August 17, 2015

Comcast Data Caps: The reason behind the 300 GB per month limit

Comcast Data Caps: The reason behind the 300 GB per month limit

Say what you will about Comcast
 and their customer service, but the company does provide the
fastest internet speeds
amongst all nationwide ISPs. As we highlighted earlier this month, Comcast Xfinity delivers an average download speed of 104Mbps alongside an average
upload speed of 12.7Mbps.
Curious about the rationale behind the data cap — is it technical? is it arbitrary? — a Twitter account last week asked Jason Livingood — Comcast’s VP
of Internet services — to chime in on the issue.

Livingood, perhaps surprisingly, responded with an honest and candid answer. In short, he said he didn’t know the underlying reason, though his answer
effectively confirmed that the data cap limitation has nothing to do with improving the overall user experience.
So clearly, the data cap limitation wasn’t borne of engineering considerations, but rather a seemingly arbitrary business policy.

Is this cause for outrage? Not really. Truth be told, Comcast has indicated that more than 98% of its customers don’t ever go over the 300 GB cap. Still,
given how much data usage has increased in recent years (we’re lookin’ at you, Netflix), it’s nice to know that the limit is somewhat arbitrary and (one
would imagine) subject to change once bandwidth usage increases dramatically in the months and years ahead. Once 4K video streaming becomes commonplace,
for instance, 300 GB of data a month will all of a sudden seem like nothing.

Putting 4K video aside for a moment, even Apple’s rumored TV subscription service might warrant a re-evaluation of Comcast’s data caps. It’s one thing
for folks to browse the web and watch Netflix here and there, but if Apple’s TV subscription service catches on, the amount of video coming down the pipes
of all ISPs will be incredibly higher.

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