Comcast Wants to Impose “Data Caps” on Internet Use

Will charge more to people who use more Internet.

Warning: If you watch a lot of Hulu or Netflix, Comcast‘s Internet service is probably going to get more expensive for you sometime in the future.

But maybe not right away: TechCrunch reports the Philly company wants to impose “data caps” on service within the next five years.

During an investor call todayComcast executive VP David Cohen said that he predicts bandwidth caps (or, as ISPs prefer to put it, “usage-based billing”) to be rolled out network-wide within the next 5 years or so.


The reason they haven’t done so already? They’re still working out exactly where they can cap things before they start getting phone calls — that is, before people start calling up to cancel. Meanwhile, making things more complicated tends to scare people away, so they don’t want to just offer up multiple plans/tiers — so before they make any changes, they need to find that plan that works for almost everyone.

TechCrunch's writer points out that Comcast has put limits of 300 GB a month in some "trial" markets. (To be clear, that's not a hard cap: You simply pay $10 a month for the next 50 GB.) That sounds like a lot, but he writes: "My house would pass that cap nearly every month. That’s almost entirely just because of our moderate-to-heavy use of Netflix/Hulu use." Which may not be a huge coincidence — Comcast also owns the cable service everywhere it goes. The result of data caps will be that cord cutters who get their video fix without cable service won't find big dollar savings for doing so.

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  • DTurner

    Go ahead, it will just push competitors to come into the market. I’m sure that the majority of users would gladly go elsewhere. I would based on customer service alone.

    • dongle

      DTurner,

      Unfortunately the barrier to entry in this market is too great for a start-up company. Meanwhile, Comcast is buying up major competitors such as Time Warner…

      • DTurner

        True, but I have a feeling that this would give a big boost to WiMAX, which could be a solution. I agree though, our system is insane and we should allow competing providers. NPR’s Planet Money had a great show on this recently. We’re currently paying more for less.

  • Joe Jones

    Let’s see. Would that $10 a month be like the 39 cent stamp of 8 years ago? Comcast has this habit of increasing prices rather quickly. My own service has more than doubled in the last 10 years. As far as competition is concerned, there are plenty of rural areas in which people have no other choice.

    • barrygster

      What rural markets do comcast serve?

      • Joe Jones

        I meant that Comcast is the only choice in some rural markets. I am in South Jersey, in the Pine Barrens region. Comcast is the only Internet provider we can get except for dial-up, which is useless.

  • Jerry Pomroy

    You’ve got to love capitalism. So because their paying customers choose to utilize their internet service (which when stand alone, you already pay a higher rate) only, their going to squeeze the lifeline in which their competitors thrive.

    How about Comcast invest within themselves and start producing a superior product. At least be competitive in that regard. Yeah they’ve finally rolled out their X1 interactive software. But it’s only available to existing customers if you sign up for a triple play package. Otherwise, you’re dealing with technology and software that’s old & stale. My cell phone is more interactive, intuitive and a more pleasurable experience than Comcast’s guide and menu options. It’s rather tedious and did I mention stale. You’d think that they’d be more willing to upgrade existing customers so they don’t go running to the competition for a better product. Now, I won’t go too deep, but Comcast’s customer service is putrid frankly and needs to be completely overhauled from the ground up. I self-installed my system a few weeks ago. Two of the three boxes wouldn’t activate. Tried online, tried calling customer service and was told to take the boxes to nearest service center and swap them out. We also noticed the one box that did activate wouldn’t access on demand. Called customer service and again the answer was take the box in to swap out because they wouldn’t be able to get a technician out until Tuesday (I called on a Thursday!!). So I took the boxes to the local service center and had to wait for nearly an hour and a half before I was called just to swap out some boxes. The people were friendly, so I don’t blame them. The place was packed. Obviously it’s their entire system that’s broken.

  • Joseph_S

    OK, fine… So I would pay an extra 10 bucks for each 50 GB over 300 GB. Now… Does that work both ways? I should get a $10 reduction for each 50 GB UNDER 300 GB per mo. If my usage is less than 200 GB, I should get $20 off my bill. OK, Comcast?

  • Michael Berry

    Welp, America, we let this happen.

  • JJ

    They broke up the phone company to protect people from unfair trade by the monopoly that was AT&T. While product development soared, so did the price of everything. Customer service has plummeted.

  • Chris H

    This would kill the online gaming world. Big F you to Comcast, will never use them if this goes in effect