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Comcast Is Putting a Monthly Data Cap on Home Internet

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Get ready for your home Internet to feel like your smartphone — bound by data caps, a large overage fee waiting to happen. Comcast gave some users the bad news Thursday. Consumers who exceed 300 GB in a month will have to pay for overages at $10 per 50 GB tier.

Not surprisingly, they have the option to pay an extra $30 to get the service they have currently, without caps.

Internet service providers like Comcast have been chomping at the bit to change their business model and charge consumers by the bit the way wireless providers do. Comcast’s initial allowance seems generous — some notes sent to users say it’s unlikely they will hit the cap based on their prior usage — but it’s easy to imagine that’s temporary. The Internet keeps birthing high-bandwidth applications like streaming HD video. Users may ultimately run into these caps. And there’s nothing to prevent Comcast from lowering the limit going forward.

“An important update about your XFINITY Internet service,” the email reads. “We’re writing to let you know that we will be trialing a new XFINITY Internet data plan in your area. Starting October 1, 2015, your monthly data plan will include 300 GB. We will also trial a new ‘Unlimited Data’ option that will give you the choice to purchase unlimited data for $30 per month in addition to your monthly Internet service fee.”

The news comes with some “courtesy” concessions from Comcast.

“We’re … implementing a three-month courtesy program. That means you will not be billed for the first three times you exceed the 300 GB included in the monthly data plan,” the email says. “If you are on the 300 GB plan, we will send you a courtesy ‘in-browser’ notice and an email letting you know when you reach 90%, 100%, 110%, and 125% of your monthly data usage plan amount.”

If you haven’t seen one of these emails, you can learn more about the data usage trials at Comcast’s website.

On its FAQ page about the new usage fee, Comcast describes it as a trial, and says it impacts consumers in the following areas: Huntsville and Mobile, Alabama; Tucson, Arizona; Fort Lauderdale, the Keys and Miami, Florida; Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah, Georgia; Central Kentucky; Maine; Jackson and Tupelo, Mississippi; Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; and Charleston, South Carolina.

Want to see if you are part of the experiment? Here’s a page listing all the ZIP codes.

For some time, Comast has been including usage statistics on consumers’ monthly bills, which hinted at this move.

Tolled home usage can be bad news for consumers who end up being forced to download streaming video they don’t want, like auto-play videos from sites like ESPN.com. That data, which already eats into consumers’ mobile data limits, will now eat into the limits they face on their Internet usage.

I reached out to Comcast for a comment, but haven’t heard back yet. (Update: Comcast responded.)

“These trials are based on principles of fairness and flexibility,” a representative with Comcast told me Friday. “With 10% of our customers consuming half the data that runs over our network, we think it’s fair that those who use more data pay more and that those who use less data also have a chance to save some money. For light data users on our Economy Plus tier, the can opt in to a program that gives them a $5/month discount if they use less than 5 GB of data per month.”

Here’s what firm spokeswoman Mindy Kramer told the Sun-Sentinel:

“To put things in perspective, 300 GB is an extremely large amount of data to use. The medium data use for our customers is 40 GB per month; about 70 percent of our customers use less than 100 GB per month. … About 92 percent of our customers will see absolutely no impact on their monthly bills,” said Kramer in an email. “Our data plan trials are part of our ongoing effort to create a fair, technologically-sound policy in which customers who use more data pay more, and customers who use less pay less.”

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  • Palidd

    Yay for going backwards!

  • Robert Cook

    Feels odd. I’ve been dealing with this set up for 2 years. It’s no experiment for me.

    I’ve gone over the cap once, a year ago, and came to 90% last month. So it hasnt really effected me.

    • DefToneR

      Then, not ever share your wifi password with friends, if you are at 90%, may be some friend will update some app on the phone and PUM 10 u$.
      Or may be there is a new serie taht you love to see in HD on netflix.,,

  • Curtisk

    The reason Comcast says that only 10% are going over the data cap is because those 10% are the younger cable TV cutters who stream through Netflix, Hulu and other online media. Comcast knows that by doing this they can hopefully stem the tide of cord cutters since it has increased and seems more attractive given how much companies like Comcast have been milking customers year over year with made up tacked on billing charges and equipment fee increases. To be honest, I myself will cut the cord and do away with TV. It’s way too expensive to have to be subjected to all the commercial filler. Why should I have to pay to watch commercials??? It’s time to cut the cord people and say “we have had enough!”

