On Thursday, Comcast announced that it will be testing a tiered, allotment approach to Internet data and will eventually do away with the current, absolute 250 GB data cap.
In its blog, “ComcastVoices,” the company explained the new policy. In part:
In 2008, we announced an Internet data usage policy that allowed residential customers up to 250 GB of data usage per month. It was widely recognized that this was far above any normal (including very heavy) residential use of our high-speed data service, and in fact, that remains the case today…
Importantly, we have consistently treated all video carried over the public Internet the same whether it comes from our sites or anywhere else on the public Internet. XfinityTV.com, nbc.com, Hulu, Netflix or YouTube, and every other Internet video site (whether our site or a third-party site) is treated, and will continue to be treated, exactly the same. That’s consistent with FCC rules and consistent with what we have always done and continue to do….
So as the market and technology have evolved, we’ve decided to change our approach and replace our static 250 GB usage threshold with more flexible data usage management approaches that benefit consumers and support innovation and that will continue to ensure that all of our customers enjoy the best possible Internet experience over our high-speed data service….
The first new approach will offer multi-tier usage allowances that incrementally increase usage allotments for each tier of high-speed data service from the current threshold. Thus, we’d start with a 300 GB usage allotment for our Internet Essentials, Economy, and Performance Tiers, and then we would have increasing data allotments for each successive tier of high speed data service (e.g., Blast and Extreme). The very few customers who use more data at each tier can buy additional gigabytes in increments/blocks (e.g., $10 for 50 GB).”
While some may object to a tiered model with incremental pricing that replaces a flat rate, the gist of the Comcast announcement is that the new, lowest tier level of 300 GB is so vast that most users are unlikely to exceed the basic rate. In addition, the incremental rates allow heavy users to pay as they go rather than be penalized or threatened with loss of service.
The new policy will be tested and rolled out over the next few months.