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

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 stress 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 info cap in 27 of the 39 states wherein 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 introduced it could deliver 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 can be charged overage charges by Comcast in all of 2021.

“Delaying this ill-timed knowledge cap till no less than 2022 is the fitting name,” Connecticut Lawyer Normal William Tong mentioned 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 have been tales from typical Connecticut households merely attempting to remain employed and educate their kids throughout a world pandemic. To boost charges on these households on the very second they have been most reliant on broadband entry and least in a position to 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 authentic plan for the Northeast imposed the cap in January 2021 whereas offering courtesy months wherein 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 laws in Massachusetts that may 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 additional few months did not quiet the controversy. Yesterday’s announcement of a delay till 2022 didn’t specify wherein 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 modifications 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 established order wherein a buyer’s state of residence determines whether or not they must take care of 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. Prospects 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 earlier protection, Comcast mentioned it would not cost Northeast customers for limitless knowledge plans till no less than April. “Prospects in our Northeast markets who’ve signed up for xFi Full or Limitless have not truly been billed due to the complimentary months. So [there is] no want for refunds or credit,” Comcast informed us at this time.

Although Comcast claims the 1.2TB cap solely impacts “tremendous customers,” the proportion of Web customers hitting that mark is all the time growing, and broadband utilization has risen greater than regular in the course of the pandemic. OpenVault analysis discovered that over 14 p.c of US-based subscribers used over 1TB a month in This autumn 2020, up from 8.8 p.c 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 p.c 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 knowledge consumption throughout 2020 has established a brand new regular of bandwidth utilization that’s particularly seen in comparison with pre-pandemic time durations,” OpenVault mentioned.

Community capability not a “legitimate excuse”

Information-overage charges increase Comcast’s income, however limiting month-to-month knowledge utilization no matter when within the month that utilization happens just 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 revenue play slightly than a necessity.

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

“Community capability just isn’t a difficulty for Comcast or a sound 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 the moment 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 college from dwelling by way of the Web.”

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