    • Joseph Mentor Nichols

      I haven’t paid for cable in years. There are streaming sites everywhere that allow you to watch your favorites shows when you want to and all in HD. Going back from episode 1 of season 1 all the way to episode 30 of season 10. Commercial free is the way to be! Screw Comcast. I don’t need internet either I can connect my mobile devices to my HDTV just as easily as I can a Modem.

      The only thing I miss out on is a few online games that aren’t doing my body any favors in the long run.

  • Denise Kennison

    But if you’re still under an agreed contract they can not make you pay that fee till you renew, or it’s up!!

  • John Edwards

    Old news. They’ve been doing this for years now.

  • Sean O’Casey

    And it begins…

  • Stanford McDonald

    “300 GB is an extremely large amount of data to use” This is not true, if you get a 50Mbit connection from comcast that is only 13 hours of full speed usage in 30 days. A netflix movie at HD quality is 2.3GB an hour. If you watch 4 hours a day you will reach the cap, this is comcast’s main target. They don’t want netflix or any of the other streamers to cut into their business. This is not a capacity issue it is a monopoly issue. Comcast has a stake it now only how content is delivered but are content owners through Universal Studios and NBC. You have to remember that regular cable that comes to you set-top box is not analog it’s a data stream just like netflix except it’s broadcasting a 100 channels at 5.8GB an hour for each channel. Comcast has plenty of infrastructure and the gear needed has never been cheaper. A 10Gb network port, which can carry 1,666 Super HD Netflix streams, cost $39K in 2001 then $4K for 2009 , $1K 2013 and today just $500. A subscriber pays for several of these ports a year!

    • http://coolreel.com CoolReel.com

      Megabits and Megabytes, just like Gigabits and Gigabytes, are two separate units of measure .

      (300 gigabytes) / (50 megabits) = 48 000

      • billyhill88

        Unless he edited his post, then his math is dead on correct. How many hours are in 48000 seconds?

        • dainbrammage

          1440 minutes in 24 hours or 86400 seconds per day

          1 hour = 60 minutes or 3600 seconds so 480000sec / 3600sec = 133.33333 hours

          30 days = 720 hours so 133.33hours / 30 = 4.4 hours a day

          Also for the record their stinking data cap is an aggregate UL DL count not just download…… So if you upload anything that counts against you also. This has nothing to do with fairness as their “press” release states or as a previous poster stated. It has everything to do with these greedy a-holes gouging joe public for the holy grail of increased MRC for the exact same crap service. And they are a dumb pipe no matter what they think they are a dumb pipe. Who needs or even wants stupid home shopping channels and the like and there 20 to 30 channels of “streaming music” what a joke. bogus equipment rental charges etc etc etc CUT THE CORD YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT.

      • locust415

        Dude its only by a factor of 8. Okay, relax buddy. This is not exact but a estimate. I work in IT and he is right that the cost of this is lower. That is the idea, lower operating cost but push higher bills. Comcast is doing this because the number of cable cutters have gone up and they will not take a profit loss. So they will use their monopoly power to control your content online. Comcast is still operating on very outdated technology. ISP around the world are getting fiber to near doorstep of people homes. We still got miles and miles and miles of copper running to people homes.

    • http://coolreel.com CoolReel.com

      Redo your math, you did thinking 50Megabits was 50Megabytes – huge difference.

      300 GigaBYTES divided by 50 megaBITS = 48,000

      • John Lalani

        Who the hell cares about the math of units. This is a monopolized business strategy & they won’t get away with it. I & a lot of others will spread the word & Comcast won’t see a penny from anyone. Netflix is a heavy data using app, there’s your math. Net neutrality should be about speed & unlimited data for home use. They implemented this where there is absolutely no competition. The FCC will be under heavy weight. If not then it’s left to the new president to appoint a non lobbyist bureaucrat.

        • kagil

          It is not just the steaming video they are going after, but home security products that use Amazon’s cloud or other servers than Comcasts.

      • W84me2p

        McDonald’s math is correct. At 50 Megabits per second, it takes between 13 and 14 hours to download 300 GigaBytes of data.

    • Sandi

      I looked at my account and we use 2000 gb a month. I am paying $75 for internet why should I pay an extra $30???

      • Tammy Britt Medina

        Wow! I agree with you. They should make an unlimited plan!

        • DefToneR

          Ehm, the unlimited plan is any plan +30 U$S…..

        • his friend

          or they shouldn’t have data caps since they are already recording record profits and there is no reason for them to cap anything other than the need to make more money. They are full of [redacted] saying that they run out of bandwidth. Really what they need to do is upgrade their infrustructer like they are supposed to. Back in the day the government updated it until the cable companies said no no we will do it and pass the savings on to consumers which they never did either of them. Ever notice those extra taxes they put on the bill. Yea thats supposed to be to upgrade infrastructure. In this day in age we should have access to low cost fiber yet these companies are clinging on to the cable box and low speeds. Steps in the wrong direction.

