Comcast Wants Data Caps in the Next Five Years

Comcast dreams of charging users based on how much they use the Internet

Comcast plans to roll out “data caps” to all users within the next five years. The Internet giant names this “usage-based billing” and it looks like the company is quite keen about these plans.

David Cohen, Comcast executive vice president, has told investors that he predicts that Comcast will have a usage-based billing model rolled out across its footprint within the next five years.

The company has some 20 million broadband consumers and it hopes to have even more by merging with Time Warner Cable. It serves quite a big part of the United States and some customers already have data caps on their contracts.

For instance, customers in several cities have a cap of 300 GB of data per month and each extra 50 GB costs $10 more. According to previous statements, about 98 percent of all customers don’t even use the 300 GB per month.

Even so, the company plans to raise the limit to the 500GB in the next five years, to make sure the majority of users won’t go over it.

“I would also predict that the vast majority of our customers would never be caught in the buying the additional buckets of usage, that we will always want to say the basic level of usage at a sufficiently high level that the vast majority of our customers are not implicated by the usage-based billing plan. And that number may be 350—that may be 350 gig a month today, it might be 500 gig a month in five years,” Cohen told investors.

The company does intend to create more data usage plans, but it doesn’t think it’s going to be such an issue. Furthermore, it wants to avoid a situation where 80 percent of customers are implicated by usage-based billing and are all buying different packets of usage. “I don’t think that’s the model that we rare heading forward, but five years ago I don’t know that I would have heard of something called in iPad. So very difficult to make predictions,” Cohen said.

Of course, these plans my fly out the window if the FCC rolls out its net neutrality rules since differentiating between users, content, site, platforms, and more.

Even Cohen admitted that he wouldn’t be stunned if the FCC considered data caps for its proposed list of rules regarding net neutrality, “because people have tried to make this an open Internet issue.”

The FCC is set to present its list of rules later today.

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