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Summary:

Comcast says it is planning to make sweeping changes to its data usage plans and will start by boosting the data cap from 250 GB/month to 300 GB/month. The change is in response to changing consumer usage behavior and shift to more cloud-oriented computing.

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Comcast says it is planning to make sweeping changes to its data usage plans and will start by boosting the data cap from 250 GB a month to 300 GB a month. The move is in response to changing consumer usage behavior and a shift to more cloud-oriented computing. Comcast, which is the largest broadband provider with around 20 millon customers in the U.S., points to emergence of devices such as iPad and Roku as a reason behind this change.

Comcast first introduced the idea of metered broadband in 2008. At that time, company had come under criticism for being unable to develop a meter to accurately show the monthly bandwidth usage. Since then other U.S. broadband providers have been adding a “cap” to their data accounts and are betting that consumers will pay for additional bandwidth. While this hasn’t become a widespread practice just yet, almost all major companies are toying with limits and additional charges.

The company explained its decision in a blog post, which follows below. If you want our take on the subject and more details, read Stacey’s analysis.

Today, the way people use video and access information has changed dramatically. Four years ago, when we first instituted a broadband Internet data usage threshold, the iPhone had just been introduced…the iPad didn’t exist…and the experience of watching streaming video on your home PC or through a Roku box or direct to an Internet-capable TV was much different than it is now.

While the world was changing, so were we. Over the past few years, we have been an industry leader in innovation — delivering exciting new products to our customers on a regular basis. Our recent announcements about the Xfinity TV app, Streampix, HBOGO, WatchESPN, and Xfinity TV on the Xbox 360 are just a few examples of how we’re using new platforms to deliver new services to a range of consumer devices and screens.

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. (Netflix April 2011 Letter to Shareholders; PC World — ‘Are Broadband Usage Caps Inevitable?'; ArsTechnica: ‘Comcast starts 250 GB bandwidth caps October 1′). With the passage of time, it’s important to remember that the purpose of the usage threshold was simply to ensure that all of our customers were treated fairly and had a consistent and superior experience while using our high-speed data service. That has been and will be our sole goal. We’ve never had any intention to limit the lawful use of the Internet or restrict our customers’ ability to view online video.

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.

We’ve also always said that we would evaluate customer usage and a variety of other factors and make adjustments as the marketplace evolved. Please see our FAQs and a Venture Beat story on this topic. Over the last several years, we have periodically reviewed this policy, and for the last six months we have been analyzing the market and our process and think that now is the time to begin to move to a new plan. This conclusion was only reinforced when, in recent weeks, some of the conversation around our new product introductions focused on our data usage threshold, rather than on the exciting opportunities we are offering our customers.

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.

In the next few months, therefore, we are going to trial improved data usage management approaches comparable to plans that others in the market are using that will provide customers with more choice and flexibility than our current policy. We’ll be piloting at least two approaches in different markets, and we’ll provide additional details on these trials as they launch. But we can give everyone an overview today.

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).

The second new approach will increase our data usage thresholds for all tiers to 300 GB per month and also offer additional gigabytes in increments/blocks (e.g., $10 per 50 GB).

In both approaches, we’ll be increasing the initial data usage threshold for our customers from today’s 250 GB per month to at least 300 GB per month. “

(Via.)

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  1. Thaaaank you more pirated stuff !! yaaaaayyyy

    1. Your IP address has been tracked and the FBI are on route. Please send $400.00 to Viacom (spelled JIM SMITH) to avoid any further action :-)

  2. Keith Townsend Thursday, May 17, 2012

    This isn’t great news but it’s better news. These caps are preventing innovation but I have to admit that innovation is not good for Comcast’s business.

  3. Any time a company says we know what’s best for you, You know your getting screwed. Or it’s my way or the highway. or give me more money.

  4. About time Comcast. Now, if you can only give me stand alone internet (at a decent speed) with forcing me to take your video/tv packages with it to get a lower price. Or better yet, let choose which stations I want to subscribe to Ala Carte. Are we there yet?

    1. I get 15Mbps down for only 60$ a month, that’s not bad at all.

    2. Ralph, you can do that, except you will have to pay a nice “price” hike for that. As for ala-carte, keep dreaming ;-)

  5. Robert Emminger Thursday, May 17, 2012

    Seriously, this data cap crap is killing development of technologies. I don’t care of pirated IPs but it really screawing with BlazeDS/Flex, Silverlight, and other technologies as far as bringing them to rid us of html (html 5 is a joke, a painful slow joke at that). As a developer , I am interested in seeing a replacement of JavaScript/HTML and the security holes it brings and the threat of the telecoms toll gating everything has brought such development to a screeching halt.

    1. Robert

      I totally agree with you. I think they should charge for higher speeds and not use data caps. I have written about it endlessly. Anyway let’s see how this works out…

  6. Note they tell you how much per 50GB overage, but they are not mentioning how much of that money is profit.
    I don’t mind the idea of them charging for additional resource use. I mind that they end up making more than is reasonable doing it. cost + 10-15% would be about right.

    1. Details are coming in a subsequent post, following press conference and more details.

  7. +50gb a month is “sweeping changes”?

    1. Well there are bigger changes they are planning — check the follow up piece.

  8. if i said i killed somebody they would have to find the body, no body no crime, same goes for piracy

  9. This is actually a rather terrible proposal by Comcast, 4.5 years ago now they introduced a 250gig limit(hidden on their site and terms of agreement). I signed up again a year ago and when i did the comcast employees had never even heard of the cap when i mentioned it to them. But i digress, the current 250 gig limit was alright for 2008 but now since almost everything is on the internet 300 gig is supposed to make all the difference (BS). Honestly data usage should have increased each year just like speeds have, if you use Nielsen’s Law of Internet Bandwidth: 2009 = 393gb, 2010 = 616gb, 2011 = 967gb, 2012 = 1,519gb, and 2013 should be 2,384gb. which yes i do believe is a bit out there but should be built for room to grow, even if they just add 100gb a year to account for growth. the answer will be no though because a pay for model is much more profitable.

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