Comcast's 300 GB cap spreads to Atlanta, but don't worry, it's just an experiment

17 November 2013 by Steve Blum

Comcast just wants to make it safe for the rest of us.

As the nation’s largest cable operator, Comcast is in a position to play market leader in moving the industry toward standard monthly broadband usage caps and overage charges. Its latest move is to trial a 300 gigabyte monthly limit in the Atlanta market, with a ten buck charge for every extra 50 GB.

Comcast plans to put helpful pop-ups in subscribers’ browsers, to let them know when the end is near…

You will be provided with in-browser and email notifications as you near the 300 GB per month limit, specifically at 80%, 90% and 100% of usage. If you use more than the 300 GB included in your data usage plan in a month, you will receive an email notifying you that you have reached 300 GB and that another 50 GB has been allocated to your account, and an in-browser notification to the same effect. You will also receive in-browser notifications at 110% and 125% of your notification as a reminder of this activity.

The new limits go into effect in Atlanta and some other small southern markets in December. For now, Comcast will also allow a handful of grace months as customers get used to operating within the caps.

According to a story on GigaOm, Comcast is saying the Atlanta cap roll out is just a trial, and not necessarily what it will do nationwide. And that it really doesn’t matter anyway because Comcast claims “98 percent of users would never hit the cap and that median usage is now at 16 GB to 18 GB per month”.

The biggest driver of increasing consumer Internet traffic is video, particularly Netflix and YouTube. Which is a direct challenge to Comcast’s core content delivery business. Slowing down that growth is a way for Comcast to meet that threat. Or at least make customers pay for it.