LUS Fiber raises cable rates

by Nathan Stubbs

LUS Fiber has announced rate increases for much of its cable TV service, bringing its standard rates more in line with those of its chief competitor, Cox Communications.

This blog has been updated. The original post contained outdated information regarding Cox's cable plans pulled from their website

LUS Fiber has announced rate increases for much of its cable TV service, bringing its standard rates more in line with those of its chief competitor, Cox Communications. The new prices will be applied to customers' Nov. 24 bills. LUS' Expanded Basic tier will go from $39.95 to $46.95 a month. The Digital Access tier is jumping from $46.44 to $54.95 per month, and the Digital Plus tier increases from $58.31 to $67.82 a month.

Here's a side by side comparison of standard price plans between Cox and LUS, although other factors, such as the channels themselves, the number of High Definition channels and special features, also vary between the plans.

LUS Basic                                        $17               Cox TV Starter          $15.55
(20 channels)                                                         (up to 43 channels)

LUS Expanded Basic                    $46.95             Cox TV Essential      $52.99
(80+ channels)                                                       (up to 87 channels)

LUS Digital Access                      $54.95              Cox Advanced TV    $61.98
(150+ channels)                                                     (up to 171 channels)

LUS Digital Plus                           $67.82              Cox TV Premier        $70.98
(180+ channels)                                                      (up to 282 channels)

LUS also is increasing prices for its premium channels. Cinemax will go to $7.78 per month,  Starz/Encore will go to $10.85 per month, Showtime will go to $12.11 per month and HBO will go to $14.81 per month. Cox charges $13.99 a month, $22.99 for two premiums, $29.99 per month for three, and $35.99 per month for four premium channels.

LUS Director Terry Huval cites rising prices coming down from TV programmers to carry their channels, as well as LUS' protracted fight to win admittance into the National Cable Television Cooperative as the main reasons for the price hike. LUS Fiber has alleged Cox, which now sits on the board of the NCTC, has worked to block LUS from joining the organization, which helps members negotiate better rates with programmers. LUS Fiber now has a pending complaint with the Federal Communications Commission over NCTC's rejection of its membership bid.

In letters to customers that began going out last week, Huval writes:

The reason for the increase is because of the rising costs for us to buy the rights to carry channels on our system. These are called programming costs. In order to operate a cable TV system, we must pay each channel provider a monthly fee. This applies to every channel on our system and those fees are the single largest cost we have in providing video services.

From the beginning of this fiber initiative, we publicly acknowledged that we would have to occasionally increase our video charges due to increases in our programming costs. In the almost 2 years since we have begun operations, this is the first time we are increasing any of our charges.

Compounding the normally expected increases in our programming costs, is the fact that LUS Fiber has been prevented from joining a cooperative entity that would have allowed us to leverage our buying power with those of many other smaller cable providers. A large number of smaller cable providers are saving money by purchasing their programming through this cooperative, and we have not been provided any reason why LUS Fiber is being treated differently from those other cable providers. WE have filed a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission seeking to address this issue.

My commitment to you is that LUS Fiber will continue to provide world-class video, Internet and phone services and that we will always work to keep our prices for our services as competitive as possible.