In the wake of customer backlash over limits and surcharges, by June 1, Comcast will unveil a 1,000-gigabyte cap for broadband customers in markets previously limited to 300-gigabytes monthly. In 2012, the company stopped enforcing a universal 250-gigabyte limit, and since then has been testing different Internet plans in mainly Southern states, reaching 14 percent of its homes or 2.8 million customers. Comcast has stated that 10 percent, or more than 2 million people, use 300 gigabytes or more a month.
The Wall Street Journal says that Comcast’s move is in response to a front page article in its publication that revealed the “limitations that home broadband data caps are placing on families and ‘cord-cutters’ that have dropped pay-TV subscriptions as they spend more time streaming video and other media.” After the WSJ contacted them, AT&T and Suddenlink Communications changed their data limits.
The FCC has also “taken an interest” in home broadband data caps, specifically as part of its pending approval of the $55 billion deal for Charter Communications to buy Time Warner Cable, stating the combined company won’t be allowed to put caps in place for seven years.
Comcast executive Marcien Jenckes reports that less than 1 percent of customers are likely to go over the 1,000-gigabyte plan. “We have learned that our customers want the peace of mind to stream, surf, game, download, or do whatever they want online,” he said, adding that the few who go over 1,000 gigabytes will be able to buy an unlimited plan for an extra $50/month or pay $10 for every additional 50 gigabytes.
The 1,000-gigabyte limit will allow a monthly download of 60,000 high-resolution photos, 700 hours of streaming HD video, and 12,000 hours of online game play in one month.
Comcast is not yet offering a 1,000-gigabyte limit to all its customers; Jenckes says the company is evaluating plans for other markets. Nationwide, users are gobbling up bandwidth as they stream movies and live TV. Time Warner reports its average household usage in December was 141 gigabytes a month, an approximate 40 percent growth a year.
Gunning for Google, Comcast Preps Gigabit Internet That Works with Regular Cable, Wired, 4/30/16