Comcast replaces broadband caps with overage fees

In a case of "good news, bad news", Comcast, the largest residential Internet broadband provider in the US, has announced that it has decided to eliminate the 250 GB monthly broadband data caps for users of its Internet service. In a post on its official blog, Comcast said:

... we've decided to change our approach and replace our static 250 GB usage threshold with more flexible data usage management approaches that benefit consumers and support innovation and that will continue to ensure that all of our customers enjoy the best possible Internet experience over our high-speed data service.

That's the good news. The bad news is that starting in the next few months, Comcast will begin trials on two different Internet data usage polices. Both of them will include overage fees that will add $10 per 50 GB to a customer's monthly bill.

One trial version will simply extend all Internet subscribers to a 300 GB per month limit before the data overages are charged. The other plan will allow people to pay extra per month for the Blast and Extreme subscriber tiers which will increase the data limit.

For those Comcast users who won't be picked to serve as trial subjects, Comcast does has some good news:

In markets where we are not trialing a new data usage management approach, we will suspend enforcement of our current usage cap as we transition to a new data usage management approach, although we will continue to contact the very small number of excessive users about their usage.

In other words, start your downloads. There's no word if Comcast will be changing any of its Internet subscriber prices.

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The past two months I have been around 461GB and 378GB. Although I on average am at about 240-280GB per month.

I do not like the CAP of 250GB. It's not that I need it all the time but I do not feel with Netflix, Hulu, Apple, XBox, Steam and others requires large downloads to obtain their software or stream HD/1080 movies/videos. If you have a family of 4 and children who watch YouTube, Netflex, Hulu and play online games you can run into 250GB pretty easy. I know that it happens as my neighbors were concerned. Comcast never said anything to them about it and they hit over the limit monthly. Not by a large amount of definately over.

Yeah,, baby!!

Let's go straight for the wallet and quit screwing around with the half baked warnings we used to issue!

This will be one time I hope Charter is it's usual slow a** self at updating/changing!!

If I had a 10TB per day cap put in place by my provider I would cancel them immediately that same day and if I didn't find an unlimited provider then I would just sell my computers and never be on the net again until something without caps was offered.
Caps are uncomfortable no matter how high they are set, if the provider can't police their bandwidth hogs properly then it's the providers fault, not mine, not yours, the caps are simply a way for your provider to find reasons to fleece you out of more money as well as an excuse for their laziness.

Yes bandwidth isn't free but if you factor in the amount of money we are paying just for an internet connection and multiply it by the number of people who are paying for it too then you quickly see that they are making way more than enough money to keep their junk upgraded to handle the traffic and still have millions (if not billions) left over and absolutely no reason exists for caps on service.

Just a way to extract more money. What was happening is more and more people were hitting 300ish and it wasn't due to "excessive usage" and wasn't worth contacting them, instead hey lets extra more money from them instead of keeping pace with data inflation rates. They set that cap in like 08 or 09 when 250 was fairly reasonable particularly cause most that hit like 300 were still safe, yet they've not raise it in the year since while streams etc have doubled in bandwidth used.

Comcast calls me every month trying to give me cable and blast for like 10$ more, I tell them to get lost unless they are going to up the cap 'faster' downloads are of little use to me. I hit the limit are come close or go slightly over just about every month.


I'm ok with it because the alternative was getting your service shutdown. I'll pay for extra GBs if I need them. The other option is DSL and after having tasted the speed that comcast offers... I can't go back.

I regularly use 500 to 600GB a month. Ooooh the bad bad man.

We Stream all the time through Amazon Prime and Netflixx and while we're still paying for TV, we download all the same shows in HD commercial free with sicbeard. The usage surprised me too until I considered just how big these shows are every week.

But I do love how they lure you into using all these great services, and they did btw, only to punish you for it once you do. Hell they want me to buy 50mbs service next month to do even more.

What happens when more and more things are added and usage continues to climb, will it be like the oil industry where they cripple growth to keep prices high and urge useful idiots to parrot stupid **** like "Data hogs are sooo bad"? How about you use some of those profits to do the right upgrades in the first place.

Simple, it's about gouging the stupid consumer anyway possible and while I expect it from greedy corporations that don't even really compete, I am irritated by those that stupidly defend their actions and prolong these tactics.

The Stunods defending these media cartels should be slapped, if not to wake them up, then just for the small satisfaction I'd get in reminding them just how absolutely clueless they really are.

