Comcast is rolling out nationwide data caps this November, covering the majority of their service areas.
At first glance, 1TB of monthly data seems like a pretty high number to reach when it comes to internet usage for the average consumer. Right now the average Comcast customer uses only 75GB a month, with approximately two million of their customers using more than 300GB a month. TWC reports via the WSJ that their average customer uses 141GB a month, but is increasing 40% every year.
“Literally the week you cut the cord, you increase your usage by more than 30%,” University of North Carolina economics professor Jonathan Williams told the WSJ.
For those who routinely consume content through services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, the average hour of streaming HD video uses about 3GB of data per hour. This gives quite a bit of margin to watch dozens of movies and TV shows without approaching 1TB of monthly data usage.
But technology is advancing, video streaming services are becoming more commonplace in the average household, and consumer demand for the highest quality video is increasing at a rapid clip. Netflix now has an Ultra HD option which uses over 7GB of data an hour and plans to expand their 4k offerings even further.
And live sports, once thought to be the last remaining stronghold of cable television, is moving digital. Instead of watching traditional television broadcasts of games, many folks are turning to streaming services for ease of use and access on mobile devices like tablets and cell phones. We interviewed Sling TV’s Chief Product Officer Ben Weinberger this week, and he said every Sunday is seeing massive subscriber growth on their RedZone streaming package. Watching the NFL Online got a lot easier this fall, as Sling and the NFL agreed to partner for digital distribution packages.
So considering that in the near future, ultra HD streams of major sports, paired with services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Sling TV, will be using data at a rate between 7-10GB an hour, it all the sudden becomes clear that 1TB of data per month isn’t that far-fetched.
Comcast and other internet services are positioning themselves now to profit as consumer demand for data continues to increase.
It’s easier than ever to cut the cord and still consume over 80% of most content for a monthly bill far lower than a traditional cable package. But with new data caps in place, this might not be true for long.
One of the main benefits of cutting the cord is lowering monthly bills, but if Comcast and other services soon require $50 for ‘unlimited data usage’ it’s hard to imagine the cost savings remain.
The other benefit of cutting the cord is simplification. But if we’re forced to sit and monitor data usage to ensure that we don’t reach some arbitrarily chosen number, then this benefit also soon fades.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.