Comcast to Reinstate Bandwidth Caps: Fair or Foul?

Brandon Dimmel's picture

It appears as if one of the largest cable and home Internet service providers in the United States is planning to reinstate monthly bandwidth limits on its many customers. The news is raising new and old questions about net neutrality, Internet fairness, and bandwidth usage caps in general.

Recently, Comcast executive vice president David Cohen told a New York audience that his company plans to reinstate monthly bandwidth caps sometime in the next five years.

Bandwidth Cap System More Fair, Says Exec

Bandwidth is loosely defined as is a measurement of available or consumed data communication resource on a network, such as an Internet connection. (Source:

According to Cohen, a bandwidth cap is not a bad thing. He insists limiting bandwidth represents a much fairer system because those who do not consume much bandwidth (by streaming video or downloading large files, for example) will be able to pay a lower fee.

"People who use more should pay more and people who use less should pay less," Cohen said. He then suggested that, should his company keep bandwidth limits at arm's length, everyone would pay more for their monthly subscriptions. (Source:

In an effort to test these bandwidth limits, Comcast is carrying out several pilot projects across the U.S. These projects allow subscribers to choose a download speed and bandwidth cap that fits their needs, with prices increasing as speeds and caps go up.

Comcast Eyes 300GB Monthly Bandwidth Cap

Comcast is also reportedly exploring a plan that would start all subscribers at a 300 gigabyte (GB) monthly bandwidth cap, with subscribers paying an additional $10 for every 50GB after that.

For the time being, it's unlikely the 300GB limit will present a problem. A recent report from Sandvine showed that the average "cord cutter" -- or someone who has eliminated their cable and satellite television subscriptions in favor of streaming video -- uses about 212GB of data each month. (Source:

But as more video streaming services emerge and those services begin offering more high definition content such as 4K video, that limit may once again present serious issues for Comcast subscribers.

Bandwidth Cap Controversy Not New

This is not the first time Comcast experimented with monthly bandwidth caps.

Back in 2008, it unveiled a 250GB monthly cap that became increasingly unpopular as more and more people turned to video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. In 2011, it was estimated that Netflix consumed approximately 22 percent of all Internet traffic; in 2013, that number grew to 50 percent of all peak Internet traffic in the United States.

Back then, Comcast refused to offer users a higher bandwidth cap for more money, choosing instead to throttle (or heavily downgrade) Internet service to people nearing or exceeding the 250GB cap. This raised a furor among Comcast's many customers, who demanded change. In response to these concerns, Comcast phased out its bandwidth cap in 2012. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

What do you think of bandwidth caps? Do you believe monthly bandwidth limits are fair, or just the opposite? Do you think a 300GB bandwidth cap is reasonable for today's average Internet user? Or is this a sign that America's top Internet service providers, like Comcast, are out of touch with their customers?

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bigjohnt's picture

Don' need no stinkin' caps!

Dakota.Don_2221's picture

Comcast is getting so big that they care little about thier customers. I say no to caps.

Sparkydog's picture

Comcast is an unfair company, both morally and politically. They will allow Al Jazeera, but not Glen Beck's The Blaze show. They also should not be allowed to merge with T/W.

Douglas Godbey's picture

Without becoming Political and shouting about their programming choices, what's the big deal? I don't use Comcast, not available in my area, but I do use streaming services and I willingly pay for them.

Now my big question. What's wrong with you people? You want to pay a single, unchanging, monthly price for all your entertainment? How can you expect Comcast to pay for a movie or dozen and stream them to you for the basic price? You want to see a film, you have to pay the price for the privilege! It ain't a right. When you pay your basic programming bill, what do you get? You get Connected, that's what. Your payment pays for Comcast's power bill, equipment cost, which includes all the inside and outside maintenance, employee wages and the programming itself. So, if you add more programming, you need to pay more. Believe me, it ain't cheap! In fact, streaming video can cost as much as half the total cost of their operations. You had best be careful, however. If you insist the cap goes away, you WILL lose Comcast, simply because they WILL go out of business! Not enough income, they will have fewer services, and they will get fewer and fewer!

Now, if you have a problem with their programming, complain loudly! Or shut them off! Don't want to pay for over-cap costs, don't go over cap! Simple! Go outside and start a ball game with your neighbors, or have a cook-out with a bunch of hot dogs. Turn the stupid TV off!

sssteve72's picture

This is nothing more than business and generating more revenues for a company. Any company wanting to put anyone on a monthly service fee knows this is just a way to generate higher revenue. People paying what they use, BS Comcast, total and utter BS. The cost for internet service is already skyhigh. Just squeezing $5 a month from your subscribers generates over $100 million more a month. PER MONTH!

If Comcast wants to be transparent in this, wait two years and include with every bill each users bandwidth every single month so they can see for themselves how this would affect them. But they don't want you know. They want you to just think it's better and then slip in $5 more on your bill.

Focused100's picture

They want it both ways. Charging the content providers (Netflix) extra and then charging their own subscribers extra for the privilege of watching/downloading. But I don't see them dropping the price for users who use very little bandwidth. Just jacking the price for heavy users.

Their customer service is perennially near the bottom.

They are a PERFECT example of a firm that needs competition to get better and start paying attention to their customers. Google Fiber, where are you when we REALLY need you?

By the way do you know what they call customers who pay the bills?
They don't even consider them customers.
Just the folks who pay the bills.