Light Reading

Comcast Turns On Usage-Based Broadband

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has picked Nashville, Tenn., as the first city to try out a new broadband usage policy that will charge customers $10 for each bucket of 50 gigabytes that they consume above a monthly 300GB threshold.

The new policy takes effect there on Wednesday, Aug. 1. According to a Q&A about the new policy, Comcast won't bill customers the first three times they exceed the monthly 300GB allowance during a 12-month period. Following that "courtesy period," customers will get charged if they bust through the cap.

They will then be allocated another bucket of 50GB and will be alerted to the fact by email and an in-browser notice. Comcast will do the same when users approach both 90 percent and 100 percent of their monthly data allowance.

The debut of the policy comes more than two months after Comcast announced it would raise its monthly broadband usage cap from 250GB to at least 300GB for all its cable modem tiers and would start to try out a usage-based, metered model that would charge fees when customers exceeded the limit.

At the time, Comcast had also discussed plans to introduce a different kind of test that would start with a 300GB cap for its lower-level service tiers and then raise that data consumption ceiling for its higher-end tiers (its fastest service now maxes out at 305Mbit/s down by 65Mbit/s upstream). As it's gotten ready for these tests, Comcast has chucked its old 250GB "excessive use" policy, which took effect in the fall of 2008 and did not charge extra when users exceeded the cap. (See Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB and Comcast Revs Up Pricey 305-Meg Tier.)

Comcast didn't say when or where it will next test its usage-based broadband policies, but company EVP and GM of Communications and Data Services Cathy Avgiris noted in mid-May that the plan is to "pilot at least two approaches" in different markets over the next few months.

Why this matters
The Nashville launch marks Comcast's first policy to combine a broadband cap with overage fees, and follows similar policies being tested or deployed by other U.S. broadband ISPs, including Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Suddenlink Communications and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). With Comcast now moving ahead, it's likely that other major U.S. cable operators may begin to introduce similar policies that aim to keep bandwidth hogs in check.

Usage-based broadband policies are allowed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's network neutrality rules, though they have become the subject of complaints from over-the-top video services that believe broadband meters and caps put them at a disadvantage. Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), meanwhile, has whined that Comcast's Xfinity TV app for the Xbox 360 game console does not count against a user's cap.

For more

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:25:36 PM
re: Comcast Turns On Usage-Based Broadband

Although other US cable operators may join the usage-based broadband party now that Comcast is moving forward, I don't expect Verizon to  change its policies for FiOS, if it's smart, that is.  Comcast and FiOS are matching up on speed with their fastest tiers and it's probably a matter of time when they will do so on price too. But if I'm VZ, I'm keeping FiOS cap-free, since it offers the kind of differentiator that customers, particularly heavy users, can understand. Google was also smart to keep meters and caps off the table as it gets its fiber products rolling in the Kansas Cities. JB

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:25:31 PM
re: Comcast Turns On Usage-Based Broadband

Maybe it's time for an OISP in Occupy ISPs. Any idea if other advanced economies (S. Korea, Japan, W. Europe) also have caps or are considering them?

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:25:20 PM
re: Comcast Turns On Usage-Based Broadband

By this logic, Sprint should be materially outpacing ATT and VZ on wireless net adds with their unlimited wireless data plans.  Hasn't happened.  And the heaviest users are  the least profitable customers to have if you assume that revenue is the same for a heavy user vs. "typical" user - so ISPs may be glad to let their competition attract the least profitable customers with unlimited data plans. 

From The Founder
The comms industry is rallying to the cause of open, independent interoperability testing.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Tail-f, Cisco & What the Future Holds

10|9|15   |   8:17   |   (0) comments

Steve Saunders meets with Tail-f's Director of Technology, Carl Moberg, in Stockholm to discuss becoming part of Cisco, ETSI MANO, virtualization and the need to combine science and business in order to create opportunities for service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Broadband Forum Embraces SDN & NFV

10|9|15   |   02:42   |   (0) comments

At Gigabit Europe 2015, Robin Mersh and Kevin Foster from the Broadband Forum explain how the industry body is adapting to meet the SDN, NFV and cloud needs of the access network sector.
LRTV Interviews
Top Tips for FTTH Operators

10|8|15   |   02:26   |   (0) comments

At Gigabit Europe 2015, Ventura Team co-founder Richard Jones talks about some of the key business case considerations for FTTH network operators.
LRTV Interviews
M-net Calls for FTTx Unity

10|8|15   |   03:45   |   (0) comments

At the Gigabit Europe event, Jörn Schoof from M-net, the Munich city network operator, calls for industry collaboration on fiber broadband access rollouts.
LRTV Documentaries
The Business Case Challenge for NFV

10|7|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Virtual CPE is one of the early success stories for network functions virtualization, as service providers are finding flexible, programmable CPE solves a lot of logistics problems and reduces their cost. But even here, Masergy Communications faced a business case challenge, says CTO Tim Naramore.
LRTV Interviews
JT Offers Some Gigabit Lessons

10|7|15   |   4:08   |   (1) comment

Barna Kutvolgyi, managing director, Global Consumer, at JT, the incumbent operator on the island of Jersey, talks about how other service providers can learn from his company's gigabit broadband rollout experiences.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Chiosi on the Potential of Open Source

10|6|15   |   06:27   |   (0) comments

AT&T Distinguished Network Architect Margaret T. Chiosi talks to Light Reading's Carol Wilson about the potential for open source technology to liberate communications service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Network Security in a Gigabit World

10|6|15   |   05:52   |   (0) comments

Masergy's James Harrison talks about some of the network security and data center issues network operators need to consider as they expand their broadband services portfolios.
LRTV Documentaries
Telefónica: In Search of Virtual Simplicity

10|5|15   |   07:30   |   (0) comments

Francisco-Javier Ramon Salguero, head of Telefónica's NFV initiative, admits virtualization initially means greater complexity, but with the right abstraction layer, it is possible to create a services-driven network architecture. He explains how Telefónica's current trials and initiatives are aimed at doing that, and what his company and other carriers need to ...
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit Europe Takeaways

10|5|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Participants from the inaugural Gigabit Europe event in Munich share their key takeaways from the conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Intel Urges Women to Take Advantage of Their Seat at the Table

10|5|15   |   4:27   |   (1) comment

Have inclusive and constructive conversations, attach a bigger meaning to your work and get involved in the cause, Intel's Monique Hayward advises women in comms.
LRTV Interviews
BT Updates on Plans

10|2|15   |   03:16   |   (2) comments

Peter Bell, CIO at Openreach, the access network division at UK incumbent BT, provides an update on the operator's trials and how Openreach is planning to deploy the broadband technology in its street cabinets.
Upcoming Live Events
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Network appliances have a strong value proposition in today's networks and will continue to do so in the NFV and SDN-enabled networks of tomorrow.
Hot Topics
M&A Speculation Swirls Around Juniper
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/6/2015
Cisco's Chambers Rules Out Political Bid
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/6/2015
Infinera Fleshes Out Its Metro 100G Story
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/7/2015
AT&T Gets Green Light for VoWiFi
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 10/7/2015
AlcaLu Execs Lose Out as Nokia Unveils New Top Team
Iain Morris, News Editor, 10/7/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With so many new and exciting communications technologies now under development, it's easy to get caught up in the industry's escalating hype cycle. That's why the ...
Last week saw a big day in the 15-year history of Light Reading when Editor-in-Chief Ray Le Maistre and I were invited to interview the Deputy Chairman and Rotating ...
Cats with Phones
"What?! I'm on with Finisar about their stock price tanking" Click Here