Over 1.8 Million Comcast Subscribers Would Be Hit With Data Cap Overages

comcast data caps

A huge number of Comcast subscribers are about to get hit with high overage charges on their internet service. Here’s why:

While Comcast continues not worrying too much about cord cutting as a general competitor to their core business, a few recent changes make it obvious they intend to increase revenue from streaming television.

Recently, there have been several key announcements that Comcast intends to continue rolling out their trial program of placing data cap overage fees on customers who exceed 300GB a month. Advertised as a way to get “unlimited streaming data” Comcast intends to charge customers $10 per 50GB extension past this cap, or $30-35 more a month for unlimited bandwidth, depending on their region.

While 300GB sounds reasonable to the average consumer, after all most are indoctrinated by a precedent set by cell phone carriers who charge us for data limits as low as 1GB, it’s only going to become easier to rapidly hit this cap as internet connections and video qualities improve. Comcast’s general comment thus far has been effectively, “Don’t worry about it! Most of our customers won’t even come near to this cap, only those pesky data hogs.” The nonchalant nature of this tone should be reason for pause.

Running the numbers

Comcast has 22.8 million broadband internet customers, and under Comcast’s own admission, 8% routinely go over the new 300GB limit. With that in mind, over 1.8 million current Comcast customers will see overage fees if the internet service provider continues their intended roll-out across all markets.

If even half of these 1.8 million people opt to upgrade their internet service to the unlimited package, we’re talking about a potential increase of $350 million in annual revenue, all from existing subscribers. 

How about the other 92% of customers? Is there reason for worry here? Services often increase their price for the heavy users. It’s also not uncommon to see an inflation in cost over time, Comcast certainly isn’t immune to this. Netflix even had to announce a price increase recently.

But it seems curious that the number was set at 300GB. Why not a number considerably higher if the objective was really to stop those taking advantage of some imaginary system? 300GB is well within reach of the normal consumer.

Will you be affected?

We reported several months ago that the average Netflix subscriber spends upwards of 90 minutes a day watching shows and movies on Netflix. Assuming a standard mix of SD, HD and Ultra HD, Netflix reports that the average hour of Netflix streaming ranges in the 3-7GB range. Right off the bat then, average Netflix consumption is eating up almost 100GB of data a month per household, a third of the cap alone.

This does not take into account other streaming services such as Hulu and Amazon Prime, YouTube videos, music on Spotify, streaming on mobile devices attached to your home wifi and more. When calculating the individual usage habits of the average high speed internet customer, the total monthly data usage average reaches between 160-200GB a month relatively easily, and this number is rapidly increasing.

Great, so Comcast is right, the average customer won’t see any extra charges despite these new caps, at least in the short term. But the number of people affected is going to grow rapidly as internet speeds get faster. We fully expect this initial “8% affected” rate to double within a year. Recently, Comcast announced complete gigabit roll-out by 2018. And in the meantime, even with increases to 75MB/s speeds, it’s not going to take long for a large percentage of users to hit 300GB a month. For example, with a better connection, Netflix can stream the highest quality video, often using up to 7GB an hour, and video quality across all streaming services is only going to improve as well. An active digital household is going to hit 300GB on a monthly basis in no time.

“What better way to collect that lost revenue from cancelled television subscriptions than by throttling data usage with expensive overage charges on digital streams.”

As anyone who understands data usage will tell you, there isn’t a large difference between pumping 300GB of data and 1TB of data through existing infrastructure, so this 300GB number was chosen specifically to capture at least some revenue-boosting share of the streaming market. It’s just too perfect. As the AP states, 300GB is just the right amount to glean some extra revenue from the streaming TV crowd, many of whom are likely without standard television packages themselves. What better way to collect that lost revenue from cancelled television subscriptions than by throttling data usage with expensive overage charges on digital streams.

We believe that this 300GB number has been set specifically to get consumers used to a number that right now seems good enough, but soon will be well within normal data usage. As more and more people turn to streaming video for media consumption, it seems reasonable that the number of people affected by a cap will drastically increase, resulting in a fantastic new revenue stream for Comcast’s cable business.

It’s starting to make sense why they’re perhaps less concerned with cord cutting now, isn’t it?