I have the blast package.. and I pay the most which is around $70/month.. I shouldn't have the same cap as someone on basic or premium that's just how it is. I should have at least a min of 500GB/month considering the amount I pay AND they need to hurry up and freakin upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0 here and upgrade the speeds some. I use a ton of bandwidth a month but I've yet to hit the 250 cap and I wouldn't know anyway....they never added a meter to my account even after asking 3 times. I've retained notes and reference #'s on each call..so let them complain I'm ready.

Given your situation, if you've never hit the 250GB cap, you probably don't have too much to worry about, especially since they're upping it to 300GB anyway.

Are you sure you don't have a meter on your account though? I found mine by going to their website, clicking "Pay Bills" (to get to the Customer Central page), and then clicking the "Users & Settings" tab. They display a percentage and GB used for the month/pay period there.

If you don't have that though, then the hell with it, go on about your business. If they ever give you ****, tell them you have no way to measure it, along with the fact that you've tried to have it added to your account, and that you won't pay in overages you have no ability to measure. At least, that's what I'd do.

cry me a river please you don't know what a cap is till you've lived in New Zealand
$81 for Phone and 30GB is what I pay and $2/GB over that and thats for crappy ADSL2+ none of that elite cable or fiber here yet

250Gb/month pffft I'd love to have that for the price some of you are paying not the $235 NZD I'd be charged for here for it

Athlonite said,
cry me a river please you don't know what a cap is till you've lived in New Zealand
$81 for Phone and 30GB is what I pay and $2/GB over that and thats for crappy ADSL2+ none of that elite cable or fiber here yet

250Gb/month pffft I'd love to have that for the price some of you are paying not the $235 NZD I'd be charged for here for it

As a fellow Australian I approve of this comment. Though, to be honest, I'm with Optus and I get 500GBs for $80 AUD so I don't feel completely ripped off. But moving from the US when caps weren't common place to Australia was a bit of a shock and took quite a few months to reign my internet usage in.

briangw said,
This could screw with telecommuters, especially those of us in IT. Thankfully, I don't have Comcast anymore.

I work for a telecommunication company and between VoIP and video conferencing, one user can go over this cap easily in one month.

AT&T offers a 150GB cap for their DSL, and a 250GB cap for their U-Verse setup, as I understand it.

Overall, I'm not too upset by this because: A) It's bumping my current cap from 250GB to 300GB, and B) it's removing the worry of losing service should I, for whatever reason, exceed that cap.

This is my first month with them though, and my service has been great so far. Despite wanting to download every beta I can get my hands on, streaming TV and movies, I've only hit 23% of my cap thus far. I'd be lucky if I hit 50% usage before this pay period is up.

dead.cell said,
AT&T offers a 150GB cap for their DSL, and a 250GB cap for their U-Verse setup, as I understand it.

Overall, I'm not too upset by this because: A) It's bumping my current cap from 250GB to 300GB, and B) it's removing the worry of losing service should I, for whatever reason, exceed that cap.

This is my first month with them though, and my service has been great so far. Despite wanting to download every beta I can get my hands on, streaming TV and movies, I've only hit 23% of my cap thus far. I'd be lucky if I hit 50% usage before this pay period is up.

Does it? We will see. I am sure there will still be a fair use provision to address that and it won't be good for anyone.

I consider myself a heavy internet user. I recorded my bandwidth usage for a while and I only use 40-60GB a month. Granted, I don't stream movies on Netflix or Hulu. IIRC, streaming a movie on Netflix uses about 5GB, which means you'd need to stream 60 movies a month to go over your limit. After that, it's $10 per 50GB, which is good for 10 movies, or $1 per movie.

If they do perfectly legit stuff like youtube or netfix or hulu(plus) and skype video calls you can easily go over a limit such as this. Especially if that is your only form of entertainment and communication.

I did a test where I stopped and did not do any suspect activity or even legit ones such as downloading nix distro isos and just used those combinations of legit services and I got damn near the 250gb cap and that was only doing it part time. And it was JUST me. Multiply that by say a family of four.

For the record... and I didn't even check until just now.. I am at 258gbs this month.. That is streaming video, skype video calling, and my less reputable activities plus linux iso downloads and updates.

Tim Dawg said,
LOLZ!!!! I wonder what those are?

No comment.

But seriously even doing everything legit can get you screwed over by caps and overages.

Matt A. Tobin said,
If they do perfectly legit stuff like youtube or netfix or hulu(plus) and skype video calls you can easily go over a limit such as this. Especially if that is your only form of entertainment and communication.

