Friday, May 18, 2012

Comcast to dump 250GB cap, will test other options

Those using Comcast for broadband have - or at least they should have - become used to a 250GB cap. That cap is no more, as Comcast's executive Vice President David L. Cohen said on Friday, "We're out of the cap business."

Comcast may be out of the cap business, but it may be IN the tiered data business. In effect, there is no longer a hard cap, but there will be a soft cap, meaning that those who go over a certain figure will pay an overage fee.

Comcast will be trying at least two different approaches in test markets. While the company used the term "at least," the company only listed two test scenarios. The first new approach will start with a 300GB allotment for Comcast's Internet Essentials, Economy, and Performance "Performance" Tiers. There would be increased allotments of data for successive tiers of higher-speed data service (e.g., Blast and Extreme). Those at a specific performance tier that need a higher data allotment but don't want to move to another performance tier can buy additional data (e.g., $10 for 50GB).

The second scenario would raise the 250GB allotment for all packages to 300GB and then offer additional data beyond that at an added cost. Once again, the suggested amount would be $10 for 50GB.

The real winners, at least during the test phase, are those outside the test markets. That is because Comcast will suspend the data cap completely in those areas. Want to run BitTorrent 24x7? Here's your chance (all copyright issues aside).

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What is unclear is when this stars - Comcast only said a vague “next few months,” and which markets will be test markets. This is one of those occasions where consumers would probably like to be out of, rather than in, a test.

Comcast did say it would notify customers, so Comcast customers, watch your email inbox for notifications, perhaps coming soon.

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