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Summary:

It’s getting hard out there for broadband consumers. If Comcast buys Time Warner Cable, four out of five U.S. broadband subscribers will have a data cap.

comcast-TWC

As the government discusses the pending Comcast merger with Time Warner Cable, the latest broadband adoption stats from Leichtman Research Group show that if the deal goes through 79 percent of U.S. broadband subscribers will find themselves under a data cap. Because Time Warner Cable, the third largest broadband provider in the U.S. didn’t have a cap, the acquisition by Comcast would notably change the number of people who will go from unlimited broadband to those who have a cap or pay more the more they download.

Back in April, I did the math on how many people might find themselves facing usage limits on their broadband if the deal went through and came up with a maximum number of 78 percent. This was up from 64 percent prior to the merger. That’s a big jump.

But since April, the major telcos and cable providers (especially the cable providers) have added a total of 1.2 million broadband subscriptions during the first quarter of 2014. We also have gained more certainty in how Comcast planned to divest itself of nearly 4 million pay TV subscribers. It decided to sell certain markets to Charter, which also has a broadband cap, thus, all of Time Warner Cable’s customers will find themselves under a data cap post-merger.

So now, we’re at the new number of almost four out of five broadband subscribers having a data cap. Meanwhile, we’re seeing ISPs add new provisions in the forms of yearly contracts and even AT&T’s new surveillance plans. Broadband, which used to be an add-on service, has become the primary source of revenue for ISPs, and as such, they are monetizing the heck out of it from the consumer side, and eventually by selling the end user’s eyeballs with advertising. Let’s hear it for innovation.

Update: Comcast takes issue with this story noting that it does not have a data cap when one defines a cap as “to place a limit or restriction on (prices, expenditure, or other activity).” Instead the trials of 300 GB per month limits in select areas have been called both a “data threshhold,” and now a “flexible data consumption plan,” that Comcast wants people to know are in trial mode only. Additionally, Comcast’s David Cohen last week wrote in a blog about these flexible data consumption plans, “We’re now also looking at adding some unlimited data plans to our trials.”

So, to be clear, Comcast disagrees that it has a cap, but agrees that it does not offer any unlimited plans. However, one day it might.

  1. Sucks since most of us have to get either TWC or cumcast (lol) Verizon gave up on fios cause it is expensive and they are greedy bastards and google fiber is so slow, we might see it in big cities when wireless hits 1 terabyte a second in 2050.

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  2. I can only hope people learn to wise up and learn to fight back. What’s the point of high speed internet if we’re going to be capped?! Net neutrality is a joke and there is no solution in sight. If companies like this want to start playing games like this I’ll just drop my ISP and spoof macs or buy/build a cantenna. If you’re not sure what either of those means, look em up. It is basically a giant middle finger to these last mile bullies.

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    1. I wish we could drop them, or better yet have a REAL alternative. But a big antenna will only get you TV. Broadband supply is the issue. We have dial up or Comcast/TWC and that’s it.

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      1. He said a “cantenna”. That’s basically a high-gain wifi antenna, to presumably leech off the wifi of other people nearby. They’re cheap and easy to build, usually with used Pringles cans or coffee cans, hence the name.

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    2. Robert Shackleferd Wednesday, May 21, 2014

      lol,, i have done all of these things, fixing to get it cranked back up

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    3. Nice, always looking for a way to stick it to the man, thanks, will build and use. The greed is just getting them money now, their is no future for them, HA HA

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  3. jerome john garcia Thursday, May 22, 2014

    These companies fully admit that about 2% of their subscribers eat most of their bandwidth. So instead of charging the people who use most of the bandwidth, they force everyone have bandwidth caps. Their thinking is that if there are no caps, people will take everything they can get. Like all consumption, this is wrong. For example, Colorado based their tax assumptions on legal marijuana as if suddenly, every adult in the state was going to smoke legal pot. They’ve already had to dial-back tax projections since basically, the people who smoked pot before legalization still smoke pot. Everyone else just goes on with their lives.

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  4. Sounds like Comcast hired the Ministry of Love for their PR department.

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  5. Update : a textbook case on how not to call a cat ” a cap “.

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