  • awwfishsticks

    I.. actually think that’s pretty fair. For those people who stream and seed all of this data are using up a lot more bandwidth than they should, or than the rest of us. Possibly causing congestion. That’s not fair to me, an average user.

    • BandwidthHog

      Fuck you average user!!!

    • sc14s

      Congestion is 100% caused by comcast not upgrading its infrastructure to save costs. If you knew anything about the cost its quite literally negligible. Comcast is just trying (as always) to fuck over its customers because it can so that it can get more money. I cant wait for them to get reamed later. People will not forget the shit that we have been put through by this awful corporation.

    • SomeDooD

      Dont buy into it. This is just a way of them trying to get more cash for nothing. They see telecoms getting rich off data plans and they want in on that. That would be fine if they had any real competition, but sadly they are the only choice for many people.

    • Can’t tell if you are still or sheep

      • awwfishsticks

        I’m literally a guy who pays for internet and hasn’t had any issues with it. Simple as that. OH WOW Look a Comcast customer that doesn’t have any problems. This must be -so- rare. Or just the people who don’t have problems with them, don’t have a reason to go public about it because they pay for internet and it works. But the people who do have problems get crazy mad about it and -that- is the stuff you see on the internet. I’m going to say that it’s fair that those who use more of the infrastructure should pay for more. If you eat more food you pay for more. If you commit more crimes, you get charged for more. Why am I paying the same amount as the guy who’s using four or five times as much as me? Did you think of that?

        • Derek712

          Speaking as an old tech, the “problems” people are having are more likely due to the lines in the house and home equipment. It’s not from your neighbor downloading a game or streaming TV. Congestion issues ended when they started throttling people to tiered connections. The reason they have bandwith tiers is because they can control and support based upon what you pay for and still meet their capabilities.

          It’s BS that they are adding a cap though because many have entered 2 year agreements under false pretenses. We all signed up and paid for no cap and now they are changing the rules for 8% of the customers. By the way, that 8% might grow and affect you in a couple years, the way things are progressing.

        • hazy7687

          There’s nothing fair about selling me unlimited internet after me asking numerous times about data caps, always being assured that my area had no such caps, only to have data caps added within three months of signing up with them (under a two year contract no less)

          You know what would be really fair? How about all you people who don’t use much bandwidth get a discount on your bill thereby encouraging you to use less bandwidth in the future and offsetting us evil Netflix streamers? The whole concept of finite bandwidth is total bull btw, bandwidth is not only cheap, but also not some finite resource; all they have to do is actually invest in their infrastructure, but why bother when you can just charge people more and/or throttle them instead right? But no please fishsticks keep siding with the multi-billion dollar corporation who’s still using copper and dicking over its customers, they need your support.

          • awwfishsticks

            I’m not siding with them. I’m saying that I’m a normal guy whom this change does not affect. Good day, sir.

        • kagil

          We aren’t talking about food. We’re talking about data. Learn how it really works and you’ll understand a lot better. It’s not food, and they don’t provide it. They are a carrier. Ask yourself why the same service is in the UK for $6 a month. Competition, that’s why. Then realize this isn’t about ‘consumption’ it’s about LIMITING COMPETITION.

    • Broque

      We have no effect on your personal bandwith, I pay for the higher speed, its NOT FAIR for me to pay for faster speeds and then be hit with data overages. What you don’t seem to understand is that Comcast has unlimited bandwith…it charges its customers for different levels of bandwith. If your internet isn’t fast, it’s because you aren’t paying for the faster speeds.

      • awwfishsticks

        But you’re consuming far more data that I do and yet, I probably pay the same as you do. Why aren’t I paying less right now?

        • dex1701

          Why don’t I pay less for watching TV for fewer hours/month than other people with the same TV package as I have?

          • awwfishsticks

            I don’t pay for TV, but the question is fundamentally the exact same as mine and is equally as valid.

          • kagil

            Because the TV is there, like the data is there, and the cable…is there. And the capacity IS THERE. So they don’t worry about you watching tv 24/7 and me not watching at all. They don’t have to worry about competition because no one has cable and direct tv. But people do cut their cable tv off to stream Roku or Netflix. So this is a business move to try to force people to buy their TV service.

