Cable One Rolls 50-Mbps Tier With Caps And Surcharges

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Cable One, the tenth-biggest cable operator in the U.S., has introduced a 50 Megabit per second tier with usage limits as low as 50 Gigabytes per month -- and will charge customers 50 cents for each GB beyond the caps.

Subscribers who take the MSO's standalone broadband or broadband plus one other service are limited to 50 GB per month, while triple-play subs are allowed up to 100 GB, according to a rate card posted on its site. The document indicates the rates were effective as of March 15, 2011.

On May 2, AT&T became the biggest U.S. wireline broadband provider to establish overage charges for customers whose usage exceeds pre-set limits. The telco's traditional DSL users are capped at 150 GB, while U-verse Internet users have a 250 GB limit; additional usage is $10 per 50 GB (or 20 cents per GB).

Roughly speaking, one hour of streaming video consumes between 1 and 1.5 GB.

In a research note Monday, Sanford Bernstein senior analyst Craig Moffett pointed out that Cable One still offers an unlimited tier, "as we expect will be the case initially for virtually every MSO that follows this path." Cable One's unlimited plan offers 5 Mbps for $50 per month.

Phoenix-based Cable One, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Washington Post Co., serves approximately 720,000 customers in 19 states with cable TV, telephone and high-speed Internet service.

According to a Multichannel News analysis of broadband subscriber figures compiled by Leichtman Research Group, approximately 56% of all U.S. high-speed Internet users are subject to some kind of bandwidth-usage cap. Today, however, only AT&T and a few smaller providers including Cable One, BendBroadband and Knology charge overage fees.

Details on Cable One's 50-Mbps tier and usage limits were reported last week by DSLReports.com.

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