Comcast Plans to Expand Broadband Data Usage Caps in 2021, Angering Some Customers
Starting in January, Comcast will impose data-usage caps on Xfinity Internet customers in areas where it doesn’t already have them in place. Beginning in April 2021, the nation’s biggest cable provider will charge up to $100 if broadband users exceed the maximum monthly allotment — and some Comcast customers are upset about the change.
The new terms affect Comcast broadband customers in 14 states and Washington, D.C., who are not on an unlimited data plan. For those Xfinity Internet users who consume more than 1.2 terabytes of data in one month, blocks of 50 gigabytes will automatically be added for an additional fee of $10 each plus tax (up to $100 maximum). For March 2021, Comcast will give broadband customers “a one-time courtesy month credit” if they go over 1.2 TB, after which those who exceed the cap will pay the surcharges.
“This data plan is based on a principle of fairness,” Comcast says in a notice to customers on its website. “Those who use more internet data, pay more. And those who use less internet data, pay less.”
Meanwhile, Comcast is set to raise prices on TV and internet plans in January, with broadband-only packages increasing by $3 per month.
Comcast’s move to expand the data caps, which it already imposes the 1.2 TB cap in 27 states (listed here), was previously reported by the Verge. The change applies to Xfinity Internet customers in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and parts of North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and West Virginia, according to Comcast’s notice.
On social media, Comcast broadband users complained about the looming data caps.
“Due to the pandemic, millions of people are working from homes,” actor and YouTube creator Stephen Ford tweeted. “We’re using more data than ever. Digital only consoles have just hit the marketplace, most entertainment is through streaming, yet @comcast wants to cap your data even after they promised they wouldn’t.” Another Twitter user wrote, “Guess I’ll be switching to @verizonfios good job @Xfinity you’ll be losing a customer come next year smh.”
Public Citizen, a consumer-advocacy group, tweeted on Tuesday, “This is why monopolies are bad. Comcast can arbitrarily exploit us for profit during a pandemic just because it feels like it. Meanwhile, Comcast collects tons of tax breaks and government subsidies. Comcast should be broken up.”
According to Comcast, about 95% of Xfinity Internet customers consume less than 1.2 TB of data per month and that its broadband users’ median monthly data usage in the past six months was about one-fourth that (308 gigabytes). Most broadband subscribers “are not impacted by this plan – even with the spike in usage as customers are educating and working from home during COVID-19,” the company has said in replies to angry consumers on Twitter.
Comcast claims that “1.2TB is a massive amount of data and you can do a lot with it in one month.” For example, the company says, you can stream about 500 hours of HD video; spend nearly 3,500 hours on videoconferencing; listen to 21,600 hours of music; or play online games for 34,000 hours.
As Comcast has been steadily losing TV customers, its broadband business has been booming.
In the third quarter of 2020, Comcast Cable lost 253,000 residential TV subscribers (to stand at 19.2 million nationwide). At the same time, the company gained a record 633,000 total broadband customers, including 617,000 on the residential side to reach 27.8 million at the end of Q3.
Comcast’s high-speed internet revenue for the first nine months of 2020 increased 8.9%, to $15.2 billion, while video revenue declined 1.8% to $16.5 billion.