As Comcast Broadband Usage Caps Expand, Company Still Refuses To Admit They Even Have Caps
from the Tomato,-tomahto dept
Like the boiling frog metaphor, Comcast continues to slowly deploy usage caps in a growing number of uncompetitive markets in the hopes that nobody will notice until it’s too late. As noted previously, Comcast has started imposing a 300 GB monthly cap in more than seventeen “trial” markets, after which users have to pay $10 for each additional 50 GB of usage. In a most recent wrinkle, the cable operator has also started offering users the honor of paying $30 if they want to avoid these usage caps entirely. It’s a glorified rate hike on what’s already some of the most expensive broadband in the world.
Amusingly, for some time now Comcast spokespeople have been scolding any reporters that call these restrictions a “usage cap,” in the belief that changing the terminology will somehow fool the public into thinking paying more for the same service is somehow reasonable. No, states Comcast, it doesn’t impose usage caps — it delivers friendly neighborhood “data thresholds” that provide greater “choice and flexibility.”
This week the company’s usage caps went live in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and the Keys, and once again Comcast spokesfolk are making the rounds trying to force journalists to adhere to specific lingo when discussing the plan:
“Charlie Douglas, a Comcast spokesman, argues that its wireless-style plans aren’t a cap. A true cap, he argues, was what Comcast implemented in 2008 when it told users that if they used more than 250 gigabytes per month they would be first warned and then cut off from service. That plan ceased in May 2012. Comcast insists that its offering since then is better described as a “data usage plan.” “We don’t call it a cap,” Douglas says. “We call it a data plan just like wireless companies have data plans.”
Apparently, Comcast believes it gets to unilaterally redefine what a broadband usage cap is, and that the public is too stupid to realize when they’re looking at a rate hike if you just call it something else. Contrary to common wisdom, usage caps don’t really help network congestion, and even the cable industry has admitted caps aren’t about congestion anyway. What are they about? Comcast’s deep-rooted love of fairness, apparently:
“Why would a company that has plenty of capacity on its network need a data plan? It’s not a matter of capacity, Douglas argues, but fairness. “Ten percent of our customers are consuming half of all of the data that runs on our network each month,” Douglas says. “So part of the rationale for all of these trials is this principle of fairness. Those who want to use more pay more, and those who want to use less pay less.”
Right. Except fairness would be simply moving those 10% of users on to business plans if they’re such heavy users, and leaving the rest of the user base alone. Fairness would be truly usage-based plans that let your grandmother pay $5 a month for her thrice-weekly viewing of the Weather Channel website and e-mail use. Instead, Comcast is imposing caps and overages (a rate hike) on all users right on the eve of the 4K and Internet video revolutions, knowing full well most user households will run face-first into the caps over the next few years.
That’s of course because caps aren’t about “fairness” either, they’re about ensuring that Comcast gets to keep revenues fat and bloated as more cable TV customers cut the cord and shift to Internet video. Apparently Comcast believes its users are collectively too stupid to realize this, and that by simply fiddling with basic definitions (it’s not a usage cap, it’s a wholesome family consumption calculator!) the public will nod dumbly and graciously accept one of the biggest rate hikes in Comcast history.