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Phone, cable deals await public's vote
Qwest and Comcast take off the gloves to gain market share, but customers may not be eager to jump ship.
By Beth Potter, Staff Writer
Denver Post
Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Comcast customer Leslie Madsen, 49, said she's not interested in shopping for a $10 to $15 discount on her high-speed Internet and cable bill.

As local cable and phone companies use pricing to fight for market share, the University of Colorado at Denver employee cares more about Internet speed and reliability than pricing.

"I'm not price-sensitive.  Reliability is more important," Madsen said.  "If it's a month or two cheaper, it's not worth the brain damage."

Qwest on Monday launched a new pricing salvo with a package priced at $96.97 a month for local and long-distance calls, high-speed Internet and DirecTV service.  Customers must sign up for a year to get the service.

For $109.97 a month, Comcast offers local and long-distance calls over its own "Digital Voice" lines, high-speed Internet and cable service for new customers.  The same package for existing customers is priced at $129.59, according to Comcast's website.

"We don't compete on price," said Cindy Parsons, a Comcast spokeswoman.  "It's the added value.  We offer more channels and the video-on- demand content and thousands of hours of content for our customers."

Qwest customer John Witkowski, 51, said he'll call the phone company to get a better price for the high-speed Internet, cellphone and long-distance services he buys.

"I'll bet they'll amend my bill to give me the new deal," he said.

Both Qwest and Comcast have run promotions in the past to convince new customers to sign up or to entice existing customers to switch.

New customers who sign up for Comcast's high-speed Internet can get it for $29.99 a month for six months, for example, Parsons said.  Next month, the price is expected to roll back to the regular $55.95 a month, or $45.95 if customers also subscribe to another service, such as cable TV.

Qwest and Comcast have taken off the gloves in their battle for customers, said Kelly Zunker, president of the Denver Telecom Professionals industry networking group.

"There are only so many people looking for high-speed Internet, so they both try to lock each other in for as long as they can on these long-term contracts," Zunker said.

Staff writer Beth Potter can be reached at 303-820-1503 or bpotter@denverpost.com.


http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_3626089