Comcast told its Internet customers Thursday they no longer have a 250-gigabyte data limit. The cable company said in a press conference it will test two new options that eliminate penalties for heavy data consumption.
Comcast is the country’s largest cable provider and has 20 million U.S. customers. It said the move to allow consumers to go up to and beyond 300 gigabytes per month recognizes that new technology is pushing the upper limits of residential data use. In particular, many consumers now are streaming movies and TV shows over cable networks.
In addition Comcast recently began allowing customers to use Skype video conferencing on its network.
The tests will be done to determine the best way to “maintain and ensure the highest-quality service” for the entire Comcast service network, said Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen.
It’s not clear when the two new options will be tested in Washington state.
One test will involve a paid-tiered system with customers starting with 300 gigabytes of free data. A customer then could select a higher tier, providing roughly 50 more gigabytes of data for an additional $10 on the monthly bill.
The second test will look at creating “on demand” blocks of additional data; in that scenario, whenever a customer needs more, the option exists to pay for it, Cohen said.
Cohen also said “the vast majority” of Comcast’s data customers do not come near the 250-gigabyte limit. Comcast has on occasion shut down residential customers who exceed the limit since it was implemented in 2008.
Cohen said the decision is a “philosophical adjustment” to its highest-volume customers, and “we don’t want to discourage you from using Comcast and having an essentially unlimited data service.”