Comcast unveils new data usage plan in Augusta

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William Wigington was checking his e-mail last week when he noticed something out of the norm.

It was a notification from Comcast alerting the longtime customer that a new policy will set his internet usage to 300 GB of data. Should his household go over the limit, the message warned, he will have to pay for extra storage.

“I feel that we don’t use that much storage,” Wigington said. “But, I feel that they’re punishing the many for the sins of the few. It’s becoming just like the (phone companies), where you now have to pay extra if you want just a little bit extra. They’re going to hit you up for some more money.”

Augusta is one of several Southeastern markets to see Comcast’s new Internet data usage plan.

The cable giant is testing a new policy in Augusta and 13 other national markets that gives its XFINITY Internet customers a flat 300 GB monthly limit of data, but charges an extra $10 for each additional 50 GB used that same month.

The new plan replaces Comcast’s static Internet data cap of 250 GB per month that had been in place from 2009 until 2012. It has since been implemented in Arizona, California, Texas and across the Southeast, including Atlanta and Savannah, Ga.

Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said that only 2 percent of XFINITY customers exceed 300 GB each month. Those who do, though, still want the option to use more data, he said.

“If you’re in that tiny minority of people where you use that much data and you would like to use more, this is now the fairest and most flexible way that we believe we can implement,” Douglas said.

Under the old plan, Douglas said customers who went over 250 GB and didn’t moderate their usage could face suspended service.

Now, customers who hit 90 percent of the allotted 300 GB limit will receive a warning through their browser or e-mail. In an effort to ease customers into the new program, they won’t be charged any overage fees until they exceed the 300 GB level for the fourth time in a 12-month span, Douglas said.

Wigington, who has been a Comcast customer since the company purchased Jones Intercable in the late 90s, said he fears the cap will decrease over time. He said he already pays more than $200 a month for TV and Internet, which includes a few added premiums including high definition channels and extra cable boxes.

“When you set a cap, things have a tendency to migrate downward,” he said. “If they hit a limit where they might start charging me extra, then I wouldn’t have a choice but to complain.”

A recent poll of “heavy data” Comcast customers who use more than 100 GB monthly indicated that 80 percent prefer the new approach to the old plan, Douglas said.

According to a Cisco Systems report released earlier this year, the average global household used 31.6 GB of data per month in 2012. By 2017, that number is expected to more than double to 74.5 GB each month.

Douglas said the median American household who uses XFINITY Internet consumes between 16 and 18 GB per month.

“In order to use that amount of data, one would have to be engaging in a lot of online activity that uses large file sizes, downloading or uploading large number of files, massive amount of streaming ... It could be a very large household with a lot of people, but it’s not typical,” he said.

Comcast isn’t the only cable company to experiment with new data plans. Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Charter Communications have all experimented with usage caps in recent years.

Augusta Internet provider WOW!, however, isn’t currently toying with the idea. Abu Khan, the company’s Augusta vice president and general manager, said in an e-mailed statement that WOW! does not plan to introduce such policies in the near future.

“At this point we do not feel the need to limit our customers’ usage, but if usage across the board puts pressure on our networks, we may have to do so,” he said.

DATA USAGE PER MONTH

300 GB: 64 two-hour HD streamed movies plus 145 hour-HD TV show downloads

6.5 GB: 100 one-player hourly games plus 100 massive multiplayer hourly games

29.3 GB: 500 Web site visits for 20 minutes each

5.9 GB: 100 three-minute song downloads plus 100 hours of streamed music

44.1 GB: 500 20-minute voice calls plus 500 20-minute video calls

.2 GB: 3,000 text e-mails sent and received plus 500 image or HTML e-mails sent and received

Comments (22) Add comment
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wildman
988
Points
wildman 12/03/13 - 06:02 am
10
0
Comcast

The end result is your bill will go up. Comcast continues to meet the low standards they set for themselves. Moved on!

wribbs
373
Points
wribbs 12/03/13 - 07:39 am
5
4
If you come even close to

If you come even close to exceeding that amount of usage, you really need to reevaluate how much time you spend sitting surfing the Internet and watching TV. How do you have time to work or do anything around the house? Wow.

Riverman1
79221
Points
Riverman1 12/03/13 - 07:47 am
8
1
They KNOW Usage Projected To Increase

A household with two teens and two adults can use a lot of data, especially now with smart TVs and phones using WiFi. If the cable companies KNOW internet usage is projected to increase they are simply preparing to increase everyone's bill.

scoobynews
3771
Points
scoobynews 12/03/13 - 08:35 am
6
1
My suggestion DSL which works

My suggestion DSL which works fine and Directv. Nothing works better than going with the competition.

