Comcast restores broadband data caps for Internet subscribers

The data cap increased by 200GB, though Comcast reduced the number of free passes for customers who exceed their allotment.
A Comcast service van. (Photo: Flickr CC)

For several months, communications giant Comcast agreed to a voluntary pledge with competing companies and federal regulators that was intended to provide relief to people working from home and facing economic uncertainty during the COVID-19 health crisis.

The voluntary agreement lifted Comcast’s self-imposed 1TB data limit for broadband subscribers and offered financial relief to customers who were not able to pay their bills.

The pact had an expiration date of June 30, 2020. With the pandemic far from over, some wondered if Comcast would voluntarily extend its agreement for another few weeks or months.

Nope.

This week, Comcast started notifying subscribers that it reinstated the data cap for customers at the start of the month, though the company said it would raise the limit by 200GB to 1.2TB.

Comcast said it made the decision to raise the cap “because our customers are using more data than ever before.”

“Especially now, as more of us are at home, we want to make sure our customers have the data they need,” Comcast said. “There’s nothing you need to do, and this change will happen automatically.”

Comcast said customers won’t be cut off from the Internet if they go over that allotment, but they will be charged $10 for every 50GB of Internet they use. This fee is similar to one Comcast charged customers under the old data cap, though the company said customers won’t be charged beyond $100 extra a month for exceeding that data (the previous amount was $200).

When Comcast first introduced its data cap, it said customers would get two free passes if they exceeded that amount — instead of being charged, they would receive a notification from the company letting them know they went over their allotment.

Starting this month, the company said it would reduce its courtesy notification to juts one notice per month.

Comcast claims the data cap was enough to allow customers to video conference 3,500 hours a month, stream music for 2,100 hours a month or watch around 50 hours of high-definition video (or around 250 two-hour HD movies) per month.

Those who need more data were encouraged to sign up for a new service called “xFi Complete,” which comes with unlimited data and a Comcast-branded modem. That costs $25 a month extra. Customers who want to use their own equipment can also sign up for unlimited data for $30 a month.

Comcast’s broadband data cap doesn’t apply to customers in parts of the country where the company competes with Verizon Fios.

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