Surprise: Comcast will complete rollout of data caps everywhere in 2021

onetheycallEric

Posts: 219   +42
Staff member
For shame During the midst of an unprecedented pandemic that has many consumers stranded at home, with internet usage soaring as families work and learn from home, Comcast has made the decision to continue its unpopular plan to impose monthly data caps. If you happen to be a Comcast customer who's so far eluded data caps in your market, it seems your time is up. The ISP has announced that it will rollout monthly data caps to the remaining 12 states that currently don't have them by early 2021.

The 1.2TB data caps will hit the following markets, ensuring all of Comcast's 39-state US territory is covered: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Comcast will also implement data caps in the remaining parts of Virginia and Ohio that don't currently have them. These are likely markets that are facing some manner of competition from other ISPs, such as Verizon.

Once the 1.2TB data cap is reached, customers will have to pay $10 per 50GB of additional data, up to a maximum of $100 per month. Comcast is also offering "courtesy months," whereby customers will be able to take the months of January and February to assess how the data caps may affect their internet usage with no risk of overage charges.

For the time being, it seems the data caps won't apply to Comcast's Xfinity Internet customers who are paying for the Gigabit Pro tier -- a 2 Gbps plan that starts at $299/month. Nor will the data cap apply to "Business Internet customers, customers on Bulk Internet agreements, and customers with Prepaid Internet," per Comcast's wording.

As ever, Comcast maintains the tired rhetoric that these caps are aimed at a subset of "super users," and that the data caps foster a fair "use more, pay more" model. Of course, Comcast is also encouraging consumers to consider its Unlimited Data Option, which is an extra $30/month.

In reality, data caps exist only as an arbitrary, thinly veiled cash grab. They're a decision born out of desire for ever higher revenue, not less crowded networks. The assertion that data limits have any tangible effect on network management are demonstrably false. Comcast itself proved data caps were unnecessary, as it highlighted how its network was unaffected with rising internet usage patterns during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While it's unsurprising to see Comcast maintain its course with useless monthly data caps, it's no less disappointing.

Image credit: Jonathan Weiss

Permalink to story.

 
  • Like
Reactions: wiyosaya

dangh

Posts: 176   +203
Madness. How the hell is that possible? In any free market country there would be a competition to provide a better solution.
In Ireland I have limitless pay as you go internet for E20 on my mobile, and 500 mbits limitless broadband at home for E70 (which actually is more expensive than many other options), and Ireland is in general quite expensive country to live in. And at any stage I can get any other provider to my place.
Why Google not getting more coverage?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Reehahs

ColdSoup

Posts: 112   +239
Madness. How the hell is that possible? In any free market country there would be a competition to provide a better solution.
In Ireland I have limitless pay as you go internet for E20 on my mobile, and 500 mbits limitless broadband at home for E70 (which actually is more expensive than many other options), and Ireland is in general quite expensive country to live in. And at any stage I can get any other provider to my place.
Why Google not getting more coverage?
The United States has a very anti-free market for internet service providers. There are an absurd number of government imposed regulations that make it literally impossible for there to be competition in many areas.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,340   +1,214
In reality, data caps exist only as an arbitrary, thinly veiled cash grab. They're a decision born out of desire for ever higher revenue, not less crowded networks
I see the concept of journalistic fairness and impartiality has escaped you. Regardless, the above statement is flatly incorrect. At one point, the top 1% of customers at one major provider consumed 94% of the data bandwidth. That's a major problem-- at least for the other 99%. Users in the top 0.1% were consuming more than 200 times the data as the average user. I imagine those figures are even more imbalanced today, and the disparity will only rise as network speeds increase.

You may not like the laws of economics, but you can't repeal them with whining rants. Bandwidth costs money. ISPs provide that bandwidth, and divide up that cost among their users, adding between 6%-14% as profit, depending on provider. How should that cost be fairly allocated? Should a user who consumes 200x the data pay 200 times as much? In any other industry, you wouldn't bat an eye over that pricing model -- but Comcast is asking only an extra $30. That's more than reasonable.
 
Last edited:

Hexic

Posts: 834   +993
I see the concept of journalistic fairness and impartiality has escaped you. Regardless, the above statement is flatly incorrect. I haven't seen updated statistics recently, but at one point, the top 1% of customers at one major provider consumed 94% of the data bandwidth. That's a major problem-- at least for the other 99%. Users in the top 0.1% were consuming more than 200 times the data as the average user. I imagine those figures are even more imbalanced today, and the disparity will continue to rise as network speeds increase.

You may not like the laws of economics, but you can't repeal them with whining rants. Bandwidth costs money. ISPs provide that bandwidth, and divide up that cost among their users, adding between 6%-14% as profit, depending on provider. How should that cost be fairly allocated? Should a user who consumes 200x the data pay 200 times as much? In any other industry, you wouldn't bat an eye over that pricing model -- but Comcast isn't asking for that, but only an extra $30. That's more than reasonable.
The argument is mostly moot.

