Cox: Still No Plans For Usage-Based Internet Fees

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Cox Communications said a message apparently displayed to broadband customers on its website indicating they would be billed overage fees for exceeding monthly bandwidth usage was a mistake -- and that the MSO still has no plans to adopt usage-based broadband service plans.

Cox sets monthly limits on how much data high-speed Internet customers may use, based on their service tier. According to a screenshot from a Cox customer posted by DSLReports.com, the cable operator's usage-meter Web application included a message informing users that "you will be billed for any amount you use over your allowance."

The Atlanta-based MSO said the message was a mistake. "It was completely an error that was posted," Cox spokesman Todd Smith said. "We have made no change to our existing policy."

Cox will "continue to evaluate service delivery and billing options as the industry and needs of the customer evolve," Smith added.

Cox's monthly caps are 50 Gigabytes for Essential (3 Mbps down) customers, 200 GB for Preferred (up to 15 Mbps down), 250 GB for Premier (up to 25 Mbps down) and 400 GB for Ultimate (up to 55 Mbps down).

About 3% of Cox customers exceed the monthly data allowance for their tier. "We work with our customers to get them in the most appropriate tier," Smith said.

Other cable operators that set monthly usage limits include Comcast, which has a 250-GB ceiling for all broadband customers, and Charter Communications.

Last summer, AT&T became the largest U.S. broadband provider to not only impose specific usage limits on subscribers but also tack on fees if those caps are exceeded. The telco limits U-verse Internet subscribers to 250 Gigabytes of total usage (downloads and uploads) and 150 GB on traditional DSL subscribers. For every 50 GB beyond those, customers will be charged $10 (equivalent to 20 cents per GB).

More recently, Time Warner Cable rolled out a new optional usage-based billing plan in southern Texas capped at 5 Gigabytes per month that offers a $5 discount. The operator's Essentials Broadband plan, available to customers with Standard, Basic and Lite broadband packages, will receive $5 off per month if they stay under the 5 GB ceiling. However, they could pay up to an additional $25 per month if they exceed the usage limit.

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