Our parents have told us for years that competition of any kind is healthy. It puts meat on your bones and builds character. It’s the heart beating at the center of career advancement, academics and especially athletics. But what Mom and Dad didn’t tell us is that without competition we’d be paying through the nose.
I spent a majority of my life living in major cities. The Detroit, MI area in particular. We didn’t get cable until about 1993 (I was 13) and my parents never approved of internet access until I was a junior in highschool. They always told us kids that it was just too expensive. “Yeah yeah” we thought. We didn’t care about money.
When I moved out on my own, I vowed to have cable, my own phone, internet access. The works. I was gonna live like a king. When I made my orders for all those services I was stoked at how cheap it was. The telephone ran in the range of $30 a month if I recall correctly. My cable was less than $40 a month. Internet access was a meager $25 a month for DSL when it was first making its debut to the public. In the Detroit area, over the years, those prices stayed about the same (unless you wanted to order all the bells and whistles)
Well, recently my fiancé and I moved to northern Michigan. Still the Lower Peninsula but upwards toward the Mackinac Island Bridge. One of the first orders of business? You guessed it. Phone, Cable, Internet. We started with the phone.
After a lengthy search to find out who provided service there (Verizon, of all companies) I was shocked to find out that their basic residential telephone service was about $50 a month with a long distance carrier. I decided to shop around for other prices and discovered that Verizon was the only company available. We bit the bullet and ordered. Next we did a look up on cable providers. Again, all we found was one company. Charter provided both digital cable and broadband internet access. The price however astounded me. For the lowest Digital cable package, it was $60 a month. Add internet access? That was another $40. We had been paying $75 a month for Digital Cable, 3 pay channels and broadband internet through Comcast when we lived in the Detroit area. I gave up on Charter and told them now. We went back to Verizon to look into the cost of DSL. $35.99 a month. After him-hawing we gave in and ordered the DSL. After all I had Charter when I lived in the Flint area and paid half what they were asking now.
I’m still without cable television. We get exactly 2 channels. Whitenoise on channel 18, and syndicated CBS with mixed local crud on channel 11. Life without CNN is indeed awful.
I put two and two together to find out why they’re able to charge so much. There is absolutely no competition for these companies. They have cornered the market in my area and hold a monopoly. Downstate, we had a choice of 3 cable providers and numerous phone companies. They were in direct competition and were lowering their rates to undercut the other guy.
To me, these small town providers holding the monopoly are as bad as someone doubling the price of gas at their store because they happen to be the only place within 50 miles. You have to get it from them, or you’re out of luck. They can get away with it, what choice do we have?
We went through this with Microsoft having a monopoly, over their company placing Windows on everything that wasn’t a MAC with no chance for other OS developers to get a taste. To my recollection there was a decision that forced Microsoft to stop.
There really needs to be federal regulation on the pricing of services. I’m left wondering how bad the prices will get before someone finally calls a time-out to evaluate the situation.