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 develop into aware of 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 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 can be charged overage charges by Comcast in all of 2021.

“Delaying this ill-timed information cap till at the very least 2022 is the suitable name,” Connecticut Lawyer Normal 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 have been tales from typical Connecticut households merely making an attempt to remain employed and educate their kids throughout a worldwide pandemic. To boost 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 obscure 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 fees being assessed for information utilization within the April 2021 billing interval. That plan drew condemnation from lawmakers, together with legislation in Massachusetts that might ban information caps and value hikes till the pandemic is over.

Comcast responded in late January by delaying overage fees 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 fees 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 establishment wherein a buyer’s state of residence determines whether or not they should take care of Comcast’s most unpopular coverage. Comcast’s overage fees are $10 for every extra block of 50GB, as much as a most of $100 every month. Prospects can keep away from overage fees by spending an additional $30 a month on limitless information or $25 for the “xFi Full” plan that features limitless information 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 information plans till at the very least April. “Prospects 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 proportion of Web customers hitting that mark is at all times growing, and broadband utilization has risen greater than regular 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 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 autumn 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 when put next 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 information utilization no matter when within the month that utilization happens isn’t an efficient device 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, notably 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 information caps, or incur vital unanticipated expense with a view to stay related.”

“Community capability isn’t a difficulty 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 at present imposed… It’s inconceivable that Comcast would select to impose this ‘cap and price’ plan throughout a pandemic, when many Massachusetts residents are compelled to work and attend faculty from dwelling by way of the Web.”

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