Two of the largest cable and Internet companies in Beaufort County have announced price increases that will start appearing soon on some customers' monthly bills.
Hargray Communications has begun notifying residential and business customers of new pricing that starts next month and will add as much as $5 a month for cable and Internet services.
Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable is raising monthly prices for its South Carolina customers by an average of 3 percent starting this month.
Andrew Rein, Hargray's vice president of sales and marketing, said the new pricing is necessary to pay for infrastructure upgrades and the ever-rising cost of cable channels.
"The cable programmers increase our rates every year by 8 to 10 percent," Rein said. "At the end of the day, we are in a position where we need to pass some of that expense on."
Customer demand for faster download speeds and more data consumption require system upgrades that cost millions of dollars a year, he said.
Digital cable prices will be $2 a month higher for Hargray customers starting in April. Internet costs will rise by $3 a month, according to a Feb. 28 letter to customers.
The new pricing will affect only customers not currently enrolled in promotional pricing for bundled services, Rein said.
Rose Dangerfield, Time Warner spokeswoman, said the company raised prices by an average of 3 percent for its S.C. customers effective on this month's bills. Those increases, which will vary depending on a customer's service, will affect only a fraction of the company's subscribers.
"Seventy-seven percent of our customers aren't going to see any change in their bill. The reason is they are in a promotional package," she said.
Rising TV programming costs have been an industry trend for years, company officials note, sparking a $5 to $7 monthly increase for Hargray customers last April.
But other telecom companies -- and, ultimately, their customers -- also are feeling the pinch.
The Wall Street Journal reported late last year that DirecTV would raise prices by about 4.5 percent starting in February to cover higher costs. Comcast also has raised prices this year for its Xfinity service in some markets.
Hargray's rate-hike announcement comes about a month after it announced plans to buy Savannah-based business services company iTech for an undisclosed amount, and about a week after it announced it would carry a Charleston ABC affiliate.
Rein said the company is simply passing on higher costs, not using them as an excuse to bolster profits.
"I know that we are not alone," he said. "Across the board, the industry is all dealing with this in a similar fashion, and that is because we are all experiencing a similar demand for increased bandwidth and programming challenges on the TV side."