updated 07:54 pm EDT, Wed May 14, 2014
Service testing 300GB limits in certain markets, with $10 per additional 50GB
Comcast seems to have a plan in place to have all users on a data cap on its broadband service within five years. Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen told investors earlier today that "in five years Comcast at least would have a usage-based billing model rolled out across its footprint."
Comcast is already testing caps. Two similar systems are being piloted. The first offers a 300GB ceiling for all data tiers, above which a fee will apply per each "block" of data consumed. The example given by Comcast is 50GB for $10. The second keeps the 300GB soft ceiling for the "Internet Essentials", "Economy", and "Performance" tiers with the "Blast" and "Extreme" plans having an unspecified additional amount. The block data charge remains unaffected.
It would take some time for a single user to reach a 300GB cap. Streaming movie service Netflix consumes approximately 1.5GB per hour of high definition video watched. Gaming products like World of Warcraft or Xbox Live take between 150 and 300MB per hour. A single user would have to watch 50 movies per month to approach the ceiling before additional charges are assessed. Two gamers on the same connection would have to play online games nearly 24 hours a day to clear the 300GB limit.
At the investor's meeting, Cohen claimed to not want a scenario where "80 percent of our customers are implicated by usage-based billing and are all buying different packets of usage. I don't think that's the model that we are heading toward, but five years ago I don't know that I would have heard of something called an iPad. So very difficult to make predictions."