Riverman1
79221
Points
Riverman1 12/03/13 - 09:12 am
6
0
Scooby, isn't DSL much slower

Scooby, isn't DSL much slower than cable internet?

resident
470
Points
resident 12/03/13 - 09:37 am
6
0
How about phone usage

If you have your phone through them guess what those count against your usage number. How much telephone usage adds up to this amount as well All you bundled people can count on adding this number to your count as well.

griff6035
3902
Points
griff6035 12/03/13 - 10:22 am
4
2
Comcast

Did you know that they own controlling interest in NBC Universal which owns NBC/CNBC/The Weather channel/USA cable/The Golf channel, an others but the worst an most despicable one is MSNBC. They allow this channel to spew out its garbage day after day. Just for this, I would never subscribe to Comcast. JMO.

bdouglas
4437
Points
bdouglas 12/03/13 - 11:16 am
5
1
@resident Phone usage does

@resident Phone usage does NOT count against your internet usage data cap if you're using Comcast phone service. Nor does any OnDemand viewing on your cable box. The only thing that counts is internet usage. Now, if you're using Vonage, OOMA, MagicJack or any other sort of VOIP phone service other than Comcast, then yes, it would count against your usage. But voice service makes up a tiny, tiny fraction of your bandwidth usage. An entire month of VOIP phone service probably uses less data than you use in one day of surfing Facebook and watching a few Youtube videos.

LLArms
470
Points
LLArms 12/03/13 - 11:17 am
5
2
Mr. William is being a drama

Mr. William is being a drama queen. I wonder if he even knows how much internet usage it would take to exceed 300GB? I'll say it if no one else has. 1% of customers probably legitimately exceed the 300GB limit, the other 99% are probably hosting a file sharing torrent of one kind or another and pirating various pieces of software, movies, and shows.

Yea I went there and those of us who are PC nerds know it.

dampier
13
Points
dampier 12/03/13 - 11:22 am
6
1
Another Comcast Ripoff

We've tracked usage caps and have been fighting them across the country since 2008. Comcast is a particularly bad offender, claiming originally they needed them to combat congestion, but later admitting that wasn't the issue at all. They tell their shareholders the same thing AT&T and Verizon Wireless tell theirs: usage caps and consumption billing are about future earnings and profits. Usage is growing exponentially, so although 300GB sounds like a lot right now, it won't be a few years from now. Your bill will reflect that, of course.

Comcast already enjoys a gross margin of 90%+ on their broadband service, which costs the company comparatively very little money to provide on a platform designed for analog cable television. Amazingly, they keep increasing prices on Internet access despite the fact their financial reports clearly show the costs to provide it are plummeting. But in an era where cable TV cord cutting is becoming a growing problem, Internet access is now a must-have product for many Americans, so Comcast can charge what it likes and protect its fat profit margins.

Comcast does not need its 300GB usage cap or an overlimit fee that charges you $10 for 50GB when it costs them around $0.50 for that traffic.

Your best bet to stop this practice is do what people in Rochester, N.Y. and Greensboro, N.C., did when Time Warner attempted to impose usage caps: people protested in front of the local cable office. Just a few dozen protesters attracted enough attention for TWC to shelve usage caps for their subscribers... nationwide.

Comcast just told shareholders last month people seem to be accepting the new usage caps because nobody is complaining about them. If that is the case, welcome to your new world of rationed Internet. If it isn't, get organized and protest.

Phillip M. Dampier
Editor, StoptheCap.com

bdouglas
4437
Points
bdouglas 12/03/13 - 11:28 am
4
1
I am a HEAVY internet user

I am a HEAVY internet user compared to most folks, with quite a few connected devices in my home. I don't stream movies with Netflix or anything (only occasionally through Amazon), but I do watch football games using ESPN's app when they aren't on TV. I consume lots of YouTube and Vimeo videos and transfer lots of photos with my photography hobby. The most data I've ever used in a month on Comcast was just 30GB. Like wribbs said, if you're using more than 300GB in a month, you have other far worse issues.

dampier
13
Points
dampier 12/03/13 - 11:34 am
3
1
Traffic

@LLArms: Your facts are in error.

In November, Sandvine found at least 53% of all Internet traffic is now streaming video. Netflix represents the lion's share of that traffic at 31.62 percent. YouTube trails with 18.69 percent but still accounts for the second-highest amount of traffic. These two websites now account for more than half of all downstream traffic.

I am not sure who you hang with to give you the impression that peer-to-peer file traffic and copyright theft account for the majority of broadband traffic. It's plainly wrong. In fact, P2P traffic is now plummeting as a percentage of usage. Although you may know a lot of people who engage in illegal downloads, the vast majority of Internet users don't and are not engaged in this activity.

