We’ve all been subjected to the bundling and promotional sticker prices of cable, only to be surprised by your bill at the end of the month. And maybe you called to complain, because what does the sticker price include when you’re paying double what you thought you would?? Some of those cable fees can be pretty difficult to decipher.

Credit: ConsumerReports, CR Cable Bill Report 2019

So we figured it out for you. Turns out, it still doesn’t make sense. Here are the most common fees tacked onto a cable internet bill.

Broadcast TV Fee

A broadcast TV fee is probably showing up on your bill if you’re paying for cable TV. Which, yes, makes no sense at all why it would be a fee since you’re...paying for TV already? The cost could range from $3/month to $15/month.

To be clear, cable companies will pass this off as a government tax--but it’s not. They’ll tell you that the government is charging them a tax to carry broadcast channels (the channels you can access over the air, for free, with an antenna), so they’re passing the buck onto their subscribers. Let’s get real: they’re keeping the buck. And then charging you more.

Regional Sports Fee

Similar to the Broadcast TV fee, the Regional Sports fee is a charge to cover the cost of carrying sports networks in your area. That means if you live in Boston and you’re a Boston Bruins fan and you want to watch the games with your cable TV subscription...they’re going to charge you more for it. Even if you live in Boston and you’re not a Bruins fan and you don’t want to watch the games…they’re going to charge you more for it.

Device Rental Fee

This fee is pretty self-explanatory and pretty silly. As it turns out, cable providers charge you for internet access *but* that charge doesn’t include the device you need to actually access the internet, aka a router or modem. Most people aren’t experts on routers, and they’re constantly updating, so it may make sense to get one from your internet provider. But as it turns out, some cable companies will even charge you a fee to use your own. The world is upside down.

Early Termination Fee

This is the fee your cable provider will send your way if you decide to cut your long-term contract with them short, for whatever reason. Maybe you’re moving and you can’t actually continue the contract (because you won’t physically be there!) or maybe you’re just fed up with the steadily growing bills and decide to switch providers. Basically, this is the money they charge you when you decide to stop giving them money.

Installation Fee

When you decide to outfit your house with cable or internet, the company you call will most likely charge you a one-time installation fee. That means they’re charging you to sit in your home during that 6-hour installation window, wait for a technician to show up for 10 minutes and leave, just to realize that the internet works in the kitchen but not the living room.

Just a note, we install our high-speed internet for free. In buildings and your own home. And our installers are extra nice.

Regulatory Cost Fee

Unlike the Broadcast TV fee and Regional Sports fee, this charge is actually passing the tax from the government onto consumers. Basically, the government regulates cable companies, to make sure they’re playing by the rules, and charges cable companies a fee for that regulation. Then the companies make their customers pay the bill for them.

One-time Fee

This fee...well, there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason behind when it appears on your monthly cable bill. But it seems as though you may get charged when you call to complain about an issue (your WiFi is slow, you can’t access channels you’re paying for) or if you call to downgrade or upgrade your service. Could be any price, at any time. Keep an eye out.

Why are cable companies doing this?

Basically, it’s part of a marketing ploy. By telling you an artificially low price, they’re hoping you’ll sign a long-term contract that locks you into paying waaay more than you thought you would (making them lots of money).

One of the founding principles behind Starry is that we’re never going to hide information from you. We want to be completely upfront about how much internet service costs and what you’ll get for that price. That means our sticker price ($50/month) is what you’ll pay, all the months. It includes taxes and the cutting-edge router we give you.

Tired of those cable fees and want a better, more affordable solution? Bring Starry to your building.


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