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

wujj123456

Posts: 49   +23
TechSpot Elite
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.
IMO, a fair price model should reflect the cost model. Unlike electricity or water where there are obvious per-unit cost, bandwidth and telecom infrastructure is quite different. You need the equipment to handle peak usage, which is the real cost. Everything outside peak doesn't cost much at all as those equipment is always powered on and additional power cost of moving more packets is negligible.

Thus charging only for bandwidth makes perfect sense assuming the bigger pipes consume more bandwidth at peak, so they shoulder a bigger share. Alternative charing models could be charging for peak usage only, or time-of-use charges in terms of data usage while the off-peak cost should be mostly free.

All current data cap implementation conveniently ignores the fact that bandwidth cost is very different during peak and off-peak. Those people stay within data cap can easily cost the company more if their usage is mainly during peak hours, forcing infrastructure upgrades, while the power users consume bulk off-peak. If they really want to justify data cap on cost, they should have different pricing during peak and off-peak. Otherwise, it's really just a cash grab.
 

Vrmithrax

Posts: 1,577   +628
They've been doing this a while everywhere else in the US, most people just aren't aware they have an arbitrary cap. And it's actually pretty brilliant on the part of Comcast. Slimy, but brilliant.

See, they are losing cable subscribers by the droves, but a good chunk of people who drop cable keep the Comcast internet (I'm actually one of those people). So, now all these former cable subscribers are streaming everything, and more and more 4K content means larger and larger data usage per month. How does one cash in on that trend and try to recoup some of the cable subscriber losses? A cap! You stream enough content, or have enough users in a household that can hit some pretty decent usage numbers, and suddenly you're paying as much for just internet as you were for basic cable and internet previously. Add in the massive change to working from home for many people, and it's a perfect potential cash cow.

Like I said... Brilliant. I can tell you from experience that having at least 3 people in a household who stream HD content and work from home with a job that requires occasional transfer of decent size files will likely hit that 1.2 TB cap. I managed to hit it hard when my daughter and son-in-law came and visited for 3 weeks - those 2 and my wife were working from home, we use Sling and the usual streaming services, and we slapped into that cap 2 weeks into their visit. It's deceptively easy to reach.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 293   +242
It's amazing that countries that the American President has called S**T countries could have better and cheaper internet ,
I mean we look on - as see cheap consumer prices LG 65inch OLED for say 1500

did we see this , health invoices of say $3000 even if you have insurance .
just incredible - I think the rest of us are happy to be communists .
Here in NZ on the edge of the world - 2 main islands , mountain ranges etc , low consumer base - unlimited internet - I also unlimited data on my phone ( slows down after 10Gb - Never use it )
 

onetheycallEric

Posts: 223   +42
Staff
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.

Alright, come on out Ajit Pai -- the gig is up.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,334   +1,216
All current data cap implementation conveniently ignores the fact that bandwidth cost is very different during peak and off-peak...If they really want to justify data cap on cost, they should have different pricing during peak and off-peak.
For backbone service for large data consumers, this is already done. But at the consumer level, the congestion happens during the so-called "last mile". The peak time there is different for every area, all the way down to the level of a single subdivision or apartment building, and even within that area, can change on a day-by-day basis. Some ISPs actually did experiment with peak-pricing models back in the late 2000s, but those tended to generate more consumer complaints overall, due to the complexities of understanding exactly how they were being charged, and did little to reduce congestion.
 

mctommy

Posts: 388   +119

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.

You hit it in the nail. Most of US internet is a dual monopoly because of infrastructure cost and layout. I mean do you really want 5 companies digging through the land in order to lay down DSL or Cable? So for the most part you have 2 choices: Cable or DSL.

Comcast is just looking at offsetting their loss in tv subscribers with overages from their internet subscribers who are streaming the heck out and/or in a large household.

For wireless subscribers, good luck in hoping to substitute home internet with cellular... anybody who knows the industry, the cost to the wireless carriers is greater in the wireless industry as they have to pay third party for the backbone connection (from cell tower to data center) so very unlikely that you will see a 1.2TB data cap. Heck, you are looking at throttling in the 20-50gb range right now.

 

Vrmithrax

Posts: 1,577   +628
When you took them out to eat, did the restaurants charge you more for ordering additional food for them?

Hey now, don't cloud the issue with facts and your fancy logic! This is the interwebz, ain't no place for things like that here! ;)
 

Toju Mikie

Posts: 178   +159
When you took them out to eat, did the restaurants charge you more for ordering additional food for them?
Bytes are not a finite resource, though. They don't grow on trees, nor can you mine them.
This is a pure cash grab from Comcast.
Over time, Comcast has been making more and more money because a greater percentage is likely going over the data cap. They started the 1TB cap in 2016 and claimed that the median monthly data usage was 75GB per month. Now, in 2020, they claim that the median monthly data usage is 308GB, but they only increased the cap to 1.2TB.
 

