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Mediatti Broadband Communications raised prices for prepaid cable television and Internet packages on Friday by slashing what the company referred to in an e-mail as its “promotional rates.”

After the company took over on-base military cable and broadband services last year, it began offering discounts of 35 percent for a one-year prepayment and 15 percent for a six-month prepayment.

Those discounts have been cut to 10 percent and five percent, respectively.

“Going back to the original contract, we did not have to give a discount on the video side,” said Mediatti general manager John Hadsell. “The original contract we were working under called for a discount on Internet service only.”

The company decided to retain a smaller discount anyway, said Hadsell, who will be leaving his position later this month.

Customers who previously purchased the $910.80 annual Tier II extended basic cable and Internet package saved $318.78 by prepaying. They will save $91.08 under the new rates.

Anyone who prepaid before Friday will not be subject to the price hike until their renewal date, according to an e-mail sent to Mediatti subscribers.

Hadsell declined to disclose what percentage of Mediatti’s customers prepay their bills. The rates for customers paying month-to-month are unchanged.

Some base residents said they would have prepaid before, but couldn’t pay the more than $600 upfront it had cost for some cable and Internet service plans.

“I had considered it, but it just wasn’t the right time,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Amanda Fountain. “Now that the discount has really significantly dropped, no, I wouldn’t think about it.”

With the reduced savings, Fountain said she would rather pay month-to-month so that it would be easier to cancel her service if she were dissatisfied.

The cable service itself is acceptable and broadband Internet is a big improvement over dial-up access, Fountain added.

Other than weather interruptions, the channel quality is better than it was before Mediatti took over from Americable in April 2004, said Tech. Sgt. Lavalle Boswell.

However, Boswell disapproved of the new prices.

“They have a kind of monopoly on the cable system here,” he said. “They know they can get their money.”

Mediatti is putting some of that money into upgrades, Hadsell said. The company rebuilt its head receiving site, upgraded the outside plant and is replacing electronic gear, he added.

Added bandwidth gained from the upgrades will mean more cable channels, Hadsell said, but he declined to disclose how many or which channels because of ongoing negotiations.

The upgrades are causing service outages throughout base housing areas. The rain has delayed progress, but Hadsell said the work should be finished by the end of July.

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