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.