Comcast Expands Usage Caps, Still Pretending This Is A Neccessary Trial Where Consumer Opinion Matters
from the pay-more-for-less,-you're-welcome dept
As we’ve noted for some time, Comcast continues to expand the company’s usage cap “trial” into more and more markets. As a clever, lumbering monopoly, Comcast executives believe if they move slowly enough — consumers won’t realize they’re the frog in the boiling pot metaphor. But as we’ve noted time and time again, Comcast usage caps are utterly indefensible price hikes on uncompetitive markets, with the potential for anti-competitive abuse (since Comcast’s exempting its own services from the cap).
This is all dressed up as a “trial” where consumer feedback matters to prop up the flimsy narrative that Comcast is just conducting “creative price experimentation.”
Last week, Comcast quietly notified customers that the company’s caps are expanding once again, this time into Chicago and other parts of Illinois, as well as portions of Indiana and Michigan. Comcast recently raised its cap from 300 GB to one terabyte in response to signals from the FCC that the agency might finally wake up to the problems usage caps create. And while that’s certainly an improvement, it doesn’t change the fact that usage caps on fixed-line networks are little more than an assault on captive, uncompetitive markets.
To sell customers on the exciting idea of paying more money for the exact same (or less) service, a notice sent to Comcast users last week informs them they’re lucky to now be included in the “terabyte internet experience,” as if this is some kind of glorious reward being doled out to only the company’s most valued customers. The company also tries to shine up its decision to start charging users $50 more per month if they want to avoid the cap as an act of altruistic convenience, and tries to make the caps seem generous by measuring them in terms of gaming hours and photos:
“We know customers want a carefree online experience that doesn’t require them to think about their data usage plan, and we offer a plan that does just that…What can you do with a terabyte? Stream about 700 hours of HD video, play more than 12,000 hours of online games, or download 600,000 high-res photos in a month.”
How generous. You can also check your email account 8 billion times under our totally unnecessary restrictions. As we’ve long noted, caps are solely about protecting legacy TV revenues from Internet video, while creating new ways (zero rating) to distort the level playing field. And as AT&T and Verizon give up on unwanted DSL customers and cable’s broadband monopoly grows in many areas, this incredible “experience” will be headed in your direction sooner than you probably realize.