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 information 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 information plan in our Northeast markets till 2022,” Comcast mentioned in an announcement yesterday. “We acknowledge that our information plan was new for our clients within the Northeast, and whereas solely a really small share of shoppers want extra information, we’re offering them with extra time to grow to be acquainted with the brand new plan.”

Comcast has enforced the information cap in 27 of the 39 states by 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 might carry 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 information cap till a minimum of 2022 is the correct name,” Connecticut Legal professional Basic William Tong said yesterday. “I’ve heard from households throughout Connecticut who simply exceeded this cover whereas learning and dealing remotely. Removed from so-called tremendous customers, these have been tales from typical Connecticut households merely making an attempt to remain employed and educate their youngsters throughout a world pandemic. To lift charges on these households on the very second they have 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 by which newly capped clients can exceed 1.2TB with out penalty, ensuing within the first overage costs being assessed for information utilization within the April 2021 billing interval. That plan drew condemnation from lawmakers, together with legislation in Massachusetts that may ban information caps and worth hikes till the pandemic is over.

Comcast responded in late January by delaying overage costs 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 by 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.

Unfortunate clients in 27 different states

Comcast did inform us that there aren’t 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 established order by which a buyer’s state of residence determines whether or not they must take care of Comcast’s most unpopular coverage. Comcast’s overage costs are $10 for every extra block of 50GB, as much as a most of $100 every month. Clients can keep away from overage costs by spending an additional $30 a month on limitless information or $25 for the “xFi Full” plan that features limitless information and the rental price for Comcast’s xFi gateway modem and router.

As we famous in previous coverage, Comcast mentioned it would not cost Northeast customers for limitless information plans till a minimum of 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 instructed us as we speak.

Although Comcast claims the 1.2TB cap solely impacts “tremendous customers,” the share of Web customers hitting that mark is all the time growing, and broadband utilization has risen greater than traditional throughout 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 share 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 information 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”

Knowledge-overage charges increase Comcast’s income, however limiting month-to-month information 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 robust efficiency within the pandemic, as soon as once more exhibiting that information caps are a profit play rather than a necessity.

Tong instructed Comcast in a letter earlier this month that “[b]roadband Web entry is a vital public service, significantly throughout the ongoing pandemic… The very last thing our residents want to fret about right now is whether or not they may run afoul of knowledge caps, or incur vital unanticipated expense as a way to stay related.”

“Community capability just isn’t a problem for Comcast or a sound excuse to cost clients extra,” 71 Massachusetts lawmakers instructed 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 presently imposed… It’s inconceivable that Comcast would select to impose this ‘cap and payment’ 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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