Bittorrent's downstream traffic (which is primarily illegal file sharing) continues to decline sharply, now at just 4 percent of the total.

We've found the biggest reasons consumers exceed caps include:

1) They are using a cloud storage file backup service;
2) They are streaming a lot of HD quality video and have multiple viewers in the home;
3) They are telecommuting and require considerable bandwidth and also embrace teleconferencing;
4) They are running cutting-edge video game applications which require frequent, extremely large software updates.

In most cases, it is a combination of one or more of these, often in a four-person household, which delivers usage above 300GB, which can be easily accomplished without breaking any laws.

Sandvine: https://www.sandvine.com/trends/global-internet-phenomena/

nocnoc
38306
Points
nocnoc 12/03/13 - 11:45 am
1
1
A few things I'd like the ARC commissioners hold COMCAST to

Opening another full service office in another part of the county.
(Suggestion: Windsor Spring & US-25)

Instead of driving over 25 to 30 miles like some in Blythe, McBean, Hephzibah customers, just to replace equipment or speak to and Understanable English speaking, in the USA, representative. The South Side has about 45% of the ARC population and why shouldn't we expect FULL service over here also? Since we buy a Franchise fee of @$60 a year. ($5x12) already give what we paid for.

Fee's are too high.
Timely Service is next to none.
Monthly Bill screw ups are too common.

WOW aka Charter

is slowly coming to the South Side, its prices are lower, and its data speed is as fast as Comcast and 10+x faster that AT&T.

Want to bet once they have competition they find a way to lower the costs?

scoobynews
3771
Points
scoobynews 12/03/13 - 11:47 am
3
1
I have used DSL with

I have used DSL with playstation 3 and Netflix. Never had a problem.

justthefacts
20325
Points
justthefacts 12/03/13 - 11:59 am
2
1
Not close

I checked. I thought I might be close. Light years away from 300GB.

nocnoc
38306
Points
nocnoc 12/03/13 - 12:19 pm
3
1
I use the I-net a lot

I stream about 12 to 14 SD movies and 20 or so SDTV shows using ROKU or Rabbit-T a month. Toss in some remote access home Security Video. email, and technical research.

I use between 120GB to 130 GB a month.
250GB was plenty
300GB has a good safety margin.

But with that said,
I feel it should be unlimited bandwidth, but priced by 3 rate
tiers. Residential, Government and Business.

Plus Comcast Civilian customers should receive 100% of the $$$$ Comcast gets selling or allowing access to customer data info by various agencies.

jmb578
94
Points
jmb578 12/03/13 - 12:42 pm
4
0
It doesn't make sense

If only 2% of Comcast customers exceed the 300GB cap, why do they need a cap in the first place?

LLArms
470
Points
LLArms 12/03/13 - 12:47 pm
2
0
If only 2% of the population

If only 2% of the population are thieves, why do they need laws in the first place?

Yes, the question is silly, but maybe you'll get the validity of it. :)

LLArms
470
Points
LLArms 12/03/13 - 12:49 pm
4
1
Also, the one reason you can

Also, the one reason you can never win the argument; this is a free country. You are welcome to sign up for service from any provider with no gun held to your head. Don't like the caps or pricing? Then find another provider. Don't like any of the local providers? Then drop the service completely. But we know people simply cannot do that. Taking responsibility for ones choices should be the job of the government. Right?

my.voice
4654
Points
my.voice 12/03/13 - 01:08 pm
2
0
STORAGE? Its not storage, its

STORAGE? Its not storage, its usage.

GuyGene
1215
Points
GuyGene 12/03/13 - 05:59 pm
1
0
We need more competition

Where I live, Comcast is the only option. And we absolutely must have internet for our work from home. I made an antenna out of PVC pipe and wire for TV (good old redneck engineering!), but we must also have wired phone line, so use Comcast phone too. I think in today's economy, most people must have internet (no use to say "broadband" anymore, that's assumed). Before moving to rural Columbia County, we had ATT DSL and it worked great! As fast as Comcast for our uses, and reliable. But, like I said, no other option here. Even though about 6 years ago, ATT buried a fibre optic cable 1/2 mile from our house! I see those Columbia County fibre optic internet signs all over nearby us, but alas, we are still doomed to use only Comcast! I might stay with them even when I do have an option, I just want a choice!

Discussionstarter
467
Points
Discussionstarter 12/07/13 - 01:45 pm
0
0
Comcast is way too expensive

And I see more rate increases coming!

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