Comcast reluctantly drops data-cap enforcement in 12 states for remainder of 2021

The back of a Comcast van driving along a street in Sunnyvale, California.
Enlarge / A Comcast van in Sunnyvale, California, in November 2018.

Comcast is delaying a plan to implement its 1.2TB knowledge cap and overage charges within the Northeast US till 2022 after pressure from clients and lawmakers in a number of states.

“[W]e are delaying implementation of our new knowledge plan in our Northeast markets till 2022,” Comcast mentioned in an announcement yesterday. “We acknowledge that our knowledge plan was new for our clients within the Northeast, and whereas solely a really small share of shoppers want extra knowledge, we’re offering them with extra time to change into conversant in the brand new plan.”

Comcast has enforced the information cap in 27 of the 39 states through which it operates since 2016, however not within the Northeast states the place Comcast faces competitors from Verizon’s un-capped FiOS fiber-to-the-home service. In November 2020, Comcast announced it will convey the cap to the opposite 12 states and the District of Columbia beginning in January 2021. However with yesterday’s announcement, nobody in these 12 states and DC might be charged overage charges by Comcast in all of 2021.

“Delaying this ill-timed knowledge cap till at the least 2022 is the appropriate name,” Connecticut Lawyer Basic William Tong said yesterday. “I’ve heard from households throughout Connecticut who simply exceeded this cover whereas finding out and dealing remotely. Removed from so-called tremendous customers, these had been tales from typical Connecticut households merely making an attempt to remain employed and educate their youngsters throughout a worldwide pandemic. To lift charges on these households on the very second they had been most reliant on broadband entry and least capable of pay extra was merely unconscionable.”

The delay applies to Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

Comcast imprecise on plans for 2022

Comcast’s unique plan for the Northeast imposed the cap in January 2021 whereas offering courtesy months through which newly capped clients can exceed 1.2TB with out penalty, ensuing within the first overage prices being assessed for knowledge utilization within the April 2021 billing interval. That plan drew condemnation from lawmakers, together with legislation in Massachusetts that might ban knowledge caps and worth hikes till the pandemic is over.

Comcast responded in late January by delaying overage prices till the July billing interval, however the further few months did not quiet the controversy. Yesterday’s announcement of a delay till 2022 didn’t specify through which month of 2022 the primary overage prices will seem. We requested Comcast if it plans to impose the caps on the Northeast in January 2022 or someday later however did not get a solution.

Unfortunate clients in 27 different states

Comcast did inform us that there are not any adjustments within the different 27 states, the place clients will proceed to face caps and overage charges. Comcast’s insistence on persevering with to cost overage charges in most of its territory maintains the unequal establishment through which a buyer’s state of residence determines whether or not they need to cope with Comcast’s most unpopular coverage. Comcast’s overage prices are $10 for every extra block of 50GB, as much as a most of $100 every month. Clients can keep away from overage prices by spending an additional $30 a month on limitless knowledge or $25 for the “xFi Full” plan that features limitless knowledge and the rental value for Comcast’s xFi gateway modem and router.

As we famous in previous coverage, Comcast mentioned it would not cost Northeast customers for limitless knowledge plans till at the least April. “Clients in our Northeast markets who’ve signed up for xFi Full or Limitless have not really been billed due to the complimentary months. So [there is] no want for refunds or credit,” Comcast informed us right this moment.

Although Comcast claims the 1.2TB cap solely impacts “tremendous customers,” the share of Web customers hitting that mark is at all times rising, and broadband utilization has risen greater than normal in the course of the pandemic. OpenVault analysis discovered that over 14 % of US-based subscribers used over 1TB a month in This fall 2020, up from 8.8 % of subscribers in Q3 2020, as we reported last week. The proportion of shoppers utilizing over 2TB a month greater than doubled to 2.2 % in the identical time interval. Median month-to-month utilization in This fall 2020 was 293.8GB and common utilization was 482.6GB.

“The explosion in knowledge consumption throughout 2020 has established a brand new regular of bandwidth utilization that’s particularly seen in comparison with pre-pandemic time intervals,” OpenVault mentioned.

Community capability not a “legitimate excuse”

Knowledge-overage charges increase Comcast’s income, however limiting month-to-month knowledge utilization no matter when within the month that utilization happens isn’t an efficient instrument for stopping community congestion in actual time. Comcast has boasted of its community’s sturdy efficiency within the pandemic, as soon as once more displaying that knowledge caps are a profit play rather than a necessity.

Tong informed Comcast in a letter earlier this month that “[b]roadband Web entry is a vital public service, notably in the course of the ongoing pandemic… The very last thing our residents want to fret about presently is whether or not they may run afoul of information caps, or incur important unanticipated expense with a view to stay linked.”

“Community capability isn’t a difficulty for Comcast or a legitimate excuse to cost clients extra,” 71 Massachusetts lawmakers informed Comcast in a letter in late December. “Comcast itself claims it has loads of capability throughout its community, together with areas the place no caps are at present imposed… It’s inconceivable that Comcast would select to impose this ‘cap and charge’ plan throughout a pandemic, when many Massachusetts residents are compelled to work and attend faculty from house by way of the Web.”

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