      • Jaggikinz

        It’s so funny to read you folks whining about this when you use 2 TB a month of data. I have been stuck 500 feet away from cable internet for 16 years now, and they will not run it at that distance, so I’m forced to use satellite internet and limited to 10GB of data per month. It amazes me how people just don’t realize that there is a very large portion of the country that does not live in a major city, and cannot get real broadband internet at all.

    • DefToneR

      I dealing with this for months. I did 2 workarounds:
      1- Find a friend that doen’t use internet too much (or a family member) ask for user and pass, connect to xfinity wifi, so you use her/his quota.
      2- I share 4g data from my phone. So I download from there or I connect my tv to my android to use netflix. I work as IT Security Researcher, so I use internet for real, but my biggest consume come from netflix/online stream (house of cards 4k episodes consumes 25gb….) In near future I will be on the “unlimited plan” for 30 U$S more. I don’t have other ISP in my zonq, Just comcast or AT&T, that they are the same s….

    • Victor

      It’s so funny you get 5$ discount if u use less than 5 gb really 5 gb???

    • William Donayre

      Nothing but the whole truth , They are trying to keep you away of watching your programs through the internet and buying their cable packages because the trend is to get rid of your cable and watch everything online using smart tvs and internet appliances

  • Steve

    Look at their site 6 mbps internet only $49.95 a month. I have been a customer for 10 years. They raised my monthly rate two consecutive months in a row. When I called customer service the guy said I was a liar and I was given a $24 credit and he would take it back. I told him to go ahead. I am canceling tomorrow, I know it will be a pain but it’s the point. F Them.

  • Kira Kinski

    Personally, it’s ridiculous that Comcast would cap out an Internet connection as it continues to raise bandwidth speeds. Furthermore, if Comcast is going to cap out an Internet connection at 300 GB monthly, then they should cap out cable connections at 300 GB monthly as well. Data bandwidth is cheap, and gets cheaper by the day. So where are our savings? The truth is, Comcast really is afraid of becoming a dumb pipe and is doing everything possible to stave off that day.

  • Jared Ratliff

    What Comcast is doing is perfectly reasonable. We live in America and here businesses must maximize profits to keep shareholders happy and to encourage investing. The real problem here is the lack of choice in Internet service. Every place I have ever lived as only had one internet provider – in other words, there was no choice! But the strangest thing is there are huge amounts of money to be made in providing Internet service, so why doesn’t another company pop up in a given area and say “hey we offer Internet with no data caps! Switch from Comcast today and free activation!” …this doesn’t happen because the government regulates telecommunications so insanely that it is impossible for any competition to develop and have a chance before the big guy just buys them out for five times their start up costs. Supposedly in the best interest of the consumer, government regulators in effect give monopolies to about four big telecom companies. The problem is not Comcast, it is our government.

    • Kyle

      Rather than moaning about it online, take it to the city council and puiblic utitlity comission meetings. Seeing as how they make the rules for those who monopolize the cable plant routes through the manholes and overhead.

    • chitown

      Jared, we do not live in a laissez-faire economy. Our economy has always been based on a mix of capitalism and protecting the consumer’s best interests. Live in reality, not a bad Ayn Rand novel.

  • Danny

    Keep think that it doesn’t affect you because you been within the data cap. Comcast already is a year ahead of you guys. 4K video coming to your home. TV’s and monitors already in production, soon Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services will offer it. Then watch how fast your 300 GB a month plan runs out. Do you have kids? Online gaming? Use social media? You don’t really control what is downloaded on a website.

    I could have a website where I decided that I want 10 videos download so I can keep running them back to back. If you press play or not doesn’t matter because my site is coded to download all of those videos before you hit play. And there is the bandwidth.

    Yes, Comcast is trying to get “cable cutters” a run for their money. They will have it so that you still keep cable and voice service. The kicker is too that the new modems Comcast sends out serve as public hotspots. They say it doesn’t count against your usage but who knows how accurate that really is.

    You can run through 300 GB very fast, watch only 3 to 4 hours of Netflix, Hulu or Youtube and you will hit that max quickly especially if you are heavy on the internet reading blogs with video ads, etc.

    So don’t be fooled just because you don’t use it to capacity yet. Comcast anticipates that majority eventually will and then you will pay extra.