I did a test where I stopped and did not do any suspect activity or even legit ones such as downloading nix distro isos and just used those combinations of legit services and I got damn near the 250gb cap and that was only doing it part time. And it was JUST me. Multiply that by say a family of four.

Only once has my family gone over the cap. Went over by 40gb because we were on a netflix extravaganza apparently. I changed some settings and managed to keep it down fairly well after that.

I dumped Comcast TV and Phone the other day because I am tired of the Gymnastics they do when trying to figure out how much stuff costs. Phone costs one fee if you have Internet, and another fee if you don't. If they aren't scamming they are making me feel scammed. Now I feel great.

jimmyfal said,
I dumped Comcast TV and Phone the other day because I am tired of the Gymnastics they do when trying to figure out how much stuff costs. Phone costs one fee if you have Internet, and another fee if you don't. If they aren't scamming they are making me feel scammed. Now I feel great.

And there is no damn calculator online that says "YOUR BILL WILL BE THIS MUCH IN TOTAL AFTER EVERYTHING, all the taxes and bull**** fees"

What the hell is this? That's still a cap. They are changing to a wireless data plan now. Does not cost Comcast anymore money if I use 50GB or 300GB. The bad thing is that I can't switch over to a different company because there is no other provider for internet.

ACTIONpack said,
Does not cost Comcast anymore money if I use 50GB or 300GB.

Where do people get this idea from? I am serious; I would love to understand the thought process behind that statement. Is it just because bandwidth has not be limited for so long? Is it because they lack the understanding of how a shared network works? Really, someone who feels this way please explain.

sphbecker said,

Where do people get this idea from? I am serious; I would love to understand the thought process behind that statement. Is it just because bandwidth has not be limited for so long? Is it because they lack the understanding of how a shared network works? Really, someone who feels this way please explain.

It takes the same amount of energy to power it. Also, they don't count bandwidth when using their services AKA their APP on Xbox 360 which is anti-competitive.

ACTIONpack said,
What the hell is this? That's still a cap. They are changing to a wireless data plan now. Does not cost Comcast anymore money if I use 50GB or 300GB. The bad thing is that I can't switch over to a different company because there is no other provider for internet.

If everyone was using loads of data the average downloas speeds would be slower so they'd lose customers to competition, so yeh it does cost them if you're a heavy user.

thealexweb said,

If everyone was using loads of data the average downloas speeds would be slower so they'd lose customers to competition, so yeh it does cost them if you're a heavy user.

What competition? Where I'm at its Comcast or dial up.

RangerLG said,
What competition? Where I'm at its Comcast or dial up.
That's hardly a valid method of arguing that competition doesn't exist in general.

ACTIONpack said,

It takes the same amount of energy to power it. Also, they don't count bandwidth when using their services AKA their APP on Xbox 360 which is anti-competitive.

LOL, truly you do not understand what's involved with deliverig high speed data. It does indeed cost a provider more to support a customer who routinely uses 300GB versus 50GB. I love how people think HSD should be unlimted and practicaly free. People would be surprised at how many users never even come close to hittig 250GB yet those who do consume considerably more. It is these few that drive the cost for added bandwidth.

cryptic said,

LOL, truly you do not understand what's involved with deliverig high speed data. It does indeed cost a provider more to support a customer who routinely uses 300GB versus 50GB. I love how people think HSD should be unlimted and practicaly free. People would be surprised at how many users never even come close to hittig 250GB yet those who do consume considerably more. It is these few that drive the cost for added bandwidth.

It costs them one penny per gigabyte...that is all.

Like the mobile phone companies charging $ for FREE sms/text messages, this is just a scam designed to move consumers to METERED access of the Internet.

They know everyone is moving to the Internet for streaming video 24/7 and they want ways to keep increasing their profits now that people are canceling their cable video subscriptions.

If they had competition in each individual market place, they couldn't be doing this.

PS The cost the cable company charges is based on what the (monopoly) market will bear. It has nothing to do with their hard costs, usage, etc. except to set a floor, of course. And that floor is a fraction of what they currently charge customers--which you can see if you take a look at their public reports to stockholders reporting their ever-increasing record profits year after year.

ACTIONpack said,

It takes the same amount of energy to power it. Also, they don't count bandwidth when using their services AKA their APP on Xbox 360 which is anti-competitive.

