Comcast, the nation’s largest broadband provider, has launched the second of its two planned broadband cap trials in Tucson, Ariz. The new caps limit users of its premium tiers at 600 GB per month and economy tiers at 300 GB per month. A day after the trials came to light, Comcast announced that its super fast 305 Mbps service will be available in more cities and a spokesman confirmed that service is and will be uncapped.
The Extreme 305 tier will cost $299.95 per month and will be available in most major markets in its Northeast division. Concurrent with those speeds, users will also get Wi-Fi at 155 Mbps throughout the home, and Charlie Douglas, a Comcast spokesman, says future in-home routers for the Extreme 305 tier will eventually use the new gigabit 802.11ac standard. Current Wi-Fi gear from Comcast uses 802.11n.
But even as it pushes ahead with faster tiers, Comcast is still testing variations on its broadband cap that it first launched in 2008. At the time, the cap was a straight 250 GB per month, but as usage grew and more users hit the cap, Comcast raised the limit to 300 GB per month in May and said it would test out new variations of the cap.
The first of those appeared in Nashville, Tenn. last month with Comcast charging users $10 for a bucket of 50 GB over the 300 GB cap. That rate is fairly common among the ISPs who cap their service — AT&T and SuddenLink charge that much for users who exceed the cap. The Tucson cap is another variation of a common cap — users who subscribe to faster tiers will get higher caps. Here’s what it looks like:
- Economy/Economy Plus, which costs $39.95 unbundled, has a cap of 300 GB
- Internet Essentials, a $9.95 plan offered to select low-income homes, has a cap of 300 GB
- Performance Starter, which costs $49.95 unbundled, had a cap of 300 GB
- Performance, which costs $62.95 unbundled, has a cap of 300 GB
- Blast, which costs $72.95 unbundled, has a cap of 350 GB
- Extreme 50, which costs $114.95 unbundled, has a cap of 450 GB
- Extreme 105, which costs $199.95 unbundled, has a cap of 600 GB
However, because of the pricing in place around the service and the cost of buying a 50 GB bucket, users don’t really get an advantage from switching to a higher tier in order to avoid a cap. In fact, the pricing really doesn’t offer any incentive to choose a higher-speed tier for those solely worried about a cap.