    10 years ago we were fine with aol dial up and 1.5 Mbps DSL. Now it is no longer available.

    • chitown

      To be fair, online gaming doesn’t use much data. Doesn’t take much data to pass player coordinates and event triggers.

      This is more an attack on Netflix users and digital movie downloaders than anything.

      • Jesstin

        Downloading a game is where the issue is for gamers. The average PC/XB1/PS4 game seems to be between 50-60GB each. Download a few games, and you’re at the cap already. Companies are pushing for digital downloads. Not to mention patches and updates for each game. 300GB wont last long at all.

        • kagil

          Getting a PS4 with its updates started putting me over the limit.

  • Lakesha Alston

    300GB is not a very large amount of data to use. I have comcast and I have 3 teenagers who stayed home during the summer. They watch Netflix and youtube via Apple TV. I received messages for 2 months in a row that I exceeded the 300GB. I’ve changed the Netflix password so that they can’t use it as much. I also tried to cancel my cable as we never really watch it. I have cable, internet and phone with Comcast. they told me that my bill would increase $30 per month if I cancel cable due to the “special rate” I have. It’s not too special at $180 per month

    • John Lalani

      They must barely watch netflix or youtube.

    • tpkyteroo

      $180 per month, and you cancel cable would cost you $210 per month? Who are THEY kidding? No it would not! It would cost less, because you would not be paying for cable! I’d also cancel their phone too. Why? You can often get a much cheaper landline. Plus, most people have cell phones anyway, which work in power outages. Landlines don’t. And, if with canceling their overpriced landline and cable cost $30 more, than I’d cancel them and get internet from someone else.

  • raquila47

    We The People have got to stand up to these Cable Cos. They are thieves. It is obvious the FCC will do absolutely nothing, they’re COWARDS. Comcast is Robin Hood in reverse. Take from the POOR. GIVE TO THE RICH……..

  • Robyn Bradley

    This has been going on for at least 2 years. Comcast just changed the date on this information. We are charged for overage every month; $50 extra for 250 GB. We are a family of 5 who streams a few movies… I find it very frustrating to have this cap while most of the country has unlimited usage. Would love to leave Comcast.

  • Robyn Bradley

    This has been going on in some areas since May 2012.

  • chitown

    “With 10% of our customers consuming half the data that runs over our network”

    That’s not how this works. That’s not how ANY of this works. They speak as if data is a consumable limited resource. It’s not. It costs them nothing additional for Joe Schmoe to pass through 50GB of data vs. 5GB, assuming they actually have the proper infrastructure to support their entire subscriber base concurrently (as they should be, lest they be fraudulently misleading them).

  • Aloysio Botello Jr.

    Another factor that Comcast has not mentioned is that most of there boxes need wireless intern to function. so beside paying for a limited internet data, do they take in account the data usage from their cable that we already pay for? its like we are paying double for the same service.

  • Jigzaw

    Thanks, “Net Neutrality” supporters. THIS is exactly why I opposed it to begin with. Netflix and Google won, by being able to use all the bandwidth they want and it’s us who’ll have to pony up for it, instead of them. As it was going to be, Netflix was being asked to pay a bit more for the pipelines to deliver, but they lobbied Washington to make that illegal. So now we get data caps. Cool. As a bonus, the FCC is now in charge of the internet. The same FCC that went into hysterics over Janet Jackson’s boobs. Should be fun when we next have a conservative administration that decides to go after “indecency” on the internet and now, thanks to “Net Neutrality”, the FCC now has the jurisdiction to do so.

    • John

      If companies like netflix had to pay for it, they would have simply passed the cost on to the consumer, either with larger bills or ads. It’s a lose/lose situation for the consumer either way.

    • tpkyteroo

      Net neutrality wasn’t the issue. The issue is that our current rules do not allow competition. I get to vote whether Comcast wins OR Charter wins the cable issue. That is bad for customers because we don’t have the competition. If we could choose between more then one cable company to serve our house independently of the house next door – just like we can for Satellite – we would have better service and less cost.

      The other issue is that comcast is greedy and wants to make tons of money with bad customer service. I have Charter and have no data caps. I also get channels I want to watch for the most part. Comcast wants to show only channels that they own as much as possible, and wants to be hyper-efficiently profitable to the point where it is making billions of $$$ on their customers in any ONE state.

  • NHCitizen

    Checked my account for grins. Last month used almost 600 GB. I’m already up to 120 GB in the first week of October. We cut cable because we were tired of paying outrageous prices for only 5 channels we enjoyed. We use Netflix, Amazon, CBS All Access to watch movies and shows and got an antenna for local channels. I will not go back to cable but I am not happy with this news.

