Comcast’s Usage-Based Internet Trial Reaches More Markets

Huntsville and Mobile, Ala.; Augusta, Ga.; & Charleston , S.C., Latest To Test Data Plans Geared For Heavy and Light Broadband Users

Comcast has expanded trials of new usage-based Internet data plans that are tailored for both light and heavy broadband users.

First spotted by DSL Reports on Thursday and posted by Comcast here, the latest markets to join the market trial are Huntsville and Mobile, Ala.; Augusta, Ga.; and Charleston, S.C.  Comcast has already introduced these pilot policies in Savannah, Ga.; central Kentucky; Jackson, Miss.; Knoxville and Memphis, Tenn.

Those markets are all kicking the tires on a monthly 300-Gigabyte plan that charges customers extra if they exceed that threshold, as well as an optional plan for lighter users.

If customers exceed their monthly 300 GB data cap, they'll be charged $10 for each additional, incremental block of 50 GB. The 300 GB cap applies to all speed tiers. Comcast is providing a meter that helps customers track usage. The MSO is sending in-browser and email 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.

Customers will receive an automated phone call from the operator the second time a customer reaches 100% of the usage threshold.

To help customers get used to the new policies, Comcast is also 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, according to an FAQ that explains the policy.

Comcast is also trying out 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.

“We think this is a fairer plan. It enables those who want to use more data a way to do so and those who use less data can pay less,” a Comcast spokesman said via email, noting that the company is not announcing any plans to extend the trial to other markets.

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