Comcast has once again decided to cut some of its customers a break with their data caps, Ars Technica reports. Facing ever-increasing pressure from customers and lawmakers, the internet service provider has decided to not enforce data cap overage fees on its Northeast customers until 2022.
“We recognize that our data plan was new for our customers in the Northeast, and while only a very small percentage of customers need additional data, we are providing them with more time to become familiar with the new plan,” Comcast said in an announcement yesterday.
The latest change affects Xfinity customers in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
If Comcast had proceeded with its policy, Northeast Xfinity customers would have had to pay an extra $10 for every 50 GB of data they went over after they hit their 1.2TB limit, unless they subscribed to an unlimited plan, starting last month. Those charges would top out at a max of $100 a month.
Earlier this month, Comcast had said it would not charge data overage fees to customers in those states until July 2021 after negotiations with Attorney General of Pennsylvania Josh Shapiro. The state of Massachusetts introduced legislation last month to temporarily ban ISPs like Comcast from imposing data caps on customers in the state until the covid-19 pandemic is over.
Comcast also recently increased the speed of its Internal Essential package from 25/3 Mbps to 50/5 Mbps, starting next month, in response to parents, teachers, and students saying the previous speed wasn’t enough for low-income households to attend school virtually. It seems like the push-back has been working to get the ISP to treat its customers with a little more compassion, but the work needed to close the digital divide is not close to being done.
As a reminder, the rest of Comcast’s Xfinity customers in non-Northeastern states not only still have to worry about data caps, but they are still paying overage fees too, even though the covid-19 pandemic also affects them. It’s been pointed out time and time again by organizations like Electronic Frontier Foundation that data caps don’t exist to manage network capacity. They exist to charge customers more money, whether that comes in the form of overage fees or convincing customers to upgrade to a more expensive plan.
As of now, Comcast has not said anything about what it will do once January 2022 roles around.