updated 12:45 pm EDT, Sat May 17, 2014
Blog post attempts to clarify remarks before investor group, fails to do so
Trying to backtrack on comments made before the the MoffettNathanson Media and Communications Summit saying that all Comcast customers would be on a "capped" plan by 2019, Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen is now claiming in a blog post that the company has "no plans to announce a new data usage policy." Cohen also claims that the company will be "looking at adding some unlimited data plans to our trials," despite many of Comcast's customers already effectively having unlimited data.
Comcast is already testing caps, regardless of what the executive calls them. 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.
Cohen's blog post reminds users (calling a data ceiling "usage-based billing") that it suspended a 250GB data cap in 2012 to conduct some testing on slightly higher data limits, and "since then, we've had no data caps for any of our customers anywhere in the country." This statement seems incorrect, and appears to be using semantics as a shield. Users who exceed the 300GB ceiling currently being tested are in fact charged $10 for an additional 50GB, even if only 1GB more is consumed. Users not in the seven "usage-based billing" states have no additional charges levied against them, which would make their service unlimited by definition.
Cohen notes that "we have been [testing] a few flexible data consumption plans, including a plan that enables customers who wanted to use more data be given the option to pay more to do so, and a plan for those who use less data the option to save some money." However, Cohen does write that "we certainly have no interest in adopting any plans that our customers find unreasonable or disruptive to their Internet experience."