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Comcast Still Pretending They Don't Have Data Caps
by Karl Bode 10:18AM Wednesday Aug 27 2014
The writing has pretty clearly been on the wall as Comcast slowly but surely has expanded their usage-cap trials throughout less competitive Southern markets. In Comcast trial markets, users pay the same price users in unlimited markets pay, except they get a 300 GB cap, and have to pay $10 for every 50 GB beyond that they travel. Comcast also copied a Time Warner Cable offer that provides a $5 monthly discount off a user's bill -- if they agree to a 5 GB per month usage cap with $1 per GB overages.

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It's very clear Comcast wants to expand these usage caps, raising very questions about how their planned merger with Time Warner Cable could dramatically increase the number of users impacted by caps. Comcast's solution to this while trying to pitch the deal to regulators? Pretend that usage caps aren't usage caps.

Comcast has already unsuccessfully tried this approach with the press, telling tech reporters and bloggers that the company doesn't have data caps, they have data thresholds. The company is continuing this bizarre line of logic in recent filings with the FCC:
“Comcast does not have ‘data caps’ today,” the company wrote this week in a filing with the New York Public Service Commission on its proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable. “Comcast announced almost two years ago that it was suspending enforcement of its prior 250GB excessive usage cap and that it would instead be trialing different pricing and packaging options to evaluate options for subscribers—options that reflect evolving Internet usage and that are based on the desire to provide flexible consumption plans, including a plan that enables customers who want to use more data the option to pay more to do so as well as a plan for those who use less data the option to save some money.
Except that Comcast's offer of $5 off your bill if you agree to a usage cap data threshold doesn't provide much savings, as you'll quickly run into the cap and run up significantly more charges. Comcast's not-so-secret goal is to get users on metered broadband to jack up data prices before the inevitable decline of TV and digital voice revenues (which are just data, after all).

The problem for Comcast? Consumers prefer simpler flat-rate data pricing, and Comcast's trials are largely about figuring out how to market what's effectively an unnecessary price hike so it sounds more attractive. Comcast hopes the press and regulators approving the deal won't realize the potential problems inherent in such a plan if they simply call usage caps -- something else entirely.

86 comments .. click to read

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2 recommendations

reply to 78036364

Re: Caps Are To Kill Internet Video

said by 78036364:

Just checking e-mail and sports scores uses next to nothing. Most of these other uses people use their smartphones for now.

And what about playng that YouTube clip that you got sent, downloading a back up from a remote server, video meetings and remoting into the office. Also multiply that by 2-4 people and you can get maybe 20GB on the low end easy.

The average person watch 150 hours of TV a month. That's 5 hours a day so basically 90% of ones TV watching is Netflix? Does Netflix even have 130 hours of shit worth watching every month?

Or 2.5 hours a day over 2 people or 1.6 for 3 and so on.

Assuming your correct can you blame them? Cable companies should just lose revenue to be nice to you? Cable companies are assholes because they don't want you to have internet only and not TV? How dare they want o make money. I mean this is America our country wasn't founded on the concept that business should try to make profit. Businesses should exist to provide people with free shit. Making a profit is communist.

People are voting with their wallet that they want one thing and rather than change the model to fit that they are throwing a fit to stick with the old one.


East Amherst, NY
·Verizon FiOS

2 recommendations

reply to Jason Levine
The issue is back when comcast dreamed up the original caps back in 2009 they were reasonable because there was no superhd, steam was just getting steam:), there was no XBO or PS4, cloud backup was unknown, youtube was just a baby, music streaming was just getting started, etc.

The problem is the world has changed and 300GB is not even table stakes for an average family anymore.

Also since 2009, intercon costs have gone down dramatically and so has the cost of switching hardware. Sure labor costs have risen, but that has nothing to do with bits coming out of the pipe relativistically... Not to mention DS3.1 is a minor update w/ vast increases in bandwidth.

So comcast gobbles up time warner. Their "scale" as they tout will cause their costs to go down even more.

And that is the result of a monopoly. Charge more offer less.

So while people say merger doesn't matter in fact it does for TWC customers, so now they will have "thresholds" coming where none existed and this overage honeypot comes....

Interestingly enough Canada used to have ultra sky high rates, and then the CRTC came in and mandated third party access. They came up w/ UBB bulk reseller rates based upon peak usage. So guess what happened, the incumbents had to lower rates, and raise speeds. TPIA said, rock it in the evening--no caps because their bill was based on peak (say 6PM) and in the AM torrent or steam away. Oh and UPLOAD, no caps.

How cool is that!

Holy Cable Modem Batman

Washington, DC

2 recommendations

reply to Jason Levine
Yup. I said this almost 5 months ago... »We all knew the real reason for Caps...

And over 5 years ago: »The real reason for the cap ~by IPPlanMan~

Jason Levine

13 recommendations

The real purpose of the caps (or "data thresholds") aren't to manage network congestion. They are to hurt Internet video. Without caps, you could watch as much Internet Video as you wanted and might be able to cancel cable thanks to this. With caps and overages, you are limited in how much Internet Video you can watch before you need to pay more money (to Comcast - thus helping them profit off of their competitors).

With a 300GB cap, you can watch 300 hours of Netflix at Standard Definition and 130 hours at High Definition. This means, if you don't use your connection for ANYTHING else, you can watch around 10 hours of Standard Definition Netflix a day or 4.3 hours of HD Netflix a day. While the SD Netflix seems fine (few people probably watch more than 10 hours of TV a day), the HD Netflix could easily find you hitting your cap. Especially if you use your connection for other purposes besides just Netflix.
-Jason Levine


Clarksburg, WV
·Time Warner Cable

10 recommendations

It's not a CAP its "pay more for less"

They can market speak it any way they want, but you are going to be paying more for less service. Anyone who doesnt see through that is foolish. To think a corporation is doing this for anything except profit is insane.

Oh, and screw you comcast, you giant turd.