On one hand, yes, it is quite nice to not have to pay 200x the price if you are 1% of the total usage group. In reality, I personally don’t use anywhere near my 1.2TB per month with Comcast, but it’s just me and the woman, so that’s not the usage of your “standard family” if you will.

On the other hand, since Comcast’s own statistics did state that even a national WFH push via the pandemic didn’t bog their networks down, why impose a cap at all then? If that 1% is taking up 94% of the data bandwidth (source?) - then it would be more than reasonable to begin having conversations with those parties, charge them via an agreement for their outrageous usage, and not punish everyone for the actions of quite literally 1%. I’d bet good money that 94% usage isn’t all for legal purposes either, but I don’t have a source.

Either way, the root here is laziness and greed by ISPs. They can either:

1) Work it out with the select very few who are using outlandish amounts of resources, and keep everyone else where they’ve been at unlimited

2) Impose data caps that don’t affect most of their clients, create an extra $30/mo charge that most people won’t need (won’t fix the 94% case, btw), and simply milk everyone for their money instead of the few who are actually resulting in the usage.

No matter how you slice it, the ISPs could save a lot of face and target the problem at its root, instead of just charging more.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,340   +1,214
since Comcast’s own statistics did state that even a national WFH push via the pandemic didn’t bog their networks down
I'm not sure what you read; WFH isn't affecting backbones substantially, but it is seriously degrading last-mile network performance. Here's a NYT article on the subject.

it would be more than reasonable to begin having conversations with those parties, charge them via an agreement for their outrageous usage, and not punish everyone for the actions of quite literally 1%.
But they are doing just that. "Data cap agreement" = "Charging them for their outrageous usage". What do you want them to do, send a couple men in dark suits and brass knuckles to the homes of the offenders?

As for "everyone being punished", the average user by definition won't break that 1.2TB barrier. And for those that do, being asked to pay more is not punishment. Is the rotund individual at McDonalds who orders the supersized option being "punished" with the higher price he's charged?
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 356   +449
Impose data caps that don’t affect most of their clients, create an extra $30/mo charge that most people won’t need (won’t fix the 94% case, btw), and simply milk everyone for their money instead of the few who are actually resulting in the usage.
That’s literally what they did:
Of course, Comcast is also encouraging consumers to consider its Unlimited Data Option, which is an extra $30/month.
Edit: Actually I'm not sure if you're saying to only charge the top data users a fixed fee or to spread the costs and charge everyone... Your comment seems to say the complete opposite thing in the second half of my quoted part.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Reehahs

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 356   +449
In other news, I’m saving a bunch of money by pairing up Xfinity Internet with Xfinity Mobile. If it was just me, it would cost me $12/mo but my wife likes to use over 5 GB of data so we end up paying no more than $30/mo divided between the two of us. They let us switch plans at any time of the month, so we always have an opportunity to save money by using less data. And it uses Verizon’s cellular network which is a big plus.
 

derncricket

Posts: 16   +17
Comcast is still doing everything it can to remain the most hated company in the US. I used to work for Comcast. The sentiment in the office was that America hated Comcast more than big tobacco, more than big oil. Comcast insists on proving that they deserve to be hated. I hated working for them, and I hate their service. I have no choice but to use them. They are the only provider that services my apartment. And I hate them for it. They drive up the prices while driving down the value. The day comcast goes bust will be a great day in my opinion.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,340   +1,214
Comcast is doing everything it can to remain the most hated company in the US. I used to work for Comcast....I hated working for them, and I hate their service... The day comcast goes bust will be a great day.
I'm guessing someone stole the red stapler off your desk...?
 

Hexic

Posts: 834   +993
I'm not sure what you read; WFH isn't affecting backbones substantially, but it is seriously degrading last-mile network performance. Here's a NYT article on the subject.

But they are doing just that. "Data cap agreement" = "Charging them for their outrageous usage". What do you want them to do, send a couple men in dark suits and brass knuckles to the homes of the offenders?

As for "everyone being punished", the average user by definition won't break that 1.2TB barrier. And for those that do, being asked to pay more is not punishment. Is the rotund individual at McDonalds who orders the supersized option being "punished" with the higher price he's charged?
So if one month I happen to use 1.3TB of data for whatever reason, I would be charged an extra $100 (or an extra $30 if I went on the unlimited), just because one time a few guys happened to use 350TB a week?

No. You do not limit the many off of the actions of a few. That’s simply bad policy making. If the cap doesn’t effect most people, then why have it? Because they have 2 more options to make money, one of them a “$30 insurance package”, that’s why.

