For families who stream videos, movies and television programming on their devices, look out: In certain trial markets including South Florida starting Oct. 1, Comcast will begin capping data at 300 gigabytes and will charge $10 a month for each 50 GB users go over the cap.
XFINITY users in Miami-Dade, Broward and the Florida Keys can elect to pay a $30 premium if they want to avoid being capped, Comcast alerted its customers on Tuesday. “Note that customers enrolled in the Unlimited Data Option who use less than 300 GB in a given month will still be charged $30 for that month,” Comcast’s FAQ says.
The new data cap will not apply to Gigabit Pro, the 2-gigabit-per-second service introduced in July, Comcast Florida spokeswoman Mindy Kramer said.
“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.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Alex Lopez, a current Comcast customer for business and residential service and an IT consultant, said that the data cap is the equivalent of about 100 hours of streaming television, not unusual usage at all for a family, particularly if they have cut the cord. He worries that Comcast has a near monopoly, in effect limiting Internet access. “We are spending more per household than we ever did, and they keep squeezing us. ... We have worse Internet speed than the country of Latvia.”
Comcast will help customers in trial markets to track their usage through alerts, emails and online notifications and will also provide them with a data usage calculator so people can immediately see their average monthly usage, Kramer said.
In 2012, Comcast initiated a 250 GB monthly cap nationwide, but dropped it in the face of customer outrage. Since then Comcast has been conducting data plan trials in various markets and the $30 a month premium as a price point was tested among heavy data users, she said.
According to DSL Reports, Comcast's usage-cap trials are also underway in Huntsville and Mobile, Ala.; Tucson, Ariz.; Atlanta; Augusta and Savannah, Georgia; Central Kentucky; Maine; Jackson and Tupelo, Miss.; Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville; Tenn.; and Charleston, S.C.
Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.