Comcast said Thursday it will test new Internet data caps, expanding its lowest tier to 300 gigabytes a month from 250 gigabytes of data. It will charge an additional $10 for every additional 50 gigabytes of data on top of the basic tier when purchased up-front.
Comcast said the changes are meant to respond to the ever-increasing hunger for Internet services — particularly watching videos over the Web. But executive vice president David Cohen said in a call with reporters that “the vast majority” of current Internet users don’t reach the current ceiling of 250 gigabytes.
“For any business with a scarce resource ... appropriate and fair pricing models should include differential pricing and differential usage on network,” Cohen said. “The headline should be that there is no longer a cap anymore.”
Cohen declined to comment on how many users hit the current limit of 250 gigabytes. He said the firm is considering how to charge users who go over their monthly allotment.
“We feel comfortable with current pricing,” Cohen said. Trials for its new data plans will begin in the next few months, the firm said.
The changes come amid criticism by rival Netflix, which says Comcast is giving special preference to its own video services, such as its XFinity service over the XBox 360, which isn’t counted against monthly data caps. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has questioned if that practice violates Internet access rules imposed on the approval of Comcast’s joint venture with NBC Universal.
Comcast argues that those video services are not over the public Internet, but ride over its private cable pipe.