Defending this policy as “fair” to anyone is a asinine.
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,725   +979
I'll bet that MA or New York passes state legislation that outlaws caps in the next few years. Hard to say if this will have cross-state impacts, like their state regulations on automobiles tends to have - but it is possible.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,340   +1,214
So if one month I happen to use 1.3TB of data for whatever reason, I would be charged an extra $100
. No, you'd be charged an extra $20 -- $10 per every extra 50GB, up to a maximum of $100.

...just because one time a few guys happened to use 350TB a week? No. You do not limit the many off of the actions of a few.
That's like complaining because the electric company charges you for every watt-hour you burn, because if they didn't, some people would run their meters non-stop. Or complaining that Starbucks charges you for every espresso shot you add, because some people always ask for three or four.

Usage-based price models are the standard, not the exception. It only worked on the Internet when speeds were so slow, and most people used at least roughly the same bandwidth. When power users are consuming 200 times the bandwidth as average users, and 1,000 the bandwidth of some infrequent users, charging everyone the same flat rate is utter insanity.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,340   +1,214
I'll bet that MA or New York passes state legislation that outlaws caps in the next few years. Hard to say if this will have cross-state impacts, like their state regulations on automobiles tends to have - but it is possible.
It's certainly possible. Of course, like most feel-good knee-jerk laws, it would do more harm than good. Providers would respond either by raising prices across the board, or limiting maximum speeds to the point that no user can consume more than a certain amount regardless.
 

Bp968

Posts: 202   +148
I see the concept of journalistic fairness and impartiality has escaped you. Regardless, the above statement is flatly incorrect. At one point, the top 1% of customers at one major provider consumed 94% of the data bandwidth. That's a major problem-- at least for the other 99%. Users in the top 0.1% were consuming more than 200 times the data as the average user. I imagine those figures are even more imbalanced today, and the disparity will only rise as network speeds increase.

You may not like the laws of economics, but you can't repeal them with whining rants. Bandwidth costs money. ISPs provide that bandwidth, and divide up that cost among their users, adding between 6%-14% as profit, depending on provider. How should that cost be fairly allocated? Should a user who consumes 200x the data pay 200 times as much? In any other industry, you wouldn't bat an eye over that pricing model -- but Comcast is asking only an extra $30. That's more than reasonable.
If they do caps they should scale with the speed paid for. You do understand they are charging a premium for speeds that can saturate that data cap in 2 and a half hours right? My provider doesn't do caps because we have actual competition here, but if they did a 1.2TB cap my DL speed would fill it in less than 3 hours. Even a "slower" speed of 300mb would fill it in 8-9 hours.

How well do you think that top end speed plan would sell if it had a little tagline saying "*full data speeds only available for 3 hours before your data cap is exceeded"?

They want the perks of being a regulated business without actually being a regulated business. A monopoly without the actual strings that come along with that. Both gov parties are *****s but hopefully this one finds the time to put the screws to some of these companies that think they can have their cake and eat it too.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,340   +1,214
You do understand they are charging a premium for speeds that can saturate that data cap in 2 and a half hours right...How well do you think that top end speed plan would sell if it had a little tagline saying "*full data speeds only available for 3 hours before your data cap is exceeded"?
Gigabit Pro customers are exempt from the data cap. It only applies to the lower-tier customers, more than 95% of which don't use 1.2TB a month anyway. Plus Comcast allows you to exceed that 1.2TB one month for free each year. Plus they'll send you a notification before you hit the cap, giving you the option to switch to the unlimited plan. It's not like you're ever going to be surprised by a surcharge on your bill.

Finally, I should point out that most of their customers already are subject to this cap, and have been for quite some time. The only change here is Comcast applying it to the last 14 states in their territory.

Again -- what's the beef?
 
Last edited:

Axiarus

Posts: 610   +416
I see the concept of journalistic fairness and impartiality has escaped you. Regardless, the above statement is flatly incorrect. At one point, the top 1% of customers at one major provider consumed 94% of the data bandwidth. That's a major problem-- at least for the other 99%. Users in the top 0.1% were consuming more than 200 times the data as the average user. I imagine those figures are even more imbalanced today, and the disparity will only rise as network speeds increase.

You may not like the laws of economics, but you can't repeal them with whining rants. Bandwidth costs money. ISPs provide that bandwidth, and divide up that cost among their users, adding between 6%-14% as profit, depending on provider. How should that cost be fairly allocated? Should a user who consumes 200x the data pay 200 times as much? In any other industry, you wouldn't bat an eye over that pricing model -- but Comcast is asking only an extra $30. That's more than reasonable.
Maybe they should have upgraded their infrastructure when they got that government money instead of pocketing it. Other countries are years ahead of us price/bandwidth wise because they invested in it instead of grabbing for profits.
 

