Comcast To Regulators: Data Caps? These? Nooo! These Are Just... Fuzzy Friendly Flexible Consumption Plans For Friends
from the friends-who-pay-more dept
Comcast has been trying to make this argument for a while, even demanding a correction from GigaOm when it referred to these plans as data caps. However, now it's made this argument in a regulatory filing with the New York Public Service Commission in support of its merger with Time Warner Cable. In a section responding to the concerns that some have raised about the merger, Comcast attacks the worries about data caps head on:
First, Comcast does not have “data caps” today. Comcast announced almost two years ago that it was suspending enforcement of its prior 250 GB excessive usage cap and that it would instead be trialing different pricing and packaging options to evaluate options for subscribers – options that reflect evolving Internet usage and that are based on the desire to provide flexible consumption plans, including a plan that enables customers who want to use more data the option to pay more to do so as well as a plan for those who use less data the option to save some money. As has been well publicized for some time now – including through Comcast’s own website – these trials are ongoing and currently cover a small minority of customers. Some of these trials include a data usage plan that allows customers who use very little Internet each month to receive a discount on their service fee, and variations on a plan that provide customers with the ability to buy additional increments of usage if they exceed a base amount (starting at 300 GB) that is included with their service. As it turns out, only a very small percentage of Comcast customers in the trials go over 300 GB in any given month, so few customers see increased costs because of the data plans and Comcast has seen no evidence that the data plans discourage usage, which has generally continued to increase in and outside of the trial markets.In other words... Comcast is, in fact, testing a data cap. They just don't want you to call it that. Because it's flexible.
Jon Brodkin, over at Ars Technica, notes that the FCC's own working group on data caps -- which included a Comcast VP -- defines data caps in a way that makes it clear that Comcast's plans are, in fact, data caps.
A cap is rarely, if ever, a hard and fast ceiling on a customer's ability to access the network. A cap is usually better understood as a threshold after which the user is subject to a different set of conditions for access, such as movement to a higher priced tier, different product or different speeds. As discussed below, another way of thinking of this is as the boundary between different ‘tiers' of service.Though, there is a footnote (perhaps added at the behest of the Comcast VP) that Comcast "does not have any caps in place but is trialing two UBP [usage-based pricing] plans."
Either way, the point is pretty clear. To basically everyone who doesn't work for a giant broadband provider, Comcast is testing data caps. Time Warner Cable has tested them in the past. And, furthermore, as we wrote about back in May, in candid moments Comcast will admit that it wants to roll those data caps out to everyone within a few years. Having Time Warner Cable under its belt would certainly help on that front...