Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Home Tech Comcast responds to pressure, cancels data cap in Northeast US until 2022

Comcast responds to pressure, cancels data cap in Northeast US until 2022

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 data cap and overage charges in the Northeast US until 2022 after strain from clients and lawmakers in a number of states.

“[W]e are delaying implementation of our new data plan in our Northeast markets until 2022,” Comcast stated in an announcement yesterday. “We recognize that our data plan was new for our customers in the Northeast, and while only a very small percentage of customers need additional data, we are providing them with more time to become familiar with the new plan.”

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

“Delaying this ill-timed data cap until at least 2022 is the right call,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong stated yesterday. “I have heard from families across Connecticut who easily exceeded this cap while studying and working remotely. Far from so-called super users, these were stories from typical Connecticut families merely trying to stay employed and educate their children during a global pandemic. To raise rates on these families at the very moment they were most reliant on broadband access and least able to pay more was simply 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 authentic plan for the Northeast imposed the cap in January 2021 whereas offering courtesy months in which newly capped clients can exceed 1.2TB with out penalty, ensuing in the primary overage costs being assessed for data utilization in the April 2021 billing interval. That plan drew condemnation from lawmakers, together with laws in Massachusetts that might ban data caps and value hikes until the pandemic is over.

Comcast responded in late January by delaying overage costs until the July billing interval, however the further few months did not quiet the controversy. Yesterday’s announcement of a delay until 2022 didn’t specify which month of 2022 the primary overage costs 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.

Unlucky clients in 27 different states

Comcast did inform us that there aren’t any adjustments in the opposite 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 established order in which a buyer’s state of residence determines whether or not they have to take care of Comcast’s most unpopular coverage. Comcast’s overage costs are $10 for every further block of 50GB, up to a most of $100 every month. Customers can keep away from overage costs by spending an additional $30 a month on limitless data or $25 for the “xFi Complete” plan that features limitless data and the rental price for Comcast’s xFi gateway modem and router.

Though Comcast claims the 1.2TB cap solely impacts “super users,” the proportion of Internet customers hitting that mark is at all times growing, and broadband utilization has risen greater than typical throughout the pandemic. OpenVault analysis discovered that over 14 % of US-based subscribers used over 1TB a month in This autumn 2020, up from 8.8 % of subscribers in Q3 2020, as we reported final 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 autumn 2020 was 293.8GB and common utilization was 482.6GB.

“The explosion in data consumption during 2020 has established a new normal of bandwidth usage that is especially visible when compared with pre-pandemic time periods,” OpenVault stated.

Network capability not a “valid excuse”

Data-overage charges enhance Comcast’s income, however limiting month-to-month data utilization no matter when in the month that utilization happens just isn’t an efficient device for stopping community congestion in actual time. Comcast has boasted of its community’s sturdy efficiency in the pandemic, as soon as once more exhibiting that data caps are a revenue play moderately than a necessity.

Tong advised Comcast in a letter earlier this month that “[b]roadband Internet access is an essential public service, particularly during the ongoing pandemic… The last thing our residents need to worry about at this time is whether they will run afoul of data caps, or incur significant unanticipated expense in order to remain connected.”

“Network capacity is not an issue for Comcast or a valid excuse to charge customers more,” 71 Massachusetts lawmakers advised Comcast in a letter in late December. “Comcast itself claims it has plenty of capacity across its network, including areas where no caps are currently imposed… It is inconceivable that Comcast would choose to impose this ‘cap and fee’ plan during a pandemic, when many Massachusetts residents are forced to work and attend school from home via the Internet.”

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