The trend toward cable operators imposing data caps on their broadband services continues to gain momentum, as a couple of recent developments remind us. As of the beginning of this month, Comcast introduced new caps on its service in Nashville and Mediacom also imposed new caps – apparently throughout its service area.
As Comcast explains in a Q&A posted on its site, the new pricing in Nashville raises the current 250 gigabytes of data allotted to each customer per month to 300 GB but imposes a $10 charge for every 50 GB of data above the 300 GB limit used by the consumer. The company added, though, that customers will only be billed for overages if they exceed the limit more than three times during a one-year period.
Mediacom’s new pricing imposes different caps depending on the speed of the service purchased, the company explained in its customer service blog. Caps range from 150GB for 3 Mbps service to 999GB for 105 Mbps service. A Mediacom representative wrote in a post on the DSL Reports website that the overage charge will be $10 per 50 GB. The cable company also noted that the new caps only apply to new customers or to existing customers who change their rate plans.
Several Media outlets obtained a statement from a Mediacom executive noting that a typical customer consumes 31 GB per month and therefore would not be affected by the caps.
Comcast and Mediacom join a growing list of broadband service providers – including AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Suddenlink Communications – that have implemented some type of data usage cap. It is widely believed that companies are making this move in an attempt to limit the amount of over-the-top video streaming that customers can do. OTT video streaming not only uses considerably more bandwidth than many other applications – it also can eat into broadband providers’ video revenues by minimizing the use of pay-per-view or premium channels or, in extreme cases, driving customers to cancel video service entirely.
The $10 per 50 GB overage charge seems to be the going rate for the capped data plans. Among the service providers charging that amount are AT&T, Suddenlink, and now Comcast and Mediacom. Mediacom seems to be unique, however, in offering such a wide range of cap thresholds.