pay more.

If you subscribe to AT&T’s DirectTV or U-verse, Charter’s Spectrum internet or Comcast’s Xfinity cable or internet, and you’re not in a promotional or introductory offer contract, you may be seeing a higher cable or internet bill this new year.

“It’s becoming an annual thing for companies to raise prices on TV and internet service. They blame the increases on rising programming costs and faster broadband speeds,” said Jim Willcox, Consumer Reports Tech Editor.

AT&T customers who have DirecTV and U-verse TV service will be seeing price hikes in January. An increase for some Charter customers with Spectrum internet already went into effect, and Comcast internet and cable customers will also be paying more.

“Comcast is boosting add-on fees as well. Broadcast TV fees are going up by as much as $4.50 a month. And there’s a $2 bump to get regional sports networks,” said Willcox.

Several companies are also reinstating data caps that were suspended during the early days of the pandemic lockdown when so many people were working and going to school from home.

“With data caps, you get a certain amount of data with your monthly plan. If you exceed that amount, then you could get hit with overage charges or you might find that your download speeds are slowing down,” Willcox added.

But there is one bright spot for consumers. A new law now in effect requires cable and satellite TV companies to disclose the total monthly price of your bill when you sign up. That includes all charges, fees, and estimated taxes. The law also bans those companies from charging you rental fees for equipment, like a router, you provide yourself.

If you're frustrated by the climbing prices, you can also contact your internet or cable provider and see what they can do to lower your bill. You might also want to consider cutting the cord, so to speak, and switch to streaming. You now have plenty of options if you choose to do that.