When Comcast brought its gigabit cable Internet service to the Chicago area in August, it gave customers in some parts of Chicago and nearby towns the option of subscribing for $70 a month-half off the standard, no-contract price of $140.
Though the $70 gigabit offer required a three-year contract, it came with unlimited data, which normally costs an extra $50 a month on top of the $140 no-contract price. For Comcast customers, this was a good deal.
But Comcast didn’t make the $70 offer available throughout the Chicago area, and now the company has restricted it even further. The offer remains available in parts of Chicago, namely Uptown, Grand Crossing, the Loop, and South Loop.
But Comcast has stopped offering the $70 price in all nearby cities and towns where it was originally available. The $70 price was briefly offered in Arlington Heights, Naperville, Plainfield, Waukegan, Tinley Park, Batavia, and Bloomington in Illinois and in South Bend in Indiana. In those areas, the $140 no-contract price is now the only option for new gigabit cable customers. (People who signed up for the $70 deal before it was rescinded will still get it for three years, as they’re under contract.)
A Comcast spokesperson said the company had been “testing” the $70 promotion in certain areas of Illinois and Indiana but decided to stop the tests in most of them. It’s not clear why Comcast stopped the tests in these cities and towns, but Comcast told Ars that it often changes its promotions and thus could expand the $70 deal to other areas or offer new discounts soon.
However, there are no expansions of the $70 offer being announced right now.
Comcast’s gigabit cable service uses version 3.1 of DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) to deliver download speeds of 1Gbps and upload speeds of 35Mbps. Besides Chicago, it is available in Atlanta, Nashville, and Detroit and will expand to more cities early next year.
Separately, Comcast also offers fiber-to-the-home Internet with 2Gbps upload and download speeds in some cities, though not Chicago. But this is more expensive, costing $300 a month with $1,000 in startup fees.
The gigabit cable availability announcements for Nashville, Detroit, and Atlanta all boasted the $70 rate, but that rate was curiously absent from Comcast’s Chicago announcement. When questioned about this in August, a Comcast spokesperson initially said the $70 offer wasn’t available in Chicago at all. That was later corrected to reflect that the offer would be available in parts of Chicago and nearby areas.
This naturally led to confusion, with customers trying to get the $70 price and being told it wasn’t available. We reported at the time that some Comcast reps told customers the offer didn’t exist at all in Chicago. Another customer who signed up for the $140 gigabit package said he was told by Comcast that the $70 price was only available in neighborhoods where Comcast faced competition from ATT’s fiber service.
Customer in city with $70 offer denied discount price
Earlier this month, Naperville resident Leo Yu contacted Ars to say that he was unable to get the $70 price despite living in one of the areas that was supposed to receive the $70 offer. Yu says that in August, he signed up on the Comcast website to be notified when the service became available at his house.
But by the time a Comcast sales rep finally contacted Yu in late October to set up his gigabit service, he was told that $140 was the only price available. “I would love to get the service at $70 a month even with a three-year contract, but not for $140,” Yu told Ars.
We contacted Comcast about Yu’s situation, and that’s when we were told that the $70 offer had been pulled from Naperville and other areas. However, Comcast said it would reach out to Yu and make sure he can sign up for the $70-per-month package.
We also heard from another Chicago-area customer named Ryan who was unable to get the $70 price. Comcast told us that it can’t offer Ryan anything but the $140 price right now because he doesn’t live in any of the cities where Comcast tested the $70 price.
Comcast told us that those hoping for $70 pricing can sign up for notifications at this site and hope that Comcast eventually offers it to them. This is far from perfect, though: signing up at the Comcast gigabit site could bring you sales phone calls with offers of the standard $140 price, as there’s no way to specify that you’re only interested in discounted offerings.
Ryan isn’t holding his breath. He said that ATT Gigapower service is available at his address for $90 a month and that he plans to switch to ATT if Comcast refuses to budge on the $140 price.