The same amount of energy to power it, ROFL!!! To your 2nd point, if they chose to offer some services for free that is a busness choise. Cell phone companies don't charge you for calls and texts to/from them, that doesn't mean those calls or texts cost them nothing, it just means they chose to not charge you.

Here is the thing, yes, it doesn't cost more per GB if you have an existing network with extra capacity (assuming you don't consider the possibility of selling unused capacity). Now with so many households greatly increasing their bandwidth usage (mainly due to video streaming) no one has extra capacity. Everyone has to upgrade. So the cost of an average customer using an extra 50GB (keeping in mind that everyone else is doing the same thing) is directly related to the cost of added infrastructure to support the extra demand.

excalpius said,

PS The cost the cable company charges is based on what the (monopoly) market will bear. It has nothing to do with their hard costs, usage, etc. except to set a floor, of course. And that floor is a fraction of what they currently charge customers--which you can see if you take a look at their public reports to stockholders reporting their ever-increasing record profits year after year.

The term you are looking for is Oligopoly, but yes, there is not true competition because of the few providers available they all have about the same pricing structure. In economic terms, an oligopoly industry is slow to change, but unlike a monopoly, given enough time, they will be forced to set their prices to reflect economic conditions. It would take 15+ minutes to explain this, look it up if you are interested, but suffice to say, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Your penny per gigabyte claim has been tossed around a lot, it isn't true, at least not in the general sense people use it. AT&T provided that number to the FCC as their cost to maintain (not build) bandwidth in a metropolitan area. How much does it cost to maintain a house? It isn't free but it doesn't cost a huge amount of money either. How much does it cost to build one? A LOT! Bandwidth is much the same way.

excalpius said,

It costs them one penny per gigabyte...that is all.

Like the mobile phone companies charging $ for FREE sms/text messages, this is just a scam designed to move consumers to METERED access of the Internet.

They know everyone is moving to the Internet for streaming video 24/7 and they want ways to keep increasing their profits now that people are canceling their cable video subscriptions.

If they had competition in each individual market place, they couldn't be doing this.

PS The cost the cable company charges is based on what the (monopoly) market will bear. It has nothing to do with their hard costs, usage, etc. except to set a floor, of course. And that floor is a fraction of what they currently charge customers--which you can see if you take a look at their public reports to stockholders reporting their ever-increasing record profits year after year.

You're so far off on your "pennies per GB" it's quite a bit more, trust me. Oh, have you ever heard of FiOS, or Uverse, or even mobile hot spots? There is indeed competition, and your comments regarding charges and monopoly are just factually incorrect. You make it seem as if they pull an arbitrary number from the sky. They do have a right to make a profit you know, CATV is not a non-profit entity. Go to your electric company and ask for a non metered account for a flat rate, and see what they tell you. Oh, and what?!! They actually report increasing profits?!! How outrageous, obviously they should be losing money year after year!! Check the stock market if you think any CATV co is making "record" profits. lol

cryptic said,

You're so far off on your "pennies per GB" it's quite a bit more, trust me. Oh, have you ever heard of FiOS, or Uverse, or even mobile hot spots? There is indeed competition, and your comments regarding charges and monopoly are just factually incorrect. You make it seem as if they pull an arbitrary number from the sky. They do have a right to make a profit you know, CATV is not a non-profit entity. Go to your electric company and ask for a non metered account for a flat rate, and see what they tell you. Oh, and what?!! They actually report increasing profits?!! How outrageous, obviously they should be losing money year after year!! Check the stock market if you think any CATV co is making "record" profits. lol

It would be nice if they put that money back into the network rather than into management's already over-flowing bank accounts or lobbying for anti-privacy legislation. A profit is fine, but raising costs without re-investing the new gains into their existing network is just plain screwing everyone.

bkellner said,

It would be nice if they put that money back into the network rather than into management's already over-flowing bank accounts or lobbying for anti-privacy legislation. A profit is fine, but raising costs without re-investing the new gains into their existing network is just plain screwing everyone.

LOL, I love your logic. "I am paying more than I would like to, therefor they must be overpaying some fat cat, only possible reason." At the end of the day reality isn't going to change to match your fantacy, but have fun!

pickypg said,
Overages are just charges for going over a given cap.

I hate Big Cable. It's all a scam in their favor.

and the average user will ever pay this overage when?...... 300GB is a lot for the average person, even a high usage user to hit
its not like this is AT&T or Time Warner giving you a base of 6GB per month and overages, where 2+GB of that is chewed up by ARP packets you have no control over......

pickypg said,
Overages are just charges for going over a given cap.

