Leaked Comcast Docs Confirm What Everybody Knew: Broadband Usage Caps Are About Profit, Not Congestion

from the you're-bad-at-bullshit dept

For many years the broadband industry relentlessly argued that broadband usage caps were necessary to protect networks from congestion. Unless ISPs were allowed to meter broadband usage, we were told, the rise in Internet video would clog the world's tubes, resulting in a mammoth network apocalypse known as the exaflood. Years later, with the exaflood debunked as fear mongering nonsense and most engineers pointing out that caps don't really fix congestion anyway, the broadband industry was forced to admit half of the obvious: that broadband usage caps weren't about congestion.

Still, as the nation's biggest ISP and current leading proponent of the "necessity" of usage caps, Comcast has tried to tap dance around this fact. Until now. On the heels of the news that Comcast was expanding its usage caps and overage fees yet again, an employee leaked Comcast's talking points about caps to 4Chan and Reddit. The six-page support document confirms what everybody already knew; namely that usage caps are about raising rates to protect legacy TV revenues, not about congestion. Employees are told:
• Do say: "Fairness and providing a more flexible policy to our customers."

• Don't say: "The program is about congestion management." (It is not.)
Yes, as Comcast has shifted away from the congestion excuse it has tried to argue that imposing a glorified rate hike on all of its users is somehow about...fairness. Under Comcast's new proposal, customers face a usage cap of 300 GB a month, after which they pay $10 per each 50 GB consumed. Users also have the option of paying $30 to $35 to return their connection to its original, unlimited status. Of course nobody under the proposal pays less, and understandably, users suddenly forced to pay $30 to $35 more for the same connection they had yesterday aren't seeing the fairness.

The document also reiterates Comcast's frequent insistence that these aren't "usage caps," they're "flexible data plans." Employees are told:
• Do say: "Data usage plan"

• Don't say: "Data Cap" (This is not a cap. We do not limit a customer's use of the Internet it any way at or above 300 GB)"
Comcast was already quite literally the least liked company in the country thanks to abysmal customer service. Now, despite breathless proclamations that it's trying to renovate its public image, the cable giant apparently thinks it's a good idea to not only raise rates, but insult its customers' collective intelligence. Of course when you don't have any meaningful competition you can do pretty much whatever you'd like -- something that Comcast is increasingly making abundantly clear.

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  • icon
    limbodog (profile), 10 Nov 2015 @ 8:20am

    And here's the result of that leak:

    ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2015 @ 8:30am

    This is what Monopolies do

    You were warned. You didn't do anything about it so enjoy your increased cost without increase in service!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2015 @ 8:40am

    all thanks to members of Congress and their greed! these are the bigger criminals! always concerned first and foremost about their own bank accounts rather than about their electorate being treated openly and fairly! but, in all honesty, name a single country where anyone is more important than politicians!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2015 @ 8:44am

      Re:

      and thanks to local governments that negotiate regional monopolies.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2015 @ 9:03am

        Re: Re:

        But there is some good news

        Colorado Residents Vote to Bypass Protectionist State Broadband Laws

        Colorado Voters Abolish Ban on Government-Owned Broadband

        Wow, the people actually being able to overturn corporate written laws? Practically unheard of and very encouraging. Most of the time business interests are very effective at getting the laws they want and once those laws are passed it's very very difficult to change them (ie: look at copy protection laws/lengths and taxicab medallion laws among many others). Hopefully this becomes a trend ... (I can see business interests are afraid).

        With respect to the TPP

        Mass Mobilization To Stop The TPP Announced

        While this may or may not work it's nice to see more and more people participating in the legislative process. Encouraging and if it keeps happening more and more eventually these issues will become more and more difficult for the corrupt mainstream media to keep most everyone uninformed about and public pressure (in opposed to business pressure) will have a greater impact on our laws.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 10 Nov 2015 @ 8:47am

    Truth by technicality, the best kind of truth

    Don't say: "Data Cap" (This is not a cap. We do not limit a customer's use of the Internet it any way at or above 300 GB)"

    In the same way, 'speed limits' don't actually stop you from going over the listed speed, you're just penalized if you do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Charles Wegrzyn, 10 Nov 2015 @ 8:51am

    Data Caps...from a historical perspective...bunk!

    Does anyone see the equivalence between data caps today and how telephone service used to be sold? You bought it by the minute! It is the same crap today as it was yesterday. It is only grab for money!

    As soon as Verizon FiOS starts I'll work to convince my town (in MA) to build out its own network. It isn't all that difficult.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2015 @ 9:28am

      Re: Data Caps...from a historical perspective...bunk!

      With landline phones, you were never charged for answering a call (or for making local calls—the line I used for internet was busy for 700+ hours per month). With cellphones, you can avoid paying for airtime by choosing not to answer. But you have no ability to reject an internet packet.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        nonsense, 26 Jan 2017 @ 9:43am

        Re: Re: Data Caps...from a historical perspective...bunk!

        Perhaps you remember it as such, but many places, (especially non-US), did charge by the minute. Some phones actually had a rolling-clock usage meter on them.

        I believe you are pointing to long distance, yes. But believe it or not, plenty of networks have used the 'by minute' technique with great success. To them, for awhile, then stopped because of every reason.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2015 @ 12:38pm

      Re: Data Caps...from a historical perspective...bunk!

      Petition your county, anyway. Check up on the local ordnances regarding building a new network, check the costings, and see if you can't get a company like Google to assist with funding.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2015 @ 9:05am

    So what is "fair" about doubling the cost of providing the same shitty service?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2015 @ 1:58pm

      Re:

      So what is "fair" about doubling the cost of providing the same shitty service?

      Capitalism isn't "fair" and isn't intended to be.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2015 @ 9:05am

    This one is fishy

    Why would they put "(it is not)" in the document? It seems like information they wouldn't give out to low level employees that don't need to know that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2015 @ 9:29am

      Re: This one is fishy

      They're changing talking points from "we need caps for congestion management" to "we need caps for fairness". They want to make sure their call center thralls don't repeat the old talking point.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2015 @ 9:48am

    Comcast says I watch too much Netflix and I'm a bandwidth hog.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Almost Anonymous (profile), 10 Nov 2015 @ 11:20am

    Keep reading the document...

    • Do say: "Have a nice day!"

    • Don't say: "Hahahaha, you dumbass, thanks for the free money!" (It is free money.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 10 Nov 2015 @ 11:27am

    Every Comcast customer in those areas should call Comcast and tell them that if the caps are about fairness, then they should get a reduction in their bills for using less. As one user on another site suggested, since Comcast has priced 50GB at $10, then users should only be charged $10 for every 50GB they consume. If a user only uses 20GB, they should only pay $10 that month.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2015 @ 12:03pm

    Step 1: make billions in profits

    Step 2: use a small percentage of those profits to bribe senators into passing laws that only support you

    Step 3: raise prices while under delivering you product for massive short term profits

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    afn29129 (profile), 10 Nov 2015 @ 12:09pm

    Poor Comcast CS Reps

    Can a Comcast Customer Support Rep look themselves in the mirror in the morning without flinching. I sure hope the pay is worth it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    michael, 10 Nov 2015 @ 2:38pm

    I thought the tubes were clogged

    Remember when Congress needed to protect Big Internet from net neutrality because the series of tubes were getting clogged?

    I'm shocked to hear that that was all bullshit. /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DEN Boomband, 15 Mar 2016 @ 2:19am

    Usage Caps

    This is useful information that has been leaked by Comcast about Internet Service fares.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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