If you live in one of the twelve states where Comcast is planning to roll out 1.2TB data caps, we have some moderately good news: you won’t have to start monitoring your bill for extra charges until July. The ISP had planned to start charging customers $10-and-up fees for using more than 1.2TB of data starting this March, but the rollout has been delayed (via The Washington Post). This gives us a few more months until the scourge of Comcast home internet data caps are truly nationwide.
The areas affected are in Comcast’s Northeast region: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, as well as parts of North Carolina and Ohio. If you live in one of those areas, your bill in August could have up to $100 of overage fees for your July use. That’s a lot of extra money, but at least now you have a bit more time to see if you’ll be affected and to make a plan if you are.
The cap was scheduled to roll out this March, but it’s being delayed after Pennsylvania’s attorney general raised objections, saying that now, when we’re struggling with the pandemic and using the internet for work and school, is “not the time to change the rules when it comes to internet data usage and increase costs.” After negotiations, Comcast has agreed to not only push back the data cap start date, but to also waive early cancellation fees for customers who don’t want to be subjected to the caps, according to a press release from the attorney general’s office.
While Comcast customers in the region are probably happy for the delay, the ability to cancel your service with no fees is only useful if you have another ISP that will provide you service, which many across the US do not. The rest of the country has had data caps for a while, and people haven’t liked them. Yet they’ve rolled out anyway because the ISPs have basically no real competition.
Comcast is, however, giving its low-income customers a bit of a break. It announced that it was doubling the speeds of its Internet Essentials plan yesterday, and it’s apparently not going to be imposing data caps on that plan for the rest of 2021. Comcast confirmed to The Verge that this policy was nationwide.
The 1.2TB-plus overage fees will come to the Northeast in July, showing up on August bills. If you go over the 1.2TB limit, you’ll have to pay $10 for every additional 50GB, with the fees capped at $100. You do get one “courtesy” month, where if you go over you won't be charged extra, but after that the fees will start rolling in. Of course, if you find yourself going over often, Comcast is happy to upgrade you to unlimited data for only $30 a month or as part of a $25-a-month xFi Complete bundle.
If you live in the Northeast and are worried about your bill going up come July, Comcast has a tool to check how much data you use. Since that usage is what they’ll be billing you for, you can see if you’re typically over 1.2TB of usage or not — and now, you’ll have a few more months to figure out what to do if you’re consistently over. It is possible you won’t be, though. Back when I had a data cap, I generally stayed under, and I’m a pretty heavy internet user who backs up a lot of photo and video to the cloud.
Disclosure: Comcast is an investor in Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company.