As we prep for the launch of two new consoles that will allow people to download games that are 30 GB to 50 GB in size, and as new research comes out showing that over-the-top television viewing is rising, it’s worth taking an updated look at how ISPs around the U.S. are trying to implement caps.
We wrote our original chart in October 2012, noting that at that time 64 percent of Americans were covered by a cap at the end of 2011. Today (or rather, at the end of the second quarter) the percent of American broadband subscribers covered by a cap remains the same. However, the caps themselves are changing.
Comcast still hasn’t settled on a particular capping scheme yet, although it is expanding its 300GB capped plan that offers overage charges of $10 for every 50 GB over the limit. Meanwhile, Cable One has changed what was a complex cap scheme that was based on time of day and service tier into a blanket cap determined by the speed of broadband you buy.
AT&T has decided to implement a cap on its gigabit service, although it hasn’t determined what that cap might be. Meanwhile, CenturyLink has decided not to cap its gigabit customers. Time Warner Cable is expanding an opt-in program that offers discounts to users if they accept a cap — a program that Comcast is trialing as well. The Time Warner program is now offering a $5 discount and an $8 discount on its 2Mbps, 3Mbps and 15 Mbps tiers so users who stay below a 5 GB cap get $8 off the retail price, while users staying below 30 GB get $5 off the retail price. These are opt-in plans.
In most cases, the companies implementing caps maintain that 99 or 98 percent of their users don’t go over them and have median usages that range between 12 and 18 GB per month. So here are the top broadband providers in the U.S. and their caps. Last year we included a column for exceptions to the cap, but this year there aren’t any, so we took that column out.
|Comcast||300GB per month||Comcast suspended its cap in May 2012 after raising it to 300GB. It’s unclear what form the cap will take.||Comcast is testing an overage fee that lets you pay $10 for 50 GB more.|
|AT&T||250GB or 150 GB per month||Subscribers to AT&T’s faster Uverse product have a 250 GB cap while those subscribing to basic DSL have a 150 GB cap. The gigabit service will have a higher cap commensurate with its speed.||Customers pay $10 for 50 GB|
|CenturyLink||150 GB per month to 250 GB per month||Plans with speeds of 1.5Mbps have a 150 GB cap. Plans with speeds greater than 1.5Mbps have 250 GB cap.||None, you’re encouraged to move to a higher tier.|
|Cox||50GB-400GB per month||Faster tiers have higher caps.||None, you’re encouraged to move to a higher tier.|
|Charter||100 GB – 500 GB per month||Faster tiers have higher caps.||None, you’re cut off.|
|Suddenlink||150GB to 350 GB per month||Faster tiers have higher caps.||Customers pay $10 for 50 GB after third time going over.|
|MediaCom||250 GB to 999 GB per month||Faster tiers have higher caps.||Customers pay $10 for 50 GB.|
|Cable One||300 GB to 500 GB per month||Caps depend on the type of plan one chooses; Streaming, Premier, Ultra||None, you’re encouraged to move to a higher tier.|