Cable rate increases continued to shrink in 1999, according to an FCC report last week. Maintaining a trend the FCC first noted on 1998 rates, companies that are the sole provider of cable services in their markets-the overwhelming majority of systems-increased average monthly rates 5.8% during the 12 months ended July 1, 1999. The few that face competition from overbuilders-a mere 309 operators-increased average monthly rates by only 4.6%. Increases in 1998 were 6.9% and 6.7%, respectively. Cable operators attributed about half their rate increases to higher programming costs and the rest to inflation, channel additions, and equipment and infrastructure upgrades.