Comcast announced data caps in 18 more states. Those states look very, very familiar.
If you woke up in The United States of Comcast (and that would be most of us), you woke up to some very unpleasant news.
Comcast is coming for your data, announcing that 1TB caps will roll out in 18 more states and metro areas as of November 1st. Quite a few major metro areas already suffer from crippling data caps, but Comcast is aggressively widening the scope to encompass entire states.
Collective moaning and conspiracy theories won’t help, but perhaps we can find a correlation that’ll explain exactly what’s behind Comcast’s latest effort to alienate its customers. Our first clue is in the email announcement that existing customers received. You’ll see a concerted effort to quell panic and then a follow-up that seems to hint at what Comcast might really be about here.
See what they did there? “Don’t worry,” Comcast says. “You don’t use that much data. See how far you’d have to go to eat it all up and incur overage fees?” Comcast even attempted to take away the sting on their blog with a cutesy video that explains data caps. We’re not distracted, Comcast. Put your adorable animals away.
If Comcast’s assertion that only 1 percent of their customers actually use 1TB is true, then why even impose a data cap?
Comcast’s XFINITY data plans aren’t staggered to provide more data to faster speed packages, so their move here can’t possibly be to push customers into more expensive packages. Why impose an unpopular policy that will supply limited revenue?
The answer may be fixed wireless. Fixed wireless utilizes 5G technology to bring fiber to homes without the messy infrastructure that—so far—has posed extensive issues for Google Fiber. Comcast isn’t a wireless provider yet, although they’d like to be. But this means they aren’t well situated to take advantage of 5G technology to deliver faster speeds to homes, unlike other telecoms such as AT&T. And if you look at the cities and states where Comcast is pushing out data caps, many of them are exactly the areas where fixed wireless is currently being tested. Comcast conspiracy theories aside, this correlation is probably not a coincidence.
|Comcast Data Caps as of 11/1/2016||Avg. Speed||# of Providers that offer 100 Mbps or more||Major Providers Testing Fixed Wireless?|
|Alabama||44||11||Yes. AT&T, Google Fiber (Huntsville)|
|California||58||15||Yes. AT&T, Google Fiber|
|Colorado||48||14||Yes. Google Fiber (Boulder)|
|Florida||52||16||Yes. Google Fiber bought Webpass, a fixed wireless provider in Miami.|
|Georgia||51||25||Yes. AT&T, Google Fiber (Atlanta)|
|Kansas||43||16||Yes. AT&T, Google Fiber|
|Michigan||56||14||No. But there are many muni-network fixed wireless providers available in Detroit.|
|Missouri||49||19||Yes. Google Fiber, AT&T|
|New Mexico||36||8||Yes. Google Fiber|
|Ohio||43||9||Yes. AT&T (Columbus)|
|Oregon||54||28||Yes. Google Fiber (Oregon)|
|Texas||49||12||Yes. AT&T, Google Fiber (Austin)|
|Utah||60||24||Yes. Google Fiber (Provo)|
Most of these states are enjoying pretty fast speeds and there’s enough competition to suggest that Comcast isn’t necessarily exploiting customers who don’t have other choices. But as fixed wireless becomes ubiquitous in the next decade, Comcast could stand to lose a large portion of its heavy internet users, who would likely migrate to the faster speeds that 5G could provide. Is Comcast looking to cash in now in areas where fixed wireless could experience a real boom? It’s possible. For now, we’ll all just need to buckle down and binge watch Netflix like winter is coming. Because if you’re a Comcast customer, it is. And it’s bringing data caps with it.
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