Bp968

Posts: 202   +148
. No, you'd be charged an extra $20 -- $10 per every extra 50GB, up to a maximum of $100.

That's like complaining because the electric company charges you for every watt-hour you burn, because if they didn't, some people would run their meters non-stop. Or complaining that Starbucks charges you for every espresso shot you add, because some people always ask for three or four.

Usage-based price models are the standard, not the exception. It only worked on the Internet when speeds were so slow, and most people used at least roughly the same bandwidth. When power users are consuming 200 times the bandwidth as average users, and 1,000 the bandwidth of some infrequent users, charging everyone the same flat rate is utter insanity.
Except each KWh of power has a direct cost, while its the bandwidth capacity that costs the lions share for data, not the data itself. Of course the cash cow is in selling the average consumer bandwidths way in excess of what they need or what the company can even provide, so their not going to charge more for lots of bandwidth. Much easier to use sneaky fees like the airline industry does.

But lets look at this from a real usage standpoint. A married household of 2. Both gamers. Watches 60 hours of streamed video between them (probably more) per month. So 420GB of streamed video at 7GB per hour for 4K video. Say they buy 2 major games per month (100GB download, x4) so another 400GB. You both work from home so another 20 hours of zoom meetings between the two (so 20GB there). Online gaming of another 60-100 hours each per month. 150mb/hr so another 30GB roughly.

Without any updates to software, redownloads of anything, and only two users we are at 900GB for the month. A family of 4 gamers would vastly outstrip that data cap. You could argue they should watch tv in SD or some such nonsense but why else are they buying 500mb+ bandwidth connections?

So since comcast is offering a 30$ unlimited addon, its really just a "stealth" 30$ price increase for their top tier plans.

Data "caps" are just a way for the cable companies to double dip. If you buy a cell plan you pay for data at max bandwidth. And when your data amount runs out you either pay more or get less bandwidth.

What comcast wants is to charge you a tiered price structure for bandwidth *and* charge you for the data that rides across that pipe as well. Double dip.
 

Axiarus

Posts: 610   +416
. No, you'd be charged an extra $20 -- $10 per every extra 50GB, up to a maximum of $100.

That's like complaining because the electric company charges you for every watt-hour you burn, because if they didn't, some people would run their meters non-stop. Or complaining that Starbucks charges you for every espresso shot you add, because some people always ask for three or four.

Usage-based price models are the standard, not the exception. It only worked on the Internet when speeds were so slow, and most people used at least roughly the same bandwidth. When power users are consuming 200 times the bandwidth as average users, and 1,000 the bandwidth of some infrequent users, charging everyone the same flat rate is utter insanity.
Its funny, because Spectrum operates without data caps or contracts and they are doing just fine.
 

wujj123456

Posts: 45   +17
TechSpot Elite
It’s absolutely hilarious to hear the same people who want more, bigger government in their lives handing out free living wages and taking complete care of them from cradle to grave complain about stuff like this. You wanted it, you got it. Now deal with it.
I feel you get it backwards for these telecom services. The initial investment to overbuild incumbent is so steep that naturally prevents competition. This is called "natural monopoly". Utilities and telecom are classic examples of this. The role of government here is to force competition, through funding or rules like unbundled access, reducing the financial barrier of new competitors.

Unfortunately, US agencies aren't doing it, but instead handed over rules that strengthen monopoly sometimes. This feels more of a regulatory capture than big government. You only need to look over at your friends in UK to see how proper regulation could be helping instead of harming.
 
Last edited:

Bp968

Posts: 202   +148
Gigabit Pro customers are exempt from the data cap. It only applies to the lower-tier customers, more than 95% of which don't use 1.2TB a month anyway. Plus Comcast allows you to exceed that 1.2TB one month for free each year. Plus they'll send you a notification before you hit the cap, giving you the option to switch to the unlimited plan. It's not like you're ever going to be surprised by a surcharge on your bill.

Finally, I should point out that most of their customers already are subject to this cap, and have been for quite some time. The only change here is Comcast applying it to the last 14 states in their territory.

Again -- what's the beef?
The 300$ a month *2*Gb/sec package is exempt. Who in the world is buying that? And if any home users *are* actually buying it then the data caps are doing exactly what comcast wants, driving users up the pricing ladder. Like I said, the 30$ "unlimited" addon is really just a stealth price increase for all the 500mb+ bandwidth plans.

Data caps break all kinds of services, like cloud backups, 4k streaming, etc.

Of course all this is moot to me. Comcast isn't in my area and I have 3 providers in my area all competing with each other. Which is why I have a 1gb fiber connection for 75$ a month and can (and do) use dozens of TB of data per month (I pay for 1gb to get the upstream bandwidth for cloud storage).
 
  • Like
Reactions: Fimbulvetr