Comcast is more than tripling the amount of data many of its subscribers are allowed to use in a month before they hit a cap, the company said Wednesday.
Comcast may be trying to make some preemptive moves as Charter nears approval for its massive takeover of Time Warner Cable. Regulators are instructing Charter to enter new cable or telecom markets as a condition of the deal, and it could lead to direct, head-to-head competition between Charter and Comcast in some regions.
Charter will not be allowed to impose broadband data caps under the conditions regulators are seeking to impose, so if it really happens (and it will) and consumers are given a choice between Charter and Comcast, a sky-high data cap might help Comcast defend its territory.
"Comcast is doing this to remain competitive," said Jeff Kagan, an independent telecom analyst. "If they don't do this, [their] angry customers would end up leaving them, going to a competitor."
The announcement comes as Comcast reported strong growth in its cable Internet and TV business Wednesday. It added 438,000 high-speed Internet customers over the past quarter. That's 7.6 percent more additions to the network than the same quarter a year ago. Most of Comcast's Internet customers, roughly 77 percent, get upwards of 50 Mbps service, the company said.
The new data cap raises the monthly usage limit from 300 GB of data to 1 terabyte (equivalent to roughly 1,000 GB). The change takes effect on June 1, and affects all of the markets where Comcast has been testing data caps — such as Atlanta and parts of Florida — and covers all speed tiers in those markets.
Comcast is also increasing the amount of money customers will have to pay if they want to escape the cap entirely. Previously, subscribers in Florida were asked to pay an extra $30 a month for the privilege; in Atlanta, that fee was $35. Earlier surveys conducted by the company of its heaviest data users suggested that 60 percent of them would be willing to pay between $30 and $40 a month to be exempted from data caps. But the new fee goes beyond that, and is set at a whopping $50 a month.
Comcast said in a blog post that 99 percent of its customers never come close to reaching a terabyte of consumption. "Our typical customer uses only about 60 gigabytes of data in a month," the company said.
Read Article (Brian Fung | washingtonpost.com | 04/27/2016)
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