The cable industry continues to hold the line on cable prices despite escalating programming costs -- especially higher sports rights fees - and system upgrades. Rates stayed unchanged on a cost-per-channel basis, and the cost of basic service rose only 2.3 percent, less than the 3.7 percent inflation rate over the same period. While cable programming service tier rates increased somewhat more rapidly last year, these tiers grew in the number of channels offered and face head-on competition from the two national satellite providers. Cable customers are receiving more channels and better value for their dollar than ever before, plus opportunities for exciting new services such as high speed Internet access, cable telephony and other advanced services.