Comcast Shifts To Usage-Based Pricing From Caps


Comcast said it will eliminate the 250-Gigabyte monthly broadband-usage limit on Xfinity
Internet, moving over time instead to a usage-based
pricing model that will provide at least 300 GB of data
usage before customers incur additional charges.

The cable operator is making the change after it was
criticized by competitors and public-interest groups for
allowing unlimited usage of its IP video-on-demand service
on Xbox 360, while applying usage of other Internetvideo
services to the cap.

Comcast will “replace our static 250-GB usage
threshold with more flexible data usage management
approaches that benefit consumers and support innovation
and that will continue to ensure that all of our
customers enjoy the best possible Internet experience
over our high-speed data service,” Cathy Avgiris, Comcast’s
executive vice president and general manager of
communications and data services, wrote in a blog post.

In the next few months, the MSO will test at least two
usage-based pricing approaches in different markets.
Comcast did not provide details about timing or locations.

Comcast’s first new approach will offer a 300-GB
usage allotment for Internet Essentials, Economy and
Performance tiers, and with increasing data allotments
for each successive tier of high-speed data service (e.g.,
Blast and Extreme). Customers who use more can buy
access in increments, such as $10 for 50 GB.

The second approach will increase data-usage thresholds
for all tiers to 300 GB per month and also offer additional
gigabytes in increments (e.g., $10 per 50 GB).

With the changes, Comcast subscribers will be able
to access an “effectively unlimited amount of usage,
because they will be able to buy and use as much data
as they want,” executive vice president David Cohen
said on a call with reporters last Thursday (May 17).

As far as the rationale for the change, Cohen said:
“It’s a matter of messaging, rather than capacity. We
just didn’t like the message we were sending to consumers,
that they had a static, 250-Gigabyte cap.”

In markets where Comcast will not be trialing a
new data usage management approach, the company
will suspend enforcement of its current usage cap.

Comcast first introduced the 250-GB cap on all
broadband users in October 2008. According to the
MSO, the median monthly data usage among Comcast
subscribers is 8 to 10 GB.