Don’t buy Comcast’s spin – its data caps aren’t about ‘fairness’

Comcast’s data caps are ‘just low enough to punish streaming’. In many regions across the country, Comcast this week added Little Rock, Arkansas; Shreveport, Louisiana; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Galax, Virginia, among other cities, to its growing list of regions with broadband data caps.
It is already known from Comcast’s own internal documents that its data caps have nothing to do with managing congested networks. Instead, the company is insisting that these new caps are all about “fairness” — that is, customers who use less data shouldn’t have to pay more per month to subsidize all the “data hogs”. If Comcast really cared about being “fair” to people who don’t use a lot of data, you would think it would give them significant price cuts instead of just charging the “data hogs” more for their usage. By setting up data limits that are just ahead of the curve when it comes to future technologies, Comcast is setting itself up to be the gatekeeper for the kinds of applications that we can use.
In many regions across the country, Comcast has begun testing new tiers of data caps, which start at 300 GB a month and go up to unlimited, depending on the plan. Customers are charged $10 for every extra 50 GB they use over their cap. The company notes that 300 GB is a lot of data, allowing customers to stream 117 HD movies, download 5,500 hours of music, make 86,000 minutes of FaceTime calls, upload 20,000 photos or send 585 million tweets. The median Comcast customer uses just 40 GB of data per month. Just 8% of Comcast customers use more than 300 GB of data each month.
Comcast says it allows customers to track their data usage and receive alerts about when they’re about to hit their cap. When it enforces data caps on new communities, it also forgives overage charges for three months.
But Comcast’s largest competitors largely don’t have caps. Time Warner Cable has experimented with optional data caps, but they have not gained significant traction with customers. Cablevision, Bright House and Verizon FiOS also don’t have data caps, and have pledged not to impose them in the future.

briservDon’t buy Comcast’s spin – its data caps aren’t about ‘fairness’