Comcast’s Usage-Based Broadband Trial Reaches Maine

MSO Charging Extra When Customers Exceed Their Monthly Data Thresholds

Maine is the next Comcast market to test out new usage-based broadband policy that charges extra when customers exceed their monthly data limits.

Comcast confirmed that the trial is now underway in Maine, the latest in a growing list of markets and regions that have introduced it.

Like other markets where the trial is underway, customers in Maine will be fitted with a monthly usage cap of 300 Gigabytes per month. Following a grace period, customers who exceed that threshold will be charged $10 for each additional bucket of 50 GB. Comcast provides a meter to help customers track broadband usage, and sends in-browser and e-mail alerts when customers reach 80%, 90%, and 100% of their monthly 300 GB limit, and again when they exceed the cap  (110% and 125%), along with notifications that 50 GB has been allocated to the account.

Comcast is giving customers three courtesy months for exceeding the monthly 300 GB cap in any 12-month period, meaning that overage charges will only be applied if a customer exceeds the 300 GB threshold for a fourth time in that span.

In addition to Maine, Comcast has launched the trial in Huntsville and Mobile, Ala.; Atlanta,  Augusta and Savannah, Ga.; central Kentucky; Jackson, Miss; Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis, Tenn.; and Charleston, S.C.

In those markets, Comcast is also testing a “Flexible-Data Option” that’s tailored for light Internet users on the MSO’s 3 Mbps Economy Plus tier. That opt-in trial caps usage at 5 GB per month before customers are subjected to per-gigabyte fees. Customers who do not exceed the monthly 5 GB ceiling will receive a $5 credit, but will be charged an additional $1 per GB consumed beyond the 5 GB cap.

Comcast has also been testing a more variable usage-based policy in Tucson, Ariz., that adjusts the monthly consumption ceiling based on the speed of the customer’s data tier.

The operator has previously indicated that about 98% of its Internet users do not exceed 300 GB per month, with median monthly usage in the range of 16 GB to 18 GB per month.

Comcast’s original 250-GB fixed cap policy was introduced in October 2008. Comcast announced last June that it would begin to trial “improved data usage management approaches” while suspending enforcement of an old policy.

The operator has not announced when it might launch its new policy in other markets.