        • kagil

          It’s not like comcast owns the freaking data! They’ve admitted the problem is not congestion. This is just a greed move.

        • Broque

          Do you pay less because you don’t use all the minutes in a phone plan? You are paying for the ability to connect to the internet, and that ability comes with a data cap….

    • dex1701

      I’m one of those that’s likely to exceed the 300GB cap some months…I use my connection for work, I have multiple computers downloading updates and such, we connect our smartphones to our wifi when we’re at home, we occasionally stream video (especially my son), we use digitally-distributed software, etc. Here’s the thing, though: I already pay for a higher bandwidth tier because I know I’ll use it. Why should I pay extra – AGAIN – for data usage when I’m already paying significantly more for a higher bandwidth tier because I know I’ll use more data than a casual web surfer? They want me to pay for more bandwidth, and then pay AGAIN when I actually use the bandwidth I’m already paying more for. This is my problem with the caps. I’m happy to pay for a higher tier, but when they also start including an extra “gotcha” to squeeze even more money out of me on the back-end I get pretty annoyed.

      • awwfishsticks

        Why must I pay just as much as some guy who uses more data that I do, who has the same bandwidth as I do?

        • dex1701

          I totally get your point, and I don’t disagree with it. That said, the caps don’t address that point. The caps only serve to charge people that use their service heavily more money, and Comcast has all but admitted that the increase has nothing to do with building infrastructure to support higher usage…but rather to prevent users from subscribing to competitors’ streaming services. The majority of my data usage has nothing to do with services that compete with Comcast’s, so my higher bill will just be collateral damage in this, which is pretty irritating.

          If Comcast was addressing the issue you’re raising, they could offer CHEAPER plans for those that don’t mind their data transfer being capped. It’s a completely separate issue. I suppose if it makes you feel better to see people using more data than you being penalized, then that’s something, but that does nothing but provide a (IMO misguided) sense of justice rather than addressing your concern.

    • kagil

      They’ve already admitted the problem is not congestion, we’re talking tcp/ip. it routes around congestion.

  • Japheth

    if i used 500 gigs a month this does not effect you awwfishsticks and if you think it does than maybe you should research it and not believe the people trying to get more money and rated the worse company in the world

  • Japheth

    also awwfishsticks that sounds like i dont know maybe you are from comcast

  • John Gannon

    This shit should be illegal.

    • John Lalani

      lol +1 for anarchy

  • Christian Dunham

    Bring it too my area you fuckwit bitches. I’ll will switch to WHOEVER your competitor is I don’t care if their service is slower or worse than yours

  • drguru

    What are the new rules with the FCC now?
    How does capping a “Utility” like this, have any affect on new laws in place?


    This month alone, my house has hit around 750 gigs and we have about 6 days left on our billing cycle.

    If this cap does go back to 300, then we’re in trouble. lolol

  • Saxy

    Streaming is only part of the equation here. Halo 5 is almost 50GB to download. If you purchase and download 2 – 3 games per month you will hit the 300 GB limit quickly. In Atlanta Comcast charges almost 80 per month for their internet service. If you want unlimited Bandwidth that adds an additional $35 plus taxes. There is no competition. You only other choice is AT&T and they cap your Data at 200 GB. Many consumers have no choice.

  • Matt Griffin


    This is the form to send in complaints to the FCC about data caps. If these 1.8 million people filled out the form, the FCC might do something about it

  • Ed Boyer

    What I think is funny, Datacaps because increase usage. Internet Transit prices are super cheap, Less than 2cents per gigabyte of data. So 300GB costs comcast about $6 per month, if they dont have a direct connection to the other party. In most cases large companies do have direct connections. These connections cost $0 for usage.

    So companies like comcast are seeming losing cable tv subscribers and they see an opportunity to put datacaps in place to make up for lost revenue.

    Also, they don’t tell you that data transit prices decrease each year. Even though they creep up their prices every year, with fees & taxes & price rate increases.

    So don’t be a fool, Fill out a FCC complaint on Data Caps.

  • angmarti

    Cable / Internet Service Providers should be regulated as utility companies. Internet has become more ubiquitous than old land lines telephone services and have become duopolies in most regions of the US.