I hate Big Cable. It's all a scam in their favor.


I think 250 GB a month is acceptable and a person wont exceed it unless a heavy user or shares internet with more than 5 or 6.

I use a lot of data, my usage is 120 Gb in 60 Days on my laptop
thats 2 Gb everyday =60Gb max Other devices may take up to 30Gb additional mainly due to Netflix on PS3. thats still 90Gb a month

pickypg said,
Overages are just charges for going over a given cap.

I hate Big Cable. It's all a scam in their favor.

While I agree that overages are not the best way to handel this (would love to see traffic over a set limit just given lowest priority on their network) $10 for 50GB really isn't very high. At least going over is going to mean a $10 or $20 surprise, not a $500 fee.

sphbecker said,

While I agree that overages are not the best way to handel this (would love to see traffic over a set limit just given lowest priority on their network) $10 for 50GB really isn't very high. At least going over is going to mean a $10 or $20 surprise, not a $500 fee.

It's a way to get more money from people who use Netflix and/or Hulu Plus. A lot of people are not buying the triply package which is about $130 a month. They buy internet only which is about $55 and get Netflix ($8) and Hulu Plus ($8) and it comes out to a great deal. That's about half the price and Comcast knows this and is trying to get some of that cash.

ACTIONpack said,

It's a way to get more money from people who use Netflix and/or Hulu Plus. A lot of people are not buying the triply package which is about $130 a month. They buy internet only which is about $55 and get Netflix ($8) and Hulu Plus ($8) and it comes out to a great deal. That's about half the price and Comcast knows this and is trying to get some of that cash.

I think that has a lot to do with it actually. I would not be surprised if someone tries to come up with a fee to access Netflix and Hulu, call it "Advanced HD streaming services" or whatever, but the truth would be that if you don't pay for it they make your connection to those sites unusably slow. Uggg, that would suck.

Still, I get 250GB with AT&T, I have 7 people living at my house so there is a lot of streaming going on, we have never hit the limit.

sphbecker said,

I think that has a lot to do with it actually. I would not be surprised if someone tries to come up with a fee to access Netflix and Hulu, call it "Advanced HD streaming services" or whatever, but the truth would be that if you don't pay for it they make your connection to those sites unusably slow. Uggg, that would suck.

Still, I get 250GB with AT&T, I have 7 people living at my house so there is a lot of streaming going on, we have never hit the limit.

They tried. Netflix had none of it, and FCC agreed.

sphbecker said,

I think that has a lot to do with it actually. I would not be surprised if someone tries to come up with a fee to access Netflix and Hulu, call it "Advanced HD streaming services" or whatever, but the truth would be that if you don't pay for it they make your connection to those sites unusably slow. Uggg, that would suck.

Net Neutrality is what stops them from doing this.

neufuse said,

and the average user will ever pay this overage when?...... 300GB is a lot for the average person, even a high usage user to hit
its not like this is AT&T or Time Warner giving you a base of 6GB per month and overages, where 2+GB of that is chewed up by ARP packets you have no control over......

With Netflix hitting numbers like a third of all internet traffic (source #1) with 23+ million subscribers within the United States, and HD titles using as much as 2GB bandwidth per hour (source #2), the "average" user has a lot to worry about. You may think that 150 hours of Netflix streaming is high end, but take into account shared network connections and other uses for the internet. Watching 30 movies a month (one per day for a shared network connection could be considered low), with the average movie being ~2 hours, you're looking at 120GB of bandwidth just in Netflix titles.

With 23+ million subscribers (more than Comcast's internet subscriber base, source #3) using a third of all internet traffic within the United States, you may want to redefine your definition of "average user" to include people who use a hell of a lot of bandwidth.

Add in services like Skype, where a video call can rack up ~1GB for an hour.

World of Warcraft full download over 10GB.

Steam games which are upwards of 10+ GB for some titles.

Youtube HD streaming.

In a shared network connection (family members) you can rack up quite a bit of GB/mo.

Let's be real here. This is nothing more than to discourage Netflix subscribers (which are almost as many as Comcast's own cable subscribers) from dropping their cable subscriptions.

Source #1
http://www.technolog.msnbc.msn...t-internet-bandwidth-119517

Source #2
http://techblog.netflix.com/20...ce-on-top-isp-networks.html

Source #3
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comcast
"As of September 30, 2010, Comcast serves a total of 22.9 million cable customers, 16.7 million high-speed Internet customers, and 8.4 million voice customers. "