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Cable Technology Feature Article

October 22, 2013

Comcast Reworks Bandwidth Caps, Offers Low-Usage Trial Option

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Broadband usage is up: and that’s not exactly a newsflash. But ISPs are starting to finally make moves to accommodate consumers as they ramp up social media, YouTube (News - Alert), online gaming Xbox usage, connected TVs, Netflix, et al. For one, Comcast is rejiggering its Internet plans a bit in some areas, increasing its broadband caps from 250 GB per month to between 300 and 600 GB per month.

On the opposite end of the scale, it’s also trialing a new broadband-light type of option, for users who typically use 5 GB of data or less per month.

The No. 1 U.S. cable MSO said that for XFINITY Internet customers in Huntsville and Mobile, Ala.; Augusta (News - Alert) and Savannah, Ga.; Central Kentucky; Jackson, Miss.; Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville, Tenn.; and Charleston, S.C., the data amount included with all XFINITY Internet tiers will be 300 GB per month.

For heavy users and online video aficionados, there is also the option to buy additional gigabytes in increments of 50 GB for $10 each.

In the Tucson, Arizona, market, Comcast (News - Alert) is increasing its data usage allowance for the Economy tier through the Performance tier from 250 GB to 300 GB. Customers subscribed to the Blast! tier will receive an increase to 350 GB, those subscribed to Extreme 50 will be increased to 450 GB, and those subscribed to Extreme 105 will be increased to 600 GB.

If the customer exceeds the included GB of data, they will be notified via an e-mail and with an in-browser notification that an additional 50 GB has automatically been allocated to their account, and that applicable charges will be applied to their bill.

Meanwhile, Economy Plus customers in those areas (except Tucson), as well as in the Fresno, Calif. market now have access to a trial service dubbed the Flexible-Data Option. Specifically designed for casual or light Internet users, the option provides a $5 credit if a customer’s total monthly data usage is less than or equal to 5 GB per month.

However, if those customers use more than 5 GB of data in any given month, instead of a $5 credit, they would be charged $1 per gigabyte for each gigabyte of data used over the 5 GB that’s included in the plan.

So for example, an enrolled customer who uses 4 GB in a given month would receive a $5 credit on the next month’s Internet bill; but an enrolled customer who uses 7 GB in a given month would be charged $2 ($1 per gigabyte in excess of 5 GB) on the next bill.

Enrollment is optional; if a customer chooses not to join, his or her monthly plan will revert to the standard Internet allotments and pricing.

The Flexible-Data option is just a trial; Comcast said that it will notify participants enrolled in the option if a decision has been made to discontinue it.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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