Comcast has been testing data caps around the country for a few years, and it’s now ready to extend its 1TB limit to 18 locations in the US.
Effective Nov. 1 customers in the following cities and states will be subject to data caps: Alabama (Dothan); California; Colorado; Florida (North Florida, Southwest Florida, West Palm); Southeastern Georgia; Idaho; Indiana (Indianapolis, Central Indiana, Fort Wayne, Eastern Indiana); Kansas; Michigan (Grand Rapids/Lansing, Detroit, Eastern Michigan); Minnesota; Missouri; New Mexico; Western Ohio; Oregon; Texas (Houston); Utah; Washington; and Wisconsin.
It’s already live in more than a dozen regions, as outlined on Comcast’s website.
The company over the summer boosted its residential data cap in test areas from 300GB to 1TB. According to Comcast, “99 percent of our customers do not use a terabyte of data and are not likely to be impacted by this plan.”
You’d need to stream about 700 hours of HD video or 15,000-plus hours of music, play online games for more than 12,000 hours, or upload/download 60,000 hi-res photos to drain a 1TB allotment, Comcast says.
Someone’s always got to be a rebel, though. In instances when a consumer exceeds the 1TB cap, Comcast will automatically add blocks of 50GB to their account for $10 each. Charges, however, will not top $200 per month, no matter how much data you use.
Customers will receive “in-browser” and email warnings when they approach, reach, and exceed a terabyte. As this rolls out, Comcast is offering subscribers two courtesy months; users will not be billed the first two times they exceed a terabyte.
“This plan is based on a principle of fairness,” the Comcast site said. “Those who use more Internet data, pay more. And those who use less Internet data, pay less.”
Detractors, however, argue that data caps are arbitrary and serve only to allow ISPs to serve up high-priced unlimited data tiers. Comcast’s Unlimited Data Option costs an additional $50 per month.
“We’ve always said that as the Internet evolves, we will adjust our service to provide the best experience for our customers,” Eric Schaefer, general manager of Comcast Internet communications, data, and mobility services, wrote in a blog post. “Our data plans position our network to deliver the service all our customers need—where, when and how they want to consume it.”
Comcast first introduced data caps for residential customers in October 2008, following accusations that the company was cutting off bandwidth hogs without warning, kicking off the net neutrality debate that continues today. Comcastditched the 250GB limit in 2012 and replaced it with 300GB limits for certain tiers and regions.
Most ISPs allow you to check how much data you’ve used; Comcast’s tally is available dataplan.xfinity.com. As a point of comparison, a co-worker on Time Warner Cable in New York has used an average of 150GB per month this year by herself, with a high of 244GB in July (swampy summer temps = Netflix binge watches in the A/C). But add in a few Internet-crazy kids, particularly those who like to stream games or watch Netflix in 4K, and it might not take that long to reach 1TB. As a reminder, 1TB = 1,000GB.