Xfinity Mobile will now charge subscribers an additional $20 per month if they want to stream HD video with an unlimited data plan. The Comcast-owned wireless service announced that it would add this fee over a year ago when it first began capping video resolution on unlimited plans to 480p. But until yesterday, customers could call and ask to have that limitation waived at no cost.
There are two other caveats to Xfinity Mobile’s unlimited data plan: speeds are throttled after 20GB each month, and hot spots are permanently limited to 600 Kbps. Those restrictions have already been in place, and there’s no way to lift either of them.
“By the Gig” plans are now a better value
At the same time, Xfinity Mobile is actually removing the 480p streaming cap from its “by the gig” plans, seemingly as a way to encourage customers to choose those instead. These plans will still be limited to 720p streaming on phones and 1080p streaming on tablets, but Comcast says that’s because of restrictions imposed by Verizon, the network its wireless service is offered on.
Xfinity Mobile is dropping the price on its by the gig plans, too. Before, you’d pay $12 per gigabyte, no matter what. But under the new plans, you can get 3GB or 10GB of data at a discount, so long as you pay for that extra data up front. Getting 3GB of data now costs $30 instead of $36, and getting 10GB now costs $60 instead of $120. Data beyond the bucket you buy into is still an additional $12 per gigabyte. These plans are shared across an account, whereas its $45 unlimited plan is offered per line. (One other small change: Xfinity Mobile is removing the free 100MB per month of data that Xfinity internet subscribers used to receive.)
Today’s changes are largely good news if you’re an Xfinity Mobile customer using its by the gig plans. If you’re on an unlimited plan, though, things may get more expensive for you. The changes are designed to get you to pay more for HD streaming or to switch over to an unthrottled per gigabyte plan where the carrier likely hopes you’ll use less data.
Comcast said last month that Xfinity Mobile had nearly 1.6 million lines of service, double where it was at a year prior.
Disclosure: Comcast is an investor in Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company.