This is really nothing new.
Some of us here can remember the days of American Telephone & Telegraph - otherwise known as "The Phone Company" -- because it basically it was the one and only source from where any individual or business could obtain telephone service.
Just as in the days when the big Hollywood movie studios also owned the theaters in which their movies were shown -- AT&T owned all of the equipment...and the only way for you to have a physical telephone in your home or office was by renting it from AT&T - which was an additional charge added to your phone bill.
Back before the big breakup, there was no other option - there was no such thing as being able to buy your own phone from an electronics or household appliance store...it just didn't exist.
We paid for the dial tone, for the hardware, and for the maintenance if and when anything went awry.
Chris uses the cable companies to make a comparison - asking us to imagine what it would be like to have to pay a monthly fee for our TV set -- However, the better equivalent is the cable box itself, which you are forced to accept by your provider, for which you also pay rent and are unable to own outright or purchase from any other source.
Businesses know very well that many people do not have the resources to pay $600 up front for a cell phone - and if that was the only option, their sales volume would probably be much lower than it is.
So they use time-honored marketing and sales tools - such as knowing that many customers will find a monthly bill of $80 much easier to absorb - both financially and emotionally - and find clever methods to ease the pain and make us feel better - even though we know we're being stung in some way.