TheBigT42

Posts: 524   +429
"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."

No...If there was competition they WOULD NOT be implementing data caps. With competition companies try and make there product more desirable so their customers won't go to other vendors. Data Caps are Undesirable.

Go StarLink
 

wujj123456

Posts: 49   +23
TechSpot Elite
For backbone service for large data consumers, this is already done. But at the consumer level, the congestion happens during the so-called "last mile". The peak time there is different for every area, all the way down to the level of a single subdivision or apartment building, and even within that area, can change on a day-by-day basis. Some ISPs actually did experiment with peak-pricing models back in the late 2000s, but those tended to generate more consumer complaints overall, due to the complexities of understanding exactly how they were being charged, and did little to reduce congestion.
Good point on the last-mile part. Do you happen to have the link to the study/results? I am interested in the details, like the structure of experiment. Depending on how under-provisioned the capacity is, the outcome can certainly change. Time-of-use is pretty much the standard for electricity, and most people seems to understand it fine. Sure, if we go with the AWS pricing model, no consumer can properly figure it out, but it doesn't have to be that detailed.

With streaming taking over TV, usage pattern could have changed significantly, not to mention the bandwidth composition is totally different 20 years ago before multi-media took over the Internet. Most researches can only inspect on AS level from public traceable data. The last-mile one is indeed more or less a blind spot. Other than FCC's "Measuring Broadband America" effort I am not aware of other open data that captures the last-mile data.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,334   +1,216
Bytes are not a finite resource, though.
Bandwidth, however, is a finite resource. It costs money to provide. Answer the question I posed earlier. Should the person who consumes 200X the data as the average user pay 200X the cost? Or the same amount? Or some intermediate value? Someone has to pay the cost of that bandwidth. Why not charge the person(s) most responsible for using it?

Over time, Comcast has been making more and more money...
In 2012, Comcast's net profit margin was 12%. Last quarter, it was below 10% That doesn't sound like a company wringing extra profit from its customer base.

They started the 1TB cap in 2016 and claimed that the median monthly data usage was 75GB per month. Now, in 2020, they claim that the median monthly data usage is 308GB, but they only increased the cap to 1.2TB.
And what exactly do you believe these values reveal? For network congestion, standard variance is as important a metric as median usage. Comcast says that less than 5% of their (non-Gigabit Pro) users exceed that 1.2TB cap. Based on average data rates for streaming services and video calls, the figure seems accurate.
 

PEnnn

Posts: 611   +581
" 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"

That's so incredibly generous of them!! I am amazed this leech of a company gets away with this.

PS: As usual, the designated forum shill for ISP scammers is hard at work again. We all know who he is by now.
 

Toju Mikie

Posts: 178   +159
Bandwidth, however, is a finite resource. It costs money to provide. Answer the question I posed earlier. Should the person who consumes 200X the data as the average user pay 200X the cost? Or the same amount? Or some intermediate value? Someone has to pay the cost of that bandwidth. Why not charge the person(s) most responsible for using it?


In 2012, Comcast's net profit margin was 12%. Last quarter, it was below 10% That doesn't sound like a company wringing extra profit from its customer base.

And what exactly do you believe these values reveal? For network congestion, standard variance is as important a metric as median usage. Comcast says that less than 5% of their (non-Gigabit Pro) users exceed that 1.2TB cap. Based on average data rates for streaming services and video calls, the figure seems accurate.

I'm fine with metered home Internet usage, but Comcast would never do it. If Comcast were to charge something like 10 cents per gigabyte, they would not be happy because of the light users only paying like $5-$10 a month for home Internet.

Regarding the less than 5%, you see that percentage is going up. Back when they started the 1TB cap in 2016, they claimed less than 1% were going over the 1TB cap. Their definition of "heavy users" is including a higher percentage of users now. That percentage is probably going to continue to rise, categorizing a greater percentage of users as "heavy users."
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,334   +1,216
Good point on the last-mile part. Do you happen to have the link to the study/results? With streaming taking over TV, usage pattern could have changed significantly
My information is from work a decade ago from one major provider only, and while you raise a good point about changing usage patterns, I don't believe the conclusions should be substantially different, as it's predicated on basic queuing theory and industry overprovisioning ratios that likely haven't altered much. I will see if I can find something of interest to you and post back here if so.

I'm fine with metered home Internet usage, but Comcast would never do it. If Comcast were to charge something like 10 cents per gigabyte, they would not be happy because of the light users only paying like $5-$10 a month for home Internet.
Such a pricing model would necessarily be similar to one used by natural gas providers, who charge a large flat fee regardless of usage, plus a per-therm charge after that. One covers the infrastructure cost; the other the gas itself.
 

nnguy2

Posts: 267   +520
There's always that one a***ole that will defend anti consumer practices in the name of capitalism
 

Axil00

Posts: 64   +75
Again -- what's the beef?

