Comcast Dumps Data Limit, Reacts to Netflix Attack

Dennis Faas's picture

Comcast has announced it will no longer freeze downloading by subscribers who use too much bandwidth. Instead, it will revise the monthly limit, and introduce extra charges for those who go over.

At the moment, the company cracks down on users who consume more than 250 gigabytes (GB) in a month. Comcast first issues a warning, and then may suspend service for customers who refuse to cut down on their data use.

The 250 GB limit will now be set aside while Comcast tests two alternative systems in sample markets.

One alternative will be a system in which all customers operate under a 300 GB limit, regardless of their service package.

The second alternative will be a tiered system in which customers choose their data limit and pay accordingly.

Data Cap Becomes Free Allowance

The big change in Comcast's policy is that customers may now exceed their data limits. Those who do go over the limit will no longer be frozen out, but will be charged an extra $10 for each 50 GB they use. (Source:

To put that into context, users of smartphones who go over their monthly limits can sometimes face penalties of $10 for a single GB of extra data usage.

According to Comcast, some change in policy is necessary because there are now so many ways to consume large amounts of data.

Streaming video seems to be the most popular method for eating up bandwidth, particularly now that people can access services like Netflix on their computers and TVs.

Many of these streaming video services are entirely legal, and even promoted by Comcast.

In the past, subscribers who consumed a lot of bandwidth were immediately assumed to be downloading video and music content illegally. That's no longer Comcast's assumption. (Source:

Comcast Combats Data Limit Critics

Comcast's policy change may also help deflect a recent criticism by the chief of Netflix, Reed Hastings.

He complained that using most legal online video services counts towards his Comcast data limit, but that watching online video via Comcast's own service (marketed under the name "Xfinity") does not count towards that limit.

Hastings argued that this gave Comcast an unfair advantage over Netflix.

Comcast said the criticism was not valid, and explained the differing treatment by saying that Xfinity data is technically carried over the cable TV part of a subscriber's connection rather than over the Internet.

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