Comcast Data Cap: What You Really Need to Know

Comcast Data Cap, What You Really Need To Know

It’s completely normal to hear how people are trying to find ways to have their mobile data usage under control since the last thing they want to do is go over their limit. If you do go over, you know what that means: you’ll have to pay more. This obsession over how to stay within our limits is something we are all used to dealing with when it comes to our mobile data but something we don’t deal with when using our home broadband.

If you have unlimited data with your home Internet, enjoy it while you can at the current price you pay. There will come a time when you will be obsessing over not going over your data limit on your home broadband as well. That is exactly what Comcast has done, and what is even worse is that other companies such as Century Link have already jumped on the data cap bandwagon. Stewart Ewing, CenturyLink chief financial officer, has said that the company plans to start trials later this year.

As of now, the limit is 300GB, and if you were to go over that limit, you would be forced to pay $10 for every 50GB you go over. If you don’t use your computer for much, maybe just to check your favorite online newspaper or read the latest Make Tech Easier articles, you will have no problem staying within the limit. Comcast themselves said that 98% of their customers don’t go over the 300GB limit, but there are exceptions. (Yes Netflix, you’re that exception.)

Comcast_Data_Cap_Watching

So how much would you be able to use Netflix and not go over the 300GB? Here is what you can watch:

  • all ten episodes of Master of None
  • Every Lego cartoon
  • all twenty-one female stand-up comedy specials
  • just over half of the West Wing Series
  • three episodes short of the American version of The Office

You can also watch every movie starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Denzel Washington, Leo DeCaprio, Will Smith, Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale on Netflix. The list keeps going on. In short, you can still watch a lot of shows with the data limit.

But, how would you feel if I told you that because of this data cap, we are at risk of being able to enjoy services such as 4K streaming or any other services that need a lot of data? Unless you want to run out of data in the first three days of the month, you will need to make some tough decisions.

You may not care too much about this because you’re not a Comcast or CenturyLink Customer, but you should. Why? Because when Comcast does something, other companies tend to follow. What is Comcast’s goal? To increase their profits, like any other company, and that is why it’s not a matter of IF your current Internet provider will add data caps, but a matter of WHEN.

Comcast_Data_Cap_Hulu_Netflix

You could say that Comcast was forced to do this because of the cable cord cutting trend. Users saved money by getting rid of their monthly cable bill and just satisfied their entertainment needs by using more of their unlimited data streaming their favorite shows from services such as Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube. But, Comcast and other companies that follow will indeed prevent future streaming services from ever being as successful as Netflix if they keep this data cap.

This data cap is also something that the gamers of the world are really going to hate because of all the updates and games they will be downloading on their consoles. If you easily go over 300GB every month due to gaming and streaming, it looks like you might not have any other choice but to pay that extra cash Comcast wants you to pay and get unlimited data. Remember, you can track your bandwidth by using your ISP’s tool that shows you how much bandwidth you have used. Hopefully the tool will be frequently updated, so you know how much you have used.

The best way to find out if you will be affected by Comcast’s data cap is by calling the company and letting them know about your particular case since some users are saying that they don’t have the data cap yet while others are already “enjoying it.” Perhaps it depends on the area you live in.

It’s clear that if we want unlimited bandwidth, we are going to have to pay more than what we are currently paying. I’m just wondering how much we will have to pay in the next few years for something that was once at a reasonable price. Have you been affected by the data cap? Let us know in the comments.

8 comments

  1. While I have not been affected by a cap (at least I don’t think so) I have been affected by price creep. I get my phone, TV and Internet from one provider. I have been with the provider for 10-15 years. While the phone and Internet prices have remained pretty much steady over the years, the price of cable increases every year without fail. It isn’t like we get more channels or better service for that increase. In fact, they did notify me when 5-6 years ago they switched to better modems. The only way I found out was I wanted to go to a faster router and was checking which ones were compatible with the provider’s modems.

    The action by Comcast will lead to shrinking caps and increasing prices for unlimited bandwidth. I could see Comcast and other providers reducing the cap to something like 50GB and charging $1 or more per each 1 GB over the cap. One way or another, the providers WILL get their money. We will look fondly back on the good ol’ days of cable TV before people got the bright idea to cut the cord.

    • Hi Dragonmouth,
      It´s good to hear from you again. It´s been a while. Hope you are doing well. You´re right, it´s just going to get more expensive every year but for the same service. The cable and Internet companies can basically change their limits and prices whenever they want. All we can do is either pay or leave, it´s not like they will actually listen to our complaints. At least, I don´t think so. Thanks for commenting. =-)

      • “All we can do is either pay or leave, it´s not like they will actually listen to our complaints. At least, I don´t think so”
        That is what we have our putative representatives in the government for, to protect us from rapacious companies and industries. “Putative” because they represent themselves and take money from the companies raping us, their constituents.

        • Hi Dragonmouth,
          Who knows when those in the government are going to do something that will result in the users being the real winners. I hope it´s soon. =-)

  2. My family has had Mediacom internet since they offered it to residential customers. They rolled out data caps about a year and a half ago. There are only 2 cable providers where we live, Mediacom and Wow.
    Wow has great internet but lousy cable.
    Mediacom has great cable, but now they’ve got a 350 GB cap on the “Prime Plus” plan. “Prime” has 250 and “Launch” has a meager 150 GB cap. You can upgrade to “Ultra”, “Ultra Plus”, and Ultra Plus 3T” with 1, 2, and 3 TB respectively, but they also increase the speed you can use as well as the price.
    My family of 4 has 2 gamers, 4 netflix users, 1 remote desktop user, 3 music streamers, 1 constant skype user, and 2 internet power users. We break our data cap every month and have to pay more on our bill than what we did before the data caps.
    Since cable companies have gone all digital with their video feeds, it’s just data flowing through that copper now. Someone did some math and, assuming you are using an HD MPEG2 stream (standard), it takes about 12 Mbps to stream. 1 hour of this is 5.4 GB. The cable companies let you have TV on 24/7 if you’d like. Assuming a setup like many families have with 2 cable boxes which can tune in to 2 cable streams at once, 1 day of constant 4-tuner use, you’d use 518 GB of data. They’ll let you do this in month that have 31 days, so a month of full usage looks like 16 TB. That’s insane. They’d effectively let you use 16 terabytes in a month if you use it through their fancy schmancy cable boxes to have the TVs on, but if you use a cable modem, they’ll only let that access 300 (comcast) or 350 (mediacom) gigabytes in a month for internet usage.
    Now, you may wonder, what about H.264? Well, that’s not standard for cable streams (as far as I can tell), but let’s play with that. H.264 uses about half that amount of bandwidth for the same signal. Assuming 4 H.264 HD streams going 24/7 for 31 days, you’re still in the terabyte range of data usage which the internet data caps don’t even come close to.
    Data is data, guys. This disparity doesn’t seem right to me.
    ~~~
    note: this was mostly quick, back of the napkin math using bitrates and metadata reported by VLC from a live HDTV stream. If I’ve miscalculated something, please let me know. If you’re in the industry and can prove me wrong, by all means do!

    • Hi Matt,
      Wow, how long it take you to come to that conclusion? Very precise information there. =-)

      • Not very long… I just threw some stuff into my iPhone calculator after looking up some basic info on Google. The idea isn’t original, either. Logan at TekSyndicate has talked about it shortly in one of their videos. I wish I had more time when I was writing this so I could go into more detail with H.264, and I may do a followup comment, but the class week has begun and the homework just came in like a wrecking ball.

        • Hi Matt,
          Your follow up comment is welcomed. Hope that the homework is not too much and doesn´t stress you out too much.=-)

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