Lack of competition. If the government is going to let comcast use the utility easement on my property, they can tell them where they can shove thier data cap.

Comcast in particular has shelled out massive amounts of money to local governments to keep other cable providers from encroaching on their markets.

The last place I lived was pretty close to the town line. On my side of the line the comcast bill was $50 more expensive.

You know what the difference was? The other town had a cable competitor. My town had a very nice park with a sign thanking comcast for thier donation.

TLDR: in a captive market you dont get to use the "what the market will bear" pricing scheme.
 

Khanonate

Posts: 188   +49
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?
You work for comcast?
 

Thanthan

Posts: 57   +103
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.
But this isnt something that comes from those People? This is something that comes from the part of america that feels paying for monopolies by way of financing politicians is fine and a #PartOfTheFreeMarket. Youll notice that this sort of thing doesnt happen in the EU, where we generally have much more aggressive govern ment regulations. Its almost like regulating large companies somehow stips them from exploiting their customers...
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,334   +1,216
This is something that comes from the part of america that feels paying for monopolies [is] fine. Youll notice that this sort of thing doesnt happen in the EU, where we generally have much more aggressive govern ment regulations.
You'll rather unaware of the situation in your own part of the world. For brevity, I'll supply just one example.

France: Orange SA (which, until a couple decades ago was the state-owned monopoly France Telecom) still controls nearly half of the fixed broadband market, a larger market share than any in the US. As for mobile, there will still many rural areas with only 3G access and (as of 2019 at least) a few isolated areas with only 2G. France just began 5G rollouts in November 2019, a full 18 months behind the US.

As for a pricing comparison between France and the US (and ignoring differences in geography and population density) France achieved its current status through several government financing programs, the latest of which is their so-called très haut débit, a 20 billion public program that costs each French household roughly a thousand euros in additional taxes.

In fact, most EU nations are financing their broadband buildouts through government handouts. That gives the ignorant consumer the illusion of paying lower rates, and

There's always that one a***ole that will defend anti consumer practices in the name of capitalism
There's always that one person, you mean, who understands enough economic history to realize that government intervention is the true anti-consumer practice. What you advocate is a textbook example of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

You work for comcast?
No.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,334   +1,216
Lack of competition. If the government is going to let comcast use the utility easement on my property, they can tell them where they can shove thier data cap. Comcast in particular has shelled out massive amounts of money to local governments to keep other cable providers from encroaching on their markets.
What you describe is a very real problem, but what you don't realize is that those government mandates were sold to voters under the guise that eliminating competition and regulating cable providers as a monopoly would lead to lower prices and better service -- the same argument for regulating water and electricity utilities. Thankfully, broadband convergence is rapidly making that issue moot. Today, most areas have two or three competitors, and in five years time, most US customers will have also 5G and/or low-latency satellite (viz Starlink) as an alternative to fixed broadband.

But your point is not relevant to the issue at hand. Comcast is not placing data caps only in those captive markets where it lacks competitors. It's placing them everywhere, even in areas with the stiffest competition. And its competitors are doing the same. Data caps are a reasonable way to allocate network resources. The people that use the network more should pay more. Period.
 

Neatfeatguy

Posts: 256   +348
I hate Comcast. I've been with them for 15 or so years and I hate them.

Century Link has been in my area for 8 or 9 years now, but they don't offer any rates or performance any better than Comcast and a few people that I've spoken with that switched to Century Link said they see big performance hits during peak hours at times. They didn't have such issues with Comcast.

Last time I had to contact Comcast (Xfinity) was when I wanted the awful TV aspect of some half-as$ed contract deal that expired. It took me 20 minutes of being on the phone with a call center rep and she kept trying to push more TV related crap on me after I told her countless times that I don't utilize the Xfinity TV service I have now and I have no interest in any TV service...I just want to pay for cable modem only. My bill went from $59.99 (before taxes) to just over $100 when the "contract" period ended.....once I finally got the stupid TV broadcast removed from my bill, I only spend $49.95 a month for cable modem. As long as the price doesn't get jacked for no reason and I don't have to deal with Comcast customer service, I'll be content with what I have.
 

mctommy

Posts: 388   +119
What you describe is a very real problem, but what you don't realize is that those government mandates were sold to voters under the guise that eliminating competition and regulating cable providers as a monopoly would lead to lower prices and better service -- the same argument for regulating water and electricity utilities. Thankfully, broadband convergence is rapidly making that issue moot. Today, most areas have two or three competitors, and in five years time, most US customers will have also 5G and/or low-latency satellite (viz Starlink) as an alternative to fixed broadband.

Not gonna happen anytime soon with cellular 5G. The technology is not the deterrent, it's the cost of backbone connection to their cell towers that will be cost prohibitive or they will restrict by throttling at very low # - hence why the throttle for most carriers' "unlimited" plans are around 50GB and/or limitation to streaming quality not hitting that throttle - 480p quality does not hit your #.