    • Peter Rafeiner

      Exactly, you cut cable as many do.
      A CAP is a way to protect they cable division from Netflix etc !

  • Mafu Le Trekkie

    Charging for something that is essentially limitless is scum of the earth business tactics. This should be illegal.

  • Peter Rafeiner

    That’s a simple tactic to protect their Cable TV business against Netflix, Hulu, Youtube etc.
    Talk about anti-competive behavior.
    I can’t wait for Google to come to South Florida; then it is Bye Comcast FOREVER !

    • demasys

      Why wait. leave comcast now I’m going to January 1st. Show you care by standing your ground rather than simply taking it because people feel they cant wait or do without. That’s why government and businesses get away with so much.

  • Daniel Johnson

    The fact that they are pretending data is a limited resource is down right stupid. Enough with the capitalist gouging!

  • Tammy Britt Medina

    I don’t consider myself a “power-user,” but since I reached 90% of my allotted 300GB on the 27th of the month, I must be. I’m on my computer most of my waking hours. I stream Netflix quite a bit and watch Roku. I even have an Internet telephone that I use from time to time. I sure hope $10 per 50GB is “all” it is. A rep from Comcast told me this morning it’s $50 per 10GB! Maybe I can get by with 350GB per month. Only problem is, my introductory rate is probably going to go up in 11 more months! I don’t like this. Where I’m from, we had Charter Communications and it was only $44.99/month and NO LIMITS!

  • http://HoaxAndChange.com/ John Hames

    Guess that – Net Neutrality Rule was not all it was reported to be!

  • http://fingertipaudio.net DANonamous

    Comcast is Extremely idiotic in their assessment of what Extreme data usage is for a month. Games (updates are usually smaller patches, so not so much affected, but new games, easily into the multiple GB size initially), over Wifi updates for your cellular phone (usually huge Google or MS apps over 75MB each).

    But even that is somewhat occasionally and arguably not that big a deal. What then, is my concern? HD, then later, 4K videos/movies – TV SHOWS.

    And, since Verizon was slapped by the courts to not shut customers off just because they go over an arbitrary limit, and that they must actually give unlimited data when they say unlimited data, the only way is to charge more. In fact Verizon is charging 20 more per month for Unlimited Data customers (starting November 15th in a popup once you login as a customer), likely in a move to get those customers off the teat and onto the Payment Plans.

    Anyone at Comcast who thinks their Economy Tier (no longer exists, btw) will ever get anywhere near below 5GB per month is either too high right now, or are on vacation with those customers.

    Also, make note: this does not affect huge amounts of the US currently. Apparently, the largest data hogs are Southern-most. Why else would these trials be trialed there?

  • gram001

    I do understand that 300 GB is a lot of data, yet my account states I have reached that amount only 11 days into the month, ON WHAT ???? it is impossible, in a household of 4, where 2 are over the age of 40( meaning they barely use data) means that 2 people have used 150GB of data in 11 days, its outrageous !!!!! Everyone works which means out 24hr 16 consists of working and sleeping !! how in the world did we manage to exceed the limit? ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE !!. I keep going back and forth with EXFINITY and they state that all i can do is use their app to estimate how much we use in a month, so they don’t even know where my data is going ..

    Very frustrated with this company I believe I’ll be better off breaking my contract.!

  • fumerop

    Time to dump cable and just do internet. Maybe its time to go off the grid.

  • CapSteveRogers

    If you are a Comcast subscriber and you disagree with these caps, then the solution is to Cancel. That is the only way to get their attention. There are at least two other options for Internet service, and they will be happy to get you connected within days, maybe even hours, of you calling them.

  • Random

    “These trials are based on principles of fairness and flexibility”.
    So why do they not give the user that uses less a discount? Instead they are charging EVERYONE more and most will accept this in fear that they may go over the limit.
    Ads and other unwanted data is what causes the data usage to skyrocket and this will eat up 50% of the data limit.

  • hed1117

    It’s the Jan 5th and I’m receiving notices that my household has used 50% of this month’s quota. We’re 4 people sharing a house, each of whom uses a modest amount of internet daily. One or two of us may stream stuff more than the others – but not 140+ GBs in 4 days!!

    How is this legal?

  • Kely DS

    Hi Ed. My situation with Comcast is very much like yours. I am trying to keep track of my data usage too, since suddenly I have exceeded the 300 GB. Did anyone recommend a software to keep track of the Xfinity Data usage?

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