Comcast says that it will soon raise the monthly cap of 250GB that customers currently suffer under to 300GB as part of a new tiered pricing plan, according to a CNET report. While it will beta test this new tired pricing model in some areas, the good news is that in areas where it is not testing it the data caps will be temporarily lifted.
David L. Cohen, executive vice president for Comcast, told reporters today during a conference call that this new policy is meant to rein in the small percentage of customers who use excessive amounts of data per month and to encourage its other customers to use the service more.
"We didn't like the message that we were giving our customers with the static 250GB cap," he said. "Now, we are sending a signal to our customers that we want them to use our broadband service and to feel free to use it for all lawful purposes. We want them to subscribe to Netflix and stream YouTube and use Skype to their heart's content without worrying about hitting some artificial data cap that results in them losing their service."
Cohen went on to say that Comcast plans to have two different approaches during the trial run of its new pricing tiers: The company will allocate a different level of data caps for each tier it currently offers. The low-end tier will be capped at 300GB. Naturally higher tiers of service would get a higher data cap, but would have to pay around $10 per additional 50GB of data. The second approach would be to offer the 300GB cap across every tier of service. Cohen said that the company may introduce other models as well. He did not disclose what cities it plans to test these new models in, so watch out.
Naturally companies that rely on the Internet to deliver content and advocacy groups had something to say about Comcast's new plans.
"Comcast recognized the need to increase the cap on data 'usage' that the company set in 2008 and to experiment with additional flexibility for customers," Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge, said in a statement. "As Time Warner Cable's recent decision to offer a capped plan as a discounted alternative shows, more flexible pricing plans can benefit consumers where they offer opportunities for savings without compromising quality or an open Internet. We await further details of Comcast's plan so that subscribers can fully assess how these changes will impact their user experience."
"Increasing the data cap is a small step in the right direction," the Netflix said in a statement. "But unfortunately Comcast continues to treat its own Internet delivered video different under the cap than other Internet delivered video. We continue to stand by the principle that Internet service providers should treat all providers of video services equally."
We'll have more on this story as it develops. To get more details on Comcast's plans, check out their company blog.