Comcast has again delayed a plan to impose data-usage limits on Xfinity Internet broadband customers in its northeast U.S. region — which sparked a backlash from customers and politicos — this time, until sometime in 2022.
Originally, the cable giant said it would start enforcing usage caps in 14 states and Washington, D.C., and levying surcharges of up to $100 for usage that exceeds the caps beginning in April 2021. The company then pushed the start date to July, after Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro raised objections because of the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “This is not the time to change the rules when it comes to internet data usage and increase costs,” Shapiro said in a statement earlier this month.
Now Comcast is kicking this can down the road again — into next year.
In a statement Thursday (Feb. 18), Comcast said that it is “delaying implementation of our new data plan in our Northeast markets until 2022. We recognize that our data plan was new for our customers in the Northeast, and while only a very small percentage of customers need additional data, we are providing them with more time to become familiar with the new plan.”
The new data plan will affect Comcast broadband customers in the northeast U.S. who are not on an unlimited data plan. For Xfinity Internet customers who use more than 1.2 terabytes of data in one month, blocks of 50 gigabytes will automatically be added for an additional fee of $10 each plus tax (up to $100 maximum).
Comcast already imposes the 1.2 TB cap and data-overage charges in 27 states. It’s looking to broaden the plan to customers in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and parts of North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and West Virginia.
The usage caps and surcharges are “based on a principle of fairness,” Comcast has said previously. “Those who use more internet data, pay more. And those who use less internet data, pay less.”
The cable operator, in announcing the postponement of usage caps in the Northeast until 2022, noted that it is providing free access to anyone via 1.5 million public Wi-Fi hotspots for free across its footprint; is working with cities and schools to connect K-12 students at home; and provides free Wi-Fi at hundreds of community centers nationwide.
According to Comcast, about 95% of Xfinity Internet customers consume less than 1.2 TB of data monthly. Most broadband subscribers will not be affected by the usage caps “even with the spike in usage as customers are educating and working